AFTER COVID, JABS FOR VICTORY - LIBERATION
“Something familiar, Something peculiar,
Something for everyone, A comedy tonight!
Something appealing, Something appalling,
Something for everyone....... A play by Dedham Players!”
Or so the intro to ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ by Stephen Sondheim, chimes, and this was the refrain around the virtual dining room table where the Dedham Players committee meet to discuss the plays it would like to open with when lockdown permits. Should it be a comedy? Should it be a tragedy? Or something else? The questions have been uppermost in the committee’s minds for many months. The problem is, when can a performance be held? There is no doubt we want to avoid the risk of infection and with that in mind we are still pondering the future production.
When lockdown 1.0 descended Dedham Players were in the throes of preparing a comedy sketch review to kick off celebrations for its 50th anniversary. Rehearsals had started, set had been designed and the wardrobe store had been ransacked to identify costumes for the cast. All that was placed on hold. There were high hopes that a production would be possible in late 2020 or early 2021 but even that has not possible, as we all now know.
Even though the future of live theatre performances are uncertain, rest assured that Dedham Players are prepared for action once restrictions are lifted, no matter when that is. In the meantime we continue to discuss plans, read scripts, outline set designs and consider seating plans and ticketing which will undoubtedly be a challenge, making sure that our audiences are safe and comfortable to attend.
Inevitably, the committee reminisce about previous productions. The actors, the sets, box office and deadlines to get the stage and set built within days of curtain up! Those days spent painting the set with DP members, splashing paint over each other rather than the ‘flats’ and scenery. Sawing wood to various lengths and struggling to remember how we built the stage and put the lighting in place….those were the days!
But, those days will come again and DP will be ready. We invite you to come and help us put on a
show which will not only, belatedly celebrate Dedham Player’s 50th anniversary, but liberation from the
pandemic and lockdown!
We look forward to seeing you all again soon
In The Meantime......... AND THE WINNERS ARE .....
The NETG Award Ceremony duly took place on 11th September 2020, virtually . All eyes of The Dedham Players were on its nominated and hugely successful production of Pressure by David Haig and performed at the Assembly Rooms in October 2019. The ceremony was a pretty sombre affair without the participation of a ‘live’ audience with just two members of the judging panel reading out a list of names of nominees for each category and then opening an envelope to further announce the winner.
NETG told the virtual audience that the standard of productions and performances for the year was very high. The Dedham Players had received eight nominations and were declared the winners in two categories, Best Actress and an award for the sourcing and production of the Maps and Props used in the production. It was perhaps only fitting that these two awards came to Dedham Players. The Maps formed the central focus of the play. They had to be large enough for the audience to see and the actors to work with. There were five maps which had to be changed at various times during the performance as the timeline of the play progressed. There were many challenges. The maps were exact replicas of the originals. Pdf images were available, at cost, from the Performing Rights Agents; the images had to be reproduced for the stage. Much thought was put into how this could be achieved to the greatest effect.
Thoughts of back projecting the image onto the set had to be abandoned as there was insufficient room backstage to do so. Likewise projecting from the balcony - the chandelier would get in the way. After considering having the maps individually printed the production team had to take a cold shower to get over the cost of such printing! Eventually, and with the help of Hedingham School and Sixth Form Reprographics Department the images were printed by photocopy in five horizontal strips for each of the five maps which then had to be stuck together with clear tape but in such a way that the stage lighting did not reflect off it and distort the audience view.
David Thompson who designed the set and Julie Hastings-Smith the stage manager and DP Hon. Secretary, Rachel Culley, set about the task of splicing the strips together - a humungous job which saw them scrambling around the floor of The Assembly Rooms and which took over three nights to achieve. The finished effect was perfect - who would have known the maps were photocopied strips?
The Best Actress Award was bestowed on Danielle Tile. Danielle has appeared in several Dedham Player productions including Cactus Flower and God of Carnage. These were later followed by her appearance in the title role in Jane Austin’s “Emma” directed by Claire Nicholson. Although Danielle was nominated for her performance as Emma, she did not win but the play gained the award for best production for that year. And then her winning role as Lt. Kay Summersby in Pressure. In fact Danielle had originally declined to audition for the role having appeared in Emma only a few months earlier. Emma was a massive role and the role of Kay Summersby equally challenging, However, the director persisted in persuading her to take part and eventually secured her agreement in a telephone call with Danielle whilst she was in a cupboard working at a Scottish conference centre! There is no doubt the award is well deserved.
But what of Best Actor for which Mike Cook as Dr. Stagg? Although Mike was nominated he did not get the nod BUT HE DID win the nomination for Best Actor in a musical for his role in ‘A Little Night Music” for Headgate Productions. Mike Cook also appeared in “Emma” playing opposite Danielle - these two actors have great stage chemistry and we hope that we see them on stage at The Assembly Rooms in a Dedham Players production again soon.
Congratulations to the Maps and to Danielle and Mike and to all who made Pressure such a wonderful production
in Cactus Flower
The Weather Maps
as Kay Summersby
as Dr Stagg