by Greg Freeman
Woking Writers Circle gives proper prominence and support to our splendid New Victoria theatre by regularly reviewing their productions – and it’s right that we do. But spare a thought, too, please – and your support – for the local amateur dramatic scene as well.
The Woking area has a number of thriving am-dram groups. I belong to Send Amateur Dramatic Society – but we are not in the least sad, despite our acronym. I joined the group only two years ago, after nursing an ambition to tread the boards for most of my life. Unfortunately my work in the evenings made that impossible until I retired a few years ago.
So, rather late in the day – but better late than never – I turned up for an audition for Goodnight, Mr Tom in January 2017. To general surprise – not least my own – and encouraged by my wife Gillian (a far more experienced am-dram performer) I landed the part of Mr Tom, a grumpy old chap, alongside rising star Evan Huntley-Robertson, who played young William.
For those that don’t know the story, it’s a heart-warming tale of wartime community spirit, although it certainly has a dark side as well. It was a great joy to perform it at Woking’s Rhoda McGaw theatre in June of that year with a number of our junior members, who acted with cheery confidence and brio and played a big part in the show’s success.
Since then I have been cast as Friar Tuck in Send’s annual village panto, plus a cameo King Richard; a dying husband with dementia in a one-act play with Gillian that we took to Woking drama festival; and I now have a part in an upcoming one-act, comedy whodunnit that we will be performing at our usual home of Lancaster Hall in Send on 14-16 March at 7.30pm.
Our play is called Over My Dead Body! I play a rather insubordinate butler (that’s me, second from left, next to his lordship). But I’m not telling you whether I did it. There’s another comic one-act play on the bill as well, Bride Before a Fall. And if that isn’t enough, there’s a Joyce Grenfell monologue, Nursery School Flowers, which in my book should be worth the £8 admission price alone.
Maybe you too have nursed similar ambitions to become involved in local am-dram? They are a lovely, friendly crowd at Send – no divas or egos – with a thriving junior section as well. But we are always on the lookout for new members. You don’t have to perform if you don’t want to – there are plenty of backstage jobs as well, including set-building for the DIY-handy. One of the pleasures of am-dram for me is feeling part of a group working towards a common purpose – a group buttressed by a number of dedicated, long-standing, unsung heroes. That collectivism that we tried to convey in Mr Tom, perhaps? It’s relaxing, despite the line-learning – and it’s almost always fun.
So why not come along and see for yourself, on one of those 14-16 March dates? The box office is 07542 107815 or email Sendamateurdramatics@hotmail.co.uk – or you can just turn up on the night as well. Hope to see you there!