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BEHIND THE FOOTLIGHTS: AMBITIOl
MISS GWEN SHEPHERD, who is produc- ing "Sheppey" for the Player*' Ciub, with MR. FRASER, who is playing the name
As their first offering of the new year, the Players' Club will put on a revival of "Heat Wave in Vie West" in aid of the Lord Mayor's Patriotic Fund. This will
be on January '¿0.
(Above.) Preparing for the Christmas revue at the Chelsea Players. From left: MRS. PHYLLIS BOYCE, MISS GWEN MEREDITH, and MISS ALICE COCHRANE dressing ALAN MCINTYRE as the Sheik in a burlesque of the famous silent film. Miss Meredith is the author of "Murders Are Messy,"
the club's current production.
Twelve-year-old LESLEY ANN WEEDON as Alice in the Independent
Theatre's Christmas production of "Alice in Wonderland."
HUNDREDS OF DRAMA Q\
nPHERE is in most of us a spark of theatrical ambilifl * produce, or write for the theatre, and it is not um in Sydney there are well over a hundred amateur draiJl These range from flourishing societies with memberill hundreds to small groups run by churches, tennis fl munities where the drama club acts as a social clubJI
The oldest group, perhaps, is S.U.D.S. (Sydney Un« which has been running under various titles since lal Polynesian Club's Drama Club, which has still toll performance. II
/rOST of the societies i specialise in some paiticular blanch of theatiical fare, and for Miss May Hollin worth, pioducer for SUDS her gieatest delight is in pioducing Shakespeare in the Gi eat Hall of the Uni veisity
We are more or less bound not to commit oui telves to much expense
said Miss Hollinworth . hut «îhnkpsneare in the
Gi eat Hall naturally allows ris more scope This last \ear has been a difficult one for us, and we have concentrated mote or less on îepertory work to prepare oui selves for bettei ?work in the future Next year we aie hoping to stage The Pi ogs' of Aristophanes and the usual Shakespeaiean pioduction, -which will probably be Twelfth Night'
Three Young Playwrights
THIS year also we have produced one Aus-
tralian three-act play 'By Wiie' by Mai y Lucv and two one-act plays, Shallow Cups,' by Dvmphna Cusack and 'Rings of Smoke ' by Peggy Mclntvie They aie all membeis of SUDS"
Another society which encourages Austiallan wiiteis is the Bryant Pla-, house, which has put on many plays by Sydney men and women Early In the New Yeai they will produce three moie, 'People Lake Us," by Hailev Matthews, with "Mothers Day" by Leslie Clark Rees, as a cuitnin raiser, and "Stages," by H Dale and Robeit
"T)UT our main work is more 01 less expeii J3 mental" said Miss Bijant, sitting in the auditoilum of hei tiny ciypt theatie and watch- ing n reheaisal out of the comer of an eye "With this small theatie we do not have to meet the heavy chaiges that othei biggei theaties have, and we can affoid to experiment and to attempt ambitious pioductiona We have many successful per foi manees oí outstanding plays at the back of us, including 'Man and Superman' and The Seagull' which are the two most in- teresting pioductions we ha\e staged We even staged the Hell scene in Man and Supetman - a scene that takes thiee houis in itself We began the peí foi manee at Ave, and at the end of the scene served a cuny dinner for the andience In the cnurch-room next dooi Then we i etui ned to the theatie and continued the peifoi manee1
'But those two pioductions haven t damped our ambitions in the least, and next year we will produce "Peer Gynt ' This will not be in the pla>house, however, but in my own gai den at Vaucluse, where two lévela make a natural stage There are also two natutal settings-under a giant Moreton Bay fig-tree, wheie the troll scenes will be played and on flagged paving where the mort ii chaiacteis will play their scenes Tins will be oui Hist open-air pioduction"
If Miss Biyants Playhouse grew up in a rivpt of a church Miss Thea Rowes was transformed iiom a fish cafe 15 months ago into a delightful self-contained little theatie All the fittings aie entirely home-made including the diessing-iooms and the stage itself It has a real smell of the
theatie about it, too of gi ease-paint andtU lace, and that pleasant mustv smell that ti with stored pi ops which heie include eisrJl fiom wigs to a tiee li
Upstahs pupils were reheaising for a grcW one-act plavs-for at the Thea Roue TJn the members woik all the time It is esscJI
R tiaining ground for young nsplianU !i|| stage ||
Clever "Prop" Man 1
DOWNSTAIRS down a steip shira« IB
you know must lead to something inn
ing, is the stage itself, wheie Mi Clement K'J was making the scene foi the next p.r« BJ Mr Kennedy who won the muni ioir[¿BJ for the Univeisity ol Western Auatralu.BJ magician when it comes to making piop= tJ| bli ds and animals and some of tho e ¡iBj made foi diamatised fahy tiles aie mfcEJ genious and lealistic An apes head IoML.pl is cunningly fashioned of an old felt lu | some scraps of fur and one ot the gw Í "The Goose Gill" actually flapi iti vi ins. I
waddles its way acioss state
Though the Thea Rowe The it re hdlesi thing from musical comedj to plays '.uch is. Delight," the theatie has built up a «petalt tion foi its plays tor childi en j
"We woik op the style of the Cmldien'T in London," said Miss Rowe plckinD upe the geese and nursing it affcctiomtdv ' plays aie peifoimed by giown-ups-inn '
this many people think childi en are fopiu-» | and expect so much but we find tint £ El Still tremendously inteiested in kinki and pr- RP and queens 1*1
Dramatised Fairy Tales
WRITING tor childi en U, oí cf.
specialised job" Miss Rowe went». what grown-ups think funny will often no to childi en at all May Ga> and \\ou have both dramatised some of Glimm
for us and we put on the childrens f conjunction with the Rosenuuy Benjanu People's Theatre Al' types of child' to the theatie, and do tlicj lo\e it1 T the mast wonderful audience as the} u¡ a tiemendous inteiest in eveivthmg Î' out instiuotions too, and alway-, an^iver ri
The Dijonians' R"pertoiy Socieh t>" put on a childrens pliy The Fim, ft« now thej intend to specialise in Iiglu ft and domestic pim s This societ) too ti
ambitious and successful productions J|j| credit, including Senke' (C L Anther*
'S PRODUCTIONS IN AMATEUR WORLD
MISS THEA ROWE and ¡¡mall FAY CALLAGH A N
admirinp tico of Hie geese viade by Mr Clement Ken- nedy for the production of '¡he Princess Who Could Not
(Above.) VICTOR ARNOLD, pioducer (right) and EDMUND i ALLISON, icena daigner for "Angels of War," tíie New Theatre /
League's next production. !
(Lett.) MR. FREDERICK HUGHES rehearsing MISS GWEN e
LOGAN and MR. KEVIN COLLINS, who are playing the leads /
in the Dajonians' production of "The Wind and ¡Vie Rain." t
(Top) MISS ELMA PAUL PERDRIAU (right) with some of her Greenwood Irep players ioho are taking part in the dub's next production, Barries "Admitable Crichton" From left MR DOUGLAS IRVING MISSES PEGGY RAWSON, JUDY OSBISTON, MR PETER TATE, MISS PEGGY
(Above.) Three Sydney authors whose plays have been per~ formed by S.U.D.S. From left: MISSES DYMPHNA CUSACK,
MARY PENELOPE LUCY, and PEGGY MCINTYRE.
(Left.) MISS BERYL BRYANT inspecting her garden for the open-air performance of "Peer Gynt," with MISS DOROTHY HEMINGWAY, her associate producer, and MR.
NORMAN MAXWELL, who will play the title role.
fe IN SYDNEY
[the desire to act,
Iier surprising that
societies and clubs, inning into several f, and other com
y Drama Society), The newest is the te its first public
Moonlight" (Benn Levy), and "Symphony in Two PlRts" (Ivor Novelle).
For the past few weeks the Dajonians have been rehearsing another popular modern play, 'The Wind and the Rain," which Fred- erick Hughes will pro- duce on Tuesday, Wed nes, and Thursday this week. Mr. Hughes pro- duced the original corn puny which performed
this play in Sydney with George Thirwell in the
I Another group of players who specialise in a particular type of play are the Chelsea Players. They have come up against a problem which is so often a stumbling-block to the smaller societies-the lack of men members. And this la why the Chelsea Players have had to specialise in plays in which women characters predominate. These plays are hard to find, too, and Mrs. Phyllis Boyce, the producer, is hoping to be able to solve the problem next year by running a play com- petition for members, in which each play is limited to one male character. This will call for a lot of ingenuity, and the results should be interesting.
Other plays which Mrs. Boyce has in mind for production next year are "Nine Till Six," In which there are no men at all, and "Niobe," an amusing skit on the story of Pygmalion and
Ten years old is the Independent Theatre, which trew out of the old Sydney Repertory Society, ind which is managed by Miss Doris Fitton. lliis theatre has big things ahead, inclua- nt' a Christmas production of "Alice In Won leiland," with 12-year-old Lesley Ann Weedon ilBjing the lead, and "St. Joan," in which Miss 'itton herself will play the lead. ,
"This is the one part I have always longed o play," said Miss Fitton, "and it will be a wat interesting play to produce.
'Alice in Wonderland"
' \ UCE,' too, is going to be an Interesting
.» i- pioduction, with, I hope, revolving scenery. lie scenes themselves will be played through a IHM .screen to give the dream atmosphere to the lay. We will stage this for three weeks, and ofsibly longer, and my small son Malcolm, who i six, will make his first stage appearance in le harlequinade curtain-raiser. He will play le baby clown, and he's terribly excited about
'Three outstanding productions put on by the ¡dependent Theatre are 'The Constant Nymph,' "chard of Bordeaux,' and 'Peter Pan.' 'The Con ant Nymph' we played in 1931, with three re vals, and we always played to crowded houses. re alio put on a special performance in honour ' Dame Sybil Thorndike for her birthday, and irough this performance, Richard Parry, who was
aying Lewis Dodd, secured a London engage-
A gioup of young players deeply concerned ith the problems of to-day is the New Theatre .ague, for which Mr. Victor Arnold is the pro icer. Controversial plays dealing with modern oblenis are what interest them most, and in e coming year they intend to concentrate on ace plays. This, they feel, is a small way in
.which they ran help towards the restoration and preservation of peace.
Propaganda in the Theatre
"rpHERE is no reason why peace plays should
1 be considered lacking in drama," said Mr.
Arnold. " 'Bury the Dead' and 'Angels of War' are both powerful plays. Our idea of the theatre is that it should be used for propaganda as well as entertainment, and for that reason we must keep up to date with current problems. Our slogan is, 'The New Theatre League dramatises our times.' Even the man in the street is becom- ing acutely conscious of every-day problems, and our theatre helps to crystallise these problems by presenting them in dramatic form. And we find that audiences are keenly interested in plays dealing with social problems, and, in fact, will often overlook the fact that the play is perhaps poorly constructed from a theatrical point of view."
Tlie New Theatre League has produced two banned plays, "Till the Day I Die," which they ran privately for over two years at Wednesday performances, and "War on the Waterfront," which was performed in the Sydney Domain and at Wollongong.
"Bury the Dead," Irwin Shaw's powerful anti- war play, was produced five times at the Con- servatorium, and won good notices from the critics. Technically it is as difficult as any play performed in Sydney. "Angels of War" (Muriel Box) and "Take Back Your Freedom," a play dealing with the growth of Fascism in England, are two plays earmarked for production in the new year.
Commenting on Australian plays, Mr. Arnold said:
We are anxious to encouiage Australian plavs, but Austialian plavwiights should wiite about their own countiy and Australia's own pioblems That is the seciet of the success of American and English playwrights They deal with their own pio- blems and plavs dealing with Austialian events would help draw attention to the many problems facing
In the Suburbs
rpHL many little theatie gioups in the subuibs 1 aie íepiesented by the Gleenwood Tiee Theatie
at Mosman There fs a îomantic stoiy of en- thusiasm and haid woik behind the success of this theatie It began life In a gai age-and many good pei foi manees weie put on there befoie a small but critical audience and undei the shade of a greenwood tree Miss Elma Paul Peidnau, the founder and pioducei, was a member of the Alan Wilkie Shakespeaiean company and by play- ing small paris and doing any stage jobs theie weie to be done, "¡he leaint a love ol the theatie which has now become almost her whole life Now the Gleenwood Tiee Theatie has gi own and left the gaiage davs far behind (to Miss Peidtiau's regret, for she loved that little Little Theatie"), and now the public peilormances aie staged in St James's Hall 01 at the Conseivatoiium The studio now is in Mo«min, ovei looking the Heads, and enlivened with the nevei-ending song of a cageful of lovebuds
Miss Pcrdnau has a sjstem which veiv few other pioducers have couiage to tackle, and that is, even membei oí hu theatie is given a pait in a pioduction.
Chance for Beginners
"rpHIS is the only way to discover talent," said
1 Miss Perdriau. "So many newcomers are nervous and shy, but in the end it is often they who make the best actresses and actors. We concentrate on one-acters to a large extent, as they give the beginners more chance and more variety. Our first big show was 'My Lady's Dress,' a stupendous undertaking, as there were nine changes ol' scenery and over 30 in the cast. 'A Kiss for Cinderella' (the last big show I played in myself), 'Autumn Crocus,' and 'Call it a Day' were other big productions for which we got great credit from the critics and the general public. We do not go in for any one particular class of play, though I am very tond of Barrie, and hope to do several more of his plays.''
The Players' Club
rpHE Players' Club, founded in 1923, has.many I outstanding productions to its credit. These
include two Australian plays, "Men Without Wives," by Henrietta Drake-Brockman, the prize-winning play in the Australian Centenary competition, and "Heat Wave in the West," by Mac Luker, which was awarded distinguished mention in the same competition. The Players' Club .calls on several producers for its productions, the producer for "Men Without Wives" being Mi-. S. R. Irving,
one of the oldest amateur actors in Sydney, who . is affectionately known as "Pop" to the club
On December 9 and 16 the Players' Club is putting on "Sheppey," Somerset Maugham's de- lightful play, which Miss Gwen Sherwood, . the secretary, is producing.