The Man Who Thought He Was ill
Date Of Performance 22nd to 24th November 1991
OCR of Text From Program Page 3 (About Moliere)
OCR Text From Program Page (About The Drama Club)
The first stirring of amateur dramatics in Riding Hill was back in the 1930s When the W.I. used to put on plays at what were known as Social Evenings.
The producer and prime mover was Hrs Roger Clayton and she used to take her group to compete in one-act drama competitions in Newcastle.
In the late 40's a few members of this group decided to form a separate group outside the W.I. and the Riding Mill Drama Club was born under the chairmanship of George Masson, with his wife Elsee Masson as secretary.
The very first production in 1950 was "Ladies in Retirement" which was chosen partly because there was only one male character and it was proving very difficult to persuade the men of the village to tread the boards.
In those days, and for many years afterwards, all productions were done on the stage as it is today - no-one would have dared suggest building an extension to the stage.
Even removing the banisters from the steps at the back of the stage was definitely not allowed and must have made the building of sets quite a problem.
Nevertheless, from photographs it seems that some excellent sets were achieved, a tradition we try to maintain.
In those first years a row of footlights was always installed, as in the professional theatre, and this meant that a lot more Stage make-up was needed than is used today.
Even the men had to submit to a heavy layer of greasepaint and powder, a messy and uncomfortable and, so far as the men were concerned, unpopular procedure.
Thankfully today with better lighting very little make-up is necessary.
The village was very much smaller then than it is today, but even so one must admire the devotion of the secretary, Elsee Masson, who used to go round to every house in the village, with the seating plan in hand, taking bookings for the productions
At the end of the 50's came the idea of building an extension, thus doubling the size of the stage.
For many years Mr Gillespie, a builder, would put this up for us with formidable scaffolding to support it.
When eventually the old boards began to squeak so much they were in danger of drowning the dialogue, the thing was re-designed and built by the members so that it could be erected with only under stage support and stored between productions under the stage.
Over the years there has been so much fun, so much friendship, so much hard work, so much laughter.
One remembers the panics - like the time the stage manager, who had popped over to the Wellington for a quick one, mistimed the interval and no-one drew the curtain at the end of the act, leaving an embarrassed cast to shuffle off as best they could; the time a member of the cast found herself wearing the wrong dress and had to do a quick change at the start of an act, leaving one poor actor alone on stage eating grapes until he was reduced to eating even the pips: or when the electrician over- loaded the system and blew a main fuse just as the dress rehearsal was about to start - late and there was a two hour wait until it could be mended.
And the jokes we have played on one another - who could forget the pig's head in the pram that was meant to contain the baby? And if you have to be shown a photograph or given a written message on stage you better get your facial muscles under control - it's not going to be the one the props people provided! We have lost many valued members when they left the village, leaving a big gap in the club, but miraculously others appear to take their place.
How about you becoming one of those? We can assure you of a warm welcome, whether you want to act, paint scenery, hammer nails, work the lights or just make the tea.
It's great fun - come and join us!
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