The annual Southern
Counties Drama Festival once again had a very successful week at the
Barn Theatre, Oxted. The result was in the balance until the final evening
on Saturday, which yet again made this year's festival a nail biting
The first Betchworth
Festival had been held sixty years to the day making this Diamond Anniversary
a cause for celebration. We were delighted to have in the audience Jill
Perry who had performed in The Student Players production of The Red
Velvet Goat back in 1951.
Prior to the awards
being presented, the Chairman, Martin Patrick and special guest, newsreader
Nicholas Owen cut a celebration cake. Nicholas then reminisced about
the time he won the Best Actor Award in the Betchworth Festival with
Two Gentlemen of Soho performed by Reigate Amateur Theatrical Society
the results, the Adjudicator, Jill Colby, summed up the week and praised
the festival organisers for the superb and buoyant festival in a theatre
so different to when she last adjudicated at the Barn in 2001. She praised
all the teams for their contribution towards some memorable performances.
She also congratulated all of the youth entries for rising to the challenge
of entering a competitive festival and hoped that they took on board
her comments and found them constructive.
Thanks to the continued
support from the Gatwick Airport Community Trust, the festival was able
to present a cheque for £100 to the team St Paul's Drama Group who now
progress to the semi-finals of the All-England Theatre Festival.
Actress Award - Sara Watkins
Best Actor Award - Brian Aris
St Paul's Drama Group - The Long Road by Shelagh Stephenson
eighteen year old Danny is fatally stabbed in a random attack, his family
struggles to find meaning and forgiveness. His mother's determination
to understand the atrocity brings her face to face with his killer and
forces the family to confront the bitter senselessness of their loss.
Congratulating the Director, Sheila Carr, the Adjudicator said this
was a relentless and unflinching play which examined the mindless stabbing
of a young man and the family's efforts to come to terms with it. The
mother, played by Sara Watkins was awarded Best Actress and Brian
Aris as the elder son, received the award for Best Actor.
The play evolved
from a period of research with prisoners by Synergy Theatre Project,
in collaboration with The Forgiveness Project and award-winning playwright,
Shelagh Stephenson. It premiered at London's Soho Theatre in 2008 and
returned later that year, after a sell-out run. Described in the "Daily
Telegraph as "rare and remarkable.... this is a drama that cries out
for attention - and richly rewards it". The playwright has dedicated
the play to 'all those prisoners taking their first faltering steps
towards redemption and understanding, and all those victims who choose
to meet them on the road'.
St Paul's Drama
Group will now represent the Southern Counties Drama Festival at the
Semi-Finals of the All-England Theatre Festival of One-act Plays at
Norden Farm Centre for the Arts in Maidenhead on Sunday May 8th.
Gatwick Airport Community Trust Award for Best Youth Production
Best Young Actor - James Broad, Matthew Martin, Oliver Rowlatt and James
Heathfield Drama Group - Bouncers by John Godber
Judd, Ralph and Les are Night Club bouncers. They reflect on the drunken
youths who frequent this and the other night clubs of the City. In summing
up this well known play, the Adjudicator felt that this youth group
displayed exceptional ensemble acting and awarded the Best Young
Actor Award to the whole cast, namely James Broad, Matthew Martin,
Oliver Rowlatt and James Williams. The play also won the award for Best
Youth Production which was given by the Gatwick Airport Community
Trust the festival sponsor.
Best Young Actress
- Ebony Wong
Heathfield Drama Club - The Colour of Compassion by Ellen Dryden
Secole a Jamaican Creole wants to be a Doctress and practises her healing
powers in the Caribbean and South America (Panama) before travelling
to England to try to become one of Florence Nightingale's nurses in
the Crimea. She is spurned as she has been before because she is coloured.
Eventually she makes her own way to the Crimea where she meets a Dr
Barry who hides an even deeper secret. Ebony Wong was awarded the Best
Young Actress Award for her portrayal of Mary Secole.
Best Stage Presentation
The Oxted Players - Mantrap by Paul Reakes
by Paul Reakes, directed for The Oxted Players by Tricia Whyte tells
the story of Trevor Wyatt whose seemingly peaceful evening is shattered
by the sudden arrival of a hysterical young girl begging to be let in.
Her alarming account of attack and near murder by the lorry driver she
foolishly accepted a lift from is dramatic, but nothing compared to
the situation that develops within the next few hours. Petty larceny,
manslaughter, policemen and a devilishly elaborate form of blackmail
are all ingredients in this taut thriller. The Adjudicator complimented
the group on the richness of the set and the display of silver which
suggested the wealth the author required. She felt that this was a remarkable
achievement in view of the 10 minute time limit for scenery setting.
Award - Mary Pearson Heathfield Drama Club - Bouncers by John Godber
and The Colour of Compassion by Ellen Dryden
awarded this award for the two plays directed by Mary Pearson, both
of which had received individual awards.
Award - Ashley Gillard The NOMADS - Has Anyone Seen Freddie Drennan?
by Stuart Tompkins
can be given to anyone in the festival at the discretion of the Adjudicator.
The NOMADS, a youth group lost one of their main characters due to illness
and Ashley Gillard took the part at 2pm on the day of the performance.
He appeared on stage without a script and fully in command of his part.
Players production One Season's King by George MacEwan Green was
a most unusual and evocative play with a simple stage setting of almost
mystical symbolism and shifting images with a remarkable and unexpected
dance sequence in a country graveyard in the season of mellow fruitfulness.
TTAC presented Permission to Cry by David Campton in which Julia
Gibbon is an up and coming government Junior Minister whose life is
thrown into turmoil by the conflict between private and public morality.
She has to come to terms with personal grief when her turmoil is made
public and she has to admit to herself that she was in love and allow
her public façade to give way, revealing a very intense and private
grief. This is highlighted by a series of dreamlike flashbacks depicting
presented The Donahue Sisters by Geraldine Aron in which three sisters
find themselves back in the old attic where they played as children.
They have come home because their father is in hospital. What starts
out as pleasant reminiscing takes on a more sinister turn as they re-enact
a terrible shared secret of their childhood.
performed May we?... Oui, Mais an original play by Wilf Hashimi in which
Dolly and Walter share some moments in a space on the journey through.
At times, the bonds are taut, and at others, they trail. Sometimes it
is summer, and another cycle begins; at other times, in spite of the
resources available to them, both Dolly and Walter are hampered.
performed Has Anyone Seen Freddie Drennan? by Stuart Tompkins. This
was a play for anyone who has suffered from the stress of directing.
Dennis arrives full of high hopes to rehearse his amazing "Play in A
Day" about Sir Francis Drake. However, Dennis quickly loses his cool
and is overcome by panic and anguish as he is bombarded with incompetent
assistants, an arrogant backstage crew and flying cups of tea! Hilarity
ensues as Dennis struggles for control while learning the true meaning
behind assistant directors, the Spanish Armadillo and embarrassment.
By the way, has anybody seen Freddie Drennan?!
Dramatic Society presented Interior Designs by Jimmie Chinn in which
Him, a brash, arrogant odd-job man, is offering his 'services' to three
women: Holly, a successful TV newsreader; Irene, a solitary schoolteacher;
and Amy, a frustrated housewife. Although of very different backgrounds,
the three women share a common fate of loneliness and frustration. Interior
Designs follows their yearning to fill the emptiness of their lives
and their various attempts to trap the eligible Him.
The Young Oxted
Players performed The Press Gang by Ellen Dryden which was set in
the reprographics room of a large modern school in the 1990's.
Group, a youth group based in Caterham presented What's On Your
Mind by Ashley Montgomery in which five different characters bring their
problems to a counsellor, each believing they are alone, that their
problems are unique and they are truly and untreatably crazy.
Club's The Little Nut Tree by T B Moms was based on the well-known
nursery rhyme and set in early 16th Century Spain. Genadio has found
a rare tree that everyone wants. His mother wants to sell it as she
can see financial security. The nosey neighbours can't believe their
eyes when a merchant and then the Infanta (said to be a young Katherine
of Aragon) come to the humble cottage to obtain the tree. But Genadio
will not let it go for money, even to Royalty, only as a gift of his
love and respect for the Infanta. However, he is spurned by the Infant
who says she cannot accept a gift from a peasant.
Theatre Company presented The Miracle by Lin Coghlan. When the canal
bursts its banks and a holy statue crashes through her bedroom floor,
12 year old Veronica takes it that she's somehow been invested with
a special gift to minister to the ailments and anxieties of her local
community. With best friend Zelda in tow, Ron sets about using her new-found
skills. Thwarted by cynicism and jealousy, she doesn't find it easy
- but soon the entire population of the town finds itself yearning for
something magical to come into their lives. Ultimately, in the play's
dramatic conclusion, only Ron is able to make the difference which changes
things for the better.
The Saturday evening
concluded with everyone enjoying a glass of bubbly and a cup-cake in
a 'Buns 'n' Bubbles' celebration of 60 years of local drama festival.