On the 27th and 28th of March the Pupil Teachers and Staff presented a programme of four one-act plays before a crowded and appreciative audience. The one-act play is not a really satisfactory medium for a whole evening's entertainment. Its flight is too short, and the audience is asked to sympathise with four entirely different sets of people, in four different sets of circumstances, generally trivial, within the space of a couple of hours. However, various reasons, notably shortness of time for rehearsal and the necessity of devoting available funds to stage equipment rather than royalties or costumes, compelled our choice. The casts were so keen, and our new lighting equipment and curtains looked so effective that next year we shall certainly attempt a full-length play of more dramatic possibilities.
To the Pupil Teachers fell the onerous duty of "warming up" the audience. Their first play "Between the Soup and the Savoury," was a somewhat trivial piece, but quite convincingly acted, and notable for a sensitive interpretation of the part of Emily, the pathetically romantic little kitchenmaid. The second, "The Master of the House," is a play in which the author hovers uncertainly between comedy and the macabre, thus setting the actors an insoluble problem. Thus the powerful acting of Hanwell is a part offering many melodramatic opportunities, clashed inevitably with the more ordinary, kitchen-comedy atmosphere of the rest of the play.
Although the Staff had chosen two plays even more hackneyed by innumerable productions than the P.T.'s choice, one feels that they provided the main amusement of the evening for the younger element of our audience. Unfortunately a staff play is always at some initial disadvantage from a purely dramatic point of view. The joy of recognising the all-too-familiar in a new and astonishing guise - Mr. R . . . . . As that "strangely handsome" young man, and Mr. C . . . . . Sheltering from his nagging wife behind a huge Teutonic moustache - inevitably destroys any pretence at dramatic illusion. However, if the plays offered be comedies, like "Five Birds in a Cage," and "The Dear Departed," this merely adds to the gaiety of the evening.
To mention every member of a surprisingly good cast of over twenty is impossible here. The "high spots" of the evening, however, were undoubtedly the pathetic character study of Emily, by Elsie Horton in "Between the Soup and the Savoury"; the simple yet striking setting of "Five Birds in a Cage," solely by curtain, posters, and suggestive lighting; the inimitable Liftman of Mr. Davies, and the versatility of Mr. Redden, first as a handsome and susceptible young bricklayer, then as a doddering and incredibly malicious old drunkard. The thanks of both Pupil Teachers and Staff are also due to Smith, our indefatigable electrician, and to Mr. Thompson, tireless prompter and effects man.
Four One-Act Plays were given by the Staff and Students in the evenings of March 26th, 27th and 28th. The programme follows, but many whose names are not on it were concerned with the success of the plays. Very much thought and care went to the choosing of the beautiful stage curtains, the lighting effects, making of the stage fireplace and scene-shifting. Miss Wastnidge and Mr. Dyson did valuable work as prompters, Mr. Peter Dyson "made-up" indefatigably and Mr. Thompson behind the scenes was "one man (who) in his time play(ed) many parts His acts being" (chains clanging, Underground train approaching, etc., etc.).
FOUR ONE-ACT PLAYS
1. Between the Soup and the Savoury by Gertrude Jennings
Cast (Pupil Teachers)
Maria (the cook) Marion
Ada (the parlourmaid) Emma Roscoe
Emily (the kitchenmaid) Elsie Horton
Scene A kitchen
2. The Master of the House by Stanley Houghton
Cast (Pupil Teachers)
Mr. Ovens ?
Fred Ovens (his son) Hanwell
Mrs. Ovens (his ssecond wife) Dorothy Littlewood
Edie (Mrs. Ovens's sister) Barbara Tyson
Dr. Jellicoe Harker
Mr Scrimshire (a solicitor) Mumby
Scene The parlour in the house of Mr. Ovens
INTERVAL (10 minutes)
SEE IPHIGENIA by Form 2
3. Five Birds in a Cage by Gertrude Jennings
Susan (the Duchess of
Wiltshire) Miss Hewitt
Leonard (Lord Porth) Mr Goodfellow
Nelly (a milliner's assistant) Miss Jackson
Bert (a workman) Mr. Redden
Horace (a liftman) Mr. Davies
Scene A tube lift.
4. The Dear Departed by Stanley Houghton
Mrs Slater} Miss
Mrs Jordan} Sisters Mr. Hall
Henry Slater} Mr Northeast
Ben Jordon) Mr Cawton
Victoria Slater (a girl of ten) Miss Cole
Abel Merryweather Mr Redden
Scene Sitting Room of a small house.
Before the stage was dismantled,
Form II gave their Latin Play, "Iphigenia,"
the story of which had been adapted for stage purposes by Mr.
Dudley. It was greatly appreciated. Owing to the illness of one
of the players, Form III had to postpone their play, "Servitus Brevis."
Eventually it was given in the Art Room, to a most enthusiastic audience,
whose only criticism was that the play was not long enough.