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
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.
Best Actress Award - Karen Dix
Tonbridge Theatre and Arts Club –
Semblance of Madness!
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.
Best Youth Production
Youth Actor – Ben Atterbury
The Young Oxted Players – School Belles
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
Actor - Frank Atterbury
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.
Award - Emily Sweetman
Heathfield Drama Club - A Midsummer Night's Dream
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.
Youth Actress - Victoria Gaffney
– Heathfield Drama Club
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.
Paul’s Drama Group – The Children’s Hour
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.
groups taking part
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.
Stag Theatre Company presented ‘Playing with Shadows’, a tense confrontation
when an unexpected visitor turns up.
Players’ ‘World without Memory’ was a sympathetic, moving drama which explored
the relationship between a daughter and her ageing father.
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.
Fools Theatre Company: ‘The Dumb Waiter’. A classic Pinter play from a very
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.
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.
Drama Club’s ‘Riders to the Sea’ was a poignant piece portraying the perils
of going to sea.
Youth Theatre Company – ‘A Year and a Day’. This talented young company are
based in Dorking.