THE HOSPITAL PLAYERS 

Scunthorpe's Oldest Amateur Dramatics Group - Established 1943

176th Production


Jane Eyre


By Charlotte Bronte

Adapted for the stage by Willis Hall


27th - 31st January 2004

Cast

Narrators

 

 

 

Mrs. Reed

Jane Eyre as a child

Bessie

Miss Abbot

Robert

Brocklehurst

Miss Temple

Helen Burns

Orphans

 

 

 

Barbara/Nurse

Mr. Naysmith

Jane Eyre

Rochester

Bertha

Adele

Mrs. Fairfax

Leah

Grace

Kitty

John

Porter

Lady Ingram

Lord Ingram, her son

Blanche Ingram, her daughter

Mary Ingram, her daughter

Ballroom Guests

 

 

 

 

 

Reverend Woods

Briggs

Mason

St. John Rivers

Diana Rivers

Mary Rivers

Hannah

Annie

Alice

Shopkeeper

Country Girl

Country Woman

Workman

Rachel Foster

Katie Weatherhogg

Kerry Olsen

Leigh Ann Smith

Judie Bateson

Charlotte McGuane

Maria Jarvis

Melanie Mason

Stephen Bunn

Chris Freer

Charlotte Henderson

Francesca Melillo

Helen Patrick

Natalie Burtt

Zoe Burknishaw

Amy Long

Lynn Burkinshaw

Andy Pontin

Rachel Ireland

Graham Wells

Melanie Mason

Celine Pohl

Jill Burns

Lyndsey Keeble

Lynn Burkinshaw

Maria Jarvis

Larry Hollando

Chris Johnson

Judie Bateson

Andy Pontin

Debbi Johnson

Charlotte Henderson

Melanie Mason

Lyndsey Keeble

Rachel Foster

Katie Weatherhogg

Kerry Olsen

Leigh Ann Smith

David Elford

Chris Freer

Les Tong

Andy Pontin

Debbi Johnson

Lyndsey Keeble

Judie Bateson

Natalie Burtt

Helen Patrick

Melanie Mason

Maria Jarvis

Charlotte Henderson

Brian Lewis

Production Team

Director

Co-Director

Stage Manager

Assistant Stage Manager

Lighting

 

Properties

Set Design

Set Construction

 

Publicity

Front of House Manager

Costumes

Sound

Les Tong

Angie Johnson

Caroline Norden

Margaret Tong

Ann Brown

Bill Bateson

Helma Wray

Les Tong

Brian Lewis

Ray Dobbs

Margaret Tong

Angie Johnson

Jan Gregory

Chris Johnson

Programme Notes

My recollections as a member of The Hospital Players

 

When I first joined The Hospital Players, over fifty years ago, fresh from the bright lights of London, things were very different both in Scunthorpe and in the amateur dramatic scene. There was a group of people who had volunteered to fire watch at the hospital and after several weeks began to get rather bored. They decided to read some plays to pass the time, hence the formation of The Hospital Players. Originally only a dozen or so people were involved but soon the number grew as entertainment was limited and television was only in its infancy.

 

They began rehearsals in the hospital basement and in fact still rehearsed there when I joined [in 1947]. The casting of the play, however, together with Committee meetings was held very formally in the Boardroom. The object of the group was initially to raise money for the League of Friends whose treasurer was Mr. Fred Crisp who was also one of our founder members.

 

As the National Health Service gradually took things over, they needed more space and we soon realised we would have to find some premises of our own. We managed to acquire a Nissen hut in East Common Lane by taking out a loan so our work for the League of Friends had to take a back seat for a while. However we had managed to raise £500 as a donation for a cot to the children’s ward before we left.

 

Productions were put on in the Savoy Theatre, formerly the Palace, or the old Technical College on Cole Street. Dressing rooms here were the school cloakrooms, ladies in one and gents in the next, with all wire netting and cubicles underneath for shoes and bags. I remember very well Neville Brown showing off in his newly acquired Y-fronts which were new on the market! We had very little privacy but a good camaraderie existed between us all.

 

Among the first plays I recall was one entitled ‘Gathering Storm’ which we performed in 1949, in which Phyllis Dadd and Neville Brown both starred. Neville played a deaf mute and Phyllis was his Gran who was murdered – a gripping ‘whodunnit’.

 

At this time we easily managed to perform to full houses, however things really started to improve when the Drama Federation was formed under the guidance of Bill Plowright, editor of the Scunthorpe Star and father of Joan Plowright. Scunthorpe Council were having some problems filling senior posts and the associate members felt having a theatre would give the town more to offer in the way of culture, and so it was decided we would have a Drama Federation who would work towards building a theatre. The Federation consisted on myself from The Hospital Players, Peggy Bowe, a member from the Co-Operative Society, a member from Little Theatre Club, Alderman Pittwood and several other interested people. A fund was started and local businesses and the steelworks made contributions to the building, plus numerous donations from other interested people. In May 1958 the theatre opened with a production of ‘Peer Gynt’ and with Mr. H. Ramsden, head-teacher at Henderson Avenue School, selected to be its first manager.

 

Over fifty years later, with a record of 120 full-length plays, numerous One Acts, a number of Town Productions, several Summer Schools and an “Arts of the Theatre” diploma from Sheffield University, I continue to learn and love every aspect of the theatre and, last but not least, am proud to be the President of The Hospital Players.

 

Joan Brown

President of The Hospital Players


Faulty Recollection of a Coarse Thespian

 

1963. A Town production of ‘Troilus and Cressida.’ Cue Achilles: “Come here about me, you my Myrmidons…” and the noble Hector was about to meet his end, culminating in an impressive death fall that the professional director had decreed. Now Hector had a good sense of self-preservation and viewed with some alarm the young lads who has been enlisted to play the Myrmidons and, more importantly from his point of view, catch and cushion his final fall… and like the good coarse actor he was, went and recruited the two second row forwards from his rugby fifteen to swell the Myrmidons’ ranks, reasoning – correctly as it turned out – that this would give him a good chance of surviving the week intact. And that might well have been the end of it – a two-minute role as a non-speaking Greek thug – had not The Hospital Players suddenly found themselves short of a Badger in ‘Toad of Toad Hall.’ At that time ‘availability’ was more important than experience or talent: I was hooked, for the next forty years.

 

I think ‘Toad’ was the first children’s show staged by the Players. It proved to be a valuable excursion into new territory, for at about that time there was a radical change in contemporary drama. In had come ‘kitchen sink’ and middle class shows and out had gone plays centred on the aristocracy – and with them all those small roles for maids, footmen and servants that had been so useful in providing aspiring actors with a ‘start’ on stage. The series of children’s shows staged by the Players since the mid-1960s were not only rewarding and great fun to be involved with, but also the large and often flexibly-sized casts offered newcomers an early chance to ‘tread the boards.’

 

Having been involved with about 130 productions with the Players, and enjoyed nearly all of them, it feels almost invidious to name individual plays, but there is one group of shows that probably deserve a special mention. During the 1970s and early 1980s, the Country Arts Association gave one-year contracts to a succession of ‘travelling directors’ to promote ‘Theatre’ in the country. They were young, keen and inventive and we were fortunate enough to secure the services of several: productions of ‘Hotel Paradiso,’ ‘Saturday, Sunday, Monday’ and ‘The Canterbury Tales’ were among the results. Guest directors – some professional, some from other local groups (the names of David Ryan and George Hankinson spring to mind) – have been welcomed from time to time and I believe the Players have particularly enjoyed working with other groups on joint productions: ‘Tiddy Mun’ and ‘Lark Rise’ (both directed by Alec Mortimer) remain firmly in the memory, and more recently Robert Cheesmond directed ‘Tom Jones’ and Rupert Creed gave us ‘The Crucible.’

 

When I first joined the Players the then-thriving local steelworks’ annual recruitment drive provided a regular supply of young men and the Players had almost the luxury of being able to stage plays like ‘Journey’s End’ with an all-male cast or the musical ‘Irma La Douce’ with only one (albeit very important) woman. Times change and at the end of the 1960s the Players were at a low ebb: only about seven active members, less than four weeks to go before the next production date and no play chosen. Alan Ayckbourn to the rescue! A successful production of ‘Relatively Speaking’ began to restore the club’s fortunes. We have had cause to be grateful to the same author on many occasions since, and not least when ‘Season’s Greetings’ was directed by Reg Mitchell for our 50th anniversary production.


Suitable ‘headquarters’ are very important for the coherence of a club. In 1963, thanks to the local council, the Players were able to move into the old Free Library building on High Street East and – with our old friends and co-tenants, the Little Theatre Club – enjoyed many happy years in a building of character where there was room to rehearse and build and store scenery. When the fabric of this building finally deteriorated to the point where so much rain was getting in that we needed to improvise internal guttering, a move was made to the new Activity Centre on John Street. Here again, this time in company with Group 62, we found space to build, store and rehearse under one roof: we left reluctantly when the building space was required for redevelopment of the lower end of Scunthorpe. After a period of some uncertainty, our latest move has been to the Hobbies Centre, where we have been made welcome and found a happy new home. Vandalism and a fire that destroyed all our scenery rather marred the start of our 60th anniversary season, but we thank all our fellow groups for their prompt and generous offers of help.

 

Age eventually takes its toll and saps energy levels, so these days my involvement is much less than I would like, but I have happy memories of the fun, comradeship and lasting friendships formed over the last forty years. Good luck to the Players on their Diamond Jubilee: I hope they prosper and go on to make the century.

 

David G. Elford