The Barn Theatre,
25 Bluehouse Lane, Oxted, Surrey
RH8 0AA.

Tel: 01959 561811
Email: barntheatre


Southern Counties Drama Festival 2009


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The Southern Counties Drama Festival enjoyed another successful week at the Barn Theatre, Oxted. The standard from the adult entries was particularly high this year; it was not easy to forecast any of the winners until the final play had been performed on the Saturday evening. The festival has received financial support from the Gatwick Airport Community Trust, which has allowed the organisers to give a cheque for £200 to the two teams progressing to the next round of the All-England Theatre Festival.

The adjudicator, Jill O’ Hare, making her first visit to the Barn, praised all the teams for their contribution towards some memorable performances. She also congratulated all the of youth entries for rising to the challenge of entering a competitive festival. She was sure that they had gained both experience and confidence from performing in front of an audience and that they would be taking away a sense of achievement that would prepare them should they wish to pursue a career in the performing arts.

Festival Winner
Best Actress Award - Karen Dix
Tonbridge Theatre and Arts Club – Semblance of Madness!

This was a powerful piece, exploring drama as a therapeutic treatment for three women imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital. Some excellent lighting, simple settings and strong direction by Sandra Barfield produced a riveting piece of theatre. The actresses, Yvette Walters, Karen Dix and Elizabeth McCreadie, managed to achieve a moving and gripping piece of human drama, in claustrophobic surroundings. Best Actress went to Karen Dix, possibly the most disturbed of the three Characters. She gave a riveting performance as Dawn, who only really wanted to dance, her intensity and body language spoke volumes. Tonbridge Theatre and Arts Club will now represent the Southern Counties Drama Festival at the Quarter Finals of the All-England Theatre Festival of One-act plays at The Playhouse, Walton-on-Thames on Sunday March 8th.

Festival Runner Up
Best Youth Production
Best Youth Actor – Ben Atterbury
The Young Oxted Players – School Belles

The Young Oxted Players, playing at their home venue, had another excellent festival, repeating the success they had last year. They picked up three awards, Best Youth Presentation, Best Youth Actor and Festival Runner Up; as such they will also represent the Southern Counties Drama Festival in the Quarter Finals on Sunday. This was one of the few more lighted hearted pieces of the week. What happens when girls are introduced into a boy’s grammar school as part of the comprehensive system? Well boys will be boys and girls are, well, girls. Particularly these new girls, Lottie Davis, Flo O’Mahoney, and Marissa Beatty. They set about trying to convince the boys, Alex Gordon, Henry Tredinnick and Hugh Murdoch, that women have played an important part in history, singling out Emmeline Pankhurst and Margaret Thatcher as role models in a series of playlets. The Headmaster, played by Ben Atterbury, tries to keep some sort of order, but gets increasingly exasperated having to deal with the mayhem. Giving Ben Atterbury the Best Youth Actor Award the adjudicator said he gave a very mature and well timed performance that contrasted well with the other performers. It was not easy for a youngster to play someone much older and she congratulated Ben on achieving this with a well paced and comic performance.

Best Actor - Frank Atterbury
The Oxted Players - Late Entry

A play that lampoons an entry to a one-act festival can be dangerous when performed at a one act festival, particularly when one of the only two characters is the adjudicator, but the Oxted Players threw caution to the wind and presented a highly amusing piece. The ‘actress’, played by Ann Lovell, not only starred in the play but wrote it and single handily staged it for the ‘festival’ the only help ‘on the night’ was from her near sighted six year old daughter in the ‘lighting box’. A wonderful scatty performance, with a range of accents. The ‘Adjudicator’ Frank Atterbury, who won the Best Actor Award, began his ‘adjudication’ by trying to find something positive to say about the piece, resorted to congratulating the table for being a table. But it was not to last and he let his guard down and said what he really meant, leading to some highly amusing sequences between the two of them. When she came on stage to adjudicate the piece Jill O’Hare invited Frank onto the stage to take over! Thankfully he knew his place and allowed Jill to congratulate both performers and their director Peter J. Reed on two wonderfully tight performances and nice touches that resulted in a funny play.

Adjudicators Award - Emily Sweetman
Heathfield Drama Club - A Midsummer Night's Dream

This Award can be given to anyone in the festival at the discretion of the Adjudicator. All week Jill had been most encouraging to the youth entries. As an experienced director and teacher of youth drama she knows the work that goes into bringing out the best in youth performers. She said she was totally entranced by the performance of Emily as Puck in the last play of the Festival, A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed by Heathfield Drama Club. Emily’s performance was spellbinding with wonderful stage presence. She totally commanded the stage when she was on, sang well and you could hear every word. “I wanted to take you home” said Jill as she handed out the award.

Best Youth Actress - Victoria Gaffney
Obsessed – Heathfield Drama Club
In a large cast Jill singled out a number of strong performances, including Victoria’s playing of the hard bully in a remand home. Jill said it is not easy for a young person to portray someone with deeper emotions, but she thought that Victoria gave a very strong and convincing performance as the school bully.

Best Stage Presentation
St Paul’s Drama Group – The Children’s Hour
In a good team performance the Adjudicator thought this was a detailed production with costumes, hair and staging all beautifully executed. This was the last act of a three act play. The writing was so good that all the strands of the first two acts came together in the final act allowing it to stand up on its own.

Other groups taking part
The week opened with Merstham Amateur Dramatic Society, who presented one of the few more light hearted pieces of the week ‘Two Wits to Woo’ by John Kelly.

The Stag Theatre Company presented ‘Playing with Shadows’, a tense confrontation when an unexpected visitor turns up.

Woldingham Players’ ‘World without Memory’ was a sympathetic, moving drama which explored the relationship between a daughter and her ageing father.

Sevenoaks Players ‘Effie’s Burning’ was another drama exploring relationships. This play dealt with the relationship between a young doctor and a 60 year old morally defective female patient in her care.

Lighted Fools Theatre Company: ‘The Dumb Waiter’. A classic Pinter play from a very experienced Company.

Tunbridge Wells Drama Club ‘White Queen Red Queen’ in which Ann Boleyn wants the crown of England and is prepared to do anything to get it.

Glow Theatre Group presented ‘The Pirates of Penrith’. This newly formed youth group based in Caterham were performing for the very first time in the festival.

Heathfield Drama Club’s ‘Riders to the Sea’ was a poignant piece portraying the perils of going to sea.

Applause Youth Theatre Company – ‘A Year and a Day’. This talented young company are based in Dorking.