As Jeremy and I studied drama at school, we were in several productions, both in school and local theatres. In school, I remember doing 'John Ford's Cuban Missile Crisis', 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead' but my earliest piece was with David Houe where we did the Eric the Half Bee sketch from Monty Python. Our teacher didn't know who Monty Python were and didn't recognise the sketch, so we got away with it. Incidentally, one of our teachers was Mrs Walker, who's daughter Carole now works as a journalist for the BBC.
Kes - The Redgrave Theatre, Farnham
Local drama students were often picked to play kids in local theatre productions, and when the Redgrave Theatre put a production of Kes, Jeremy and I were among the pupils who took part. There were strict rules and we also needed a licence to appear on stage. There were two groups from schools as there was a limit to the number of hours we could perform. Apart from the fact that the kestrel in the play was represented by still pictures on a screen at the back of the stage, we also had to learn to sing a school hymn badly. The intermission for the play was represented as a lunchtime break, so we all played on the stage (which didn't have a curtain). It gave a good insight to the whole theatre production and we also got on well with the rest of the cast.
A review from the local paper:
AT THE REDGRAVE with John Aistrop
That old adage for actors about not working with children because they will steal the show has been turned upside down by the production of "Kes" which can be seen up to May 19.
Not only do children from five schools work in disciplined concert with the cast in this ambitious version of a distinguished film, but in a performance to hammer the final nail in to the coffin of the old taboo, an adult actor of 22, Dominic Letts, steals the show - playing a schoolboy.
The play, by Barry Hines and Allan Stronach, doesn't emerge a a rival to the film; it complements it.
Richard Cordery, as the schoolmaster who learns from the boy how to rediscover a sense of wonder and gratitude for wild-life and nature, demonstrates a sincere understanding of this elegiac piece.
And the pupils of All Hallows, Heath End, Pierrepoint, South Farnham Middle and Weydon schools deserve an Oscar.
I urge you to see this fine production.
There was also a piece in the school newsletter:
A number of 1st - 4th year pupils are involved the Redgrave Theatre's production of "Kes". They will be the supporting cast school scenes along with pupils from other local schools. The experience of working with a professional company is demanding and rewarding and we urge you to support them. The production opened on 1st May and will run for three weeks. Tickets are available the Redgrave Box Office.
The Private Ear - West End Centre, Aldershot
Our last acting roles in the fourth year were part of a production of Peter Shaffer's The Private Ear. It had Jeremy as Ted, me as Bob and Helen Boyle as Doreen. The play was performed for two nights at the West End Centre (again on a stage with no curtains) along with the upper sixth production of After Magritte, which had Jeremy's brother Philip in the cast. We never performed the whole play as we both forgot different parts of the script on each night, but not significant amounts, so no one noticed. We were featured in the school newsletter:
NEWS FROM THE DEPARTMENTS - DRAMA DEPARTMENT
On Thursday 19th and Friday 20th March 4th years and 6th formers entertained members of the school, parents, Governors and the general public with two modern plays. The first, the 'Private Ear' is one most shy boys would appreciate. Laurence Fenn brilliantly portrayed the young man dating his first girlfriend, played by Helen Boyle. It is the story of the eternal triangle with the 'good with girls' friend played by Jeremy Rowe, too eagerly helping.
The other play was also being offered for a C.S.E. module and the Casts Modulator was in the audience. The cast of Philip Rowe, Meg Frost, Pauline Razen, Andrew King and Paul Attridge were possibly the most accomplished actors All Hallows has ever produced. They worked hard at making the very technical play "After Magritte" one of the most proficient productions in the School's theatrical history.
The 1981 edition of the school magazine had two articles about the play, one short one written by me and one written by the drama department I think.