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The Newsletter of the Leicester Drama Society

December 2019

• Kittens no more -

Robin Hood A Pantomime Diary Tuesday 5 November - 7.05pm

the Panto' principals & senior dancers

In early November, I dropped into a principals & senior dancers' rehearsal just after it had begun. Whoa, I thought upon entering 52 Up, that’s a first, there’s a dance number in the panto that sees Robin herd a group of kittens across Sherwood Forest. “Don’t worry” said a breathless Robin, as he saw the look of horror on my face, “This is the first time we have done this one and we are not quite there yet”. Phew. Good news, I mean, how many aimlessly wandering kittens were there in Sherwood Forest back in the day?

What's on in December?

Cazz, the choreographer called order and invited all to take it from the top, but this time with their game face on. And bosh. Thirty minutes later there it was. A killer song & dance number full of fun, nuance and a catchy lyric that I found myself singing on the bus on the way home. (Apparently I’m not allowed on the No 42 again. But I did get £1.50 & a couple of washers popped into my hat. Every cloud.) The rehearsal continued with the senior dancers performing the gypsy dance that I witnessed a couple of weeks earlier. Now complete with their gypsy skirts, it’s a polished number and definitely show ready. The dancers finished with the number that ends the first half. I’m sure Cazz said they should think of themselves as mermaids as they sought inspiration for their movements. “Mermaids? Quite preposterous” confirmed John “Mr Panto” Bale to me the next day, “The dancers are in fact “Spirits of the Water” rather than Mermaids”. I’m glad he cleared that up. For a moment I thought this panto' was completely made up! • CH

Inside Editorial Panto Diary Lettice & Lovage Our Front of House teams Our Costume Department Panto Diary Ellie Lomas One Woman Show

2 3-5 4-5 6 7 8

Editorial The Little Theatre Dover Street. Leicester. LE1 6PW. Theatre Manager Phillip Royley t: 0116 254 2266 e: Box Office t: 0116 255 1302 w: Leicester Drama Society Limited Board of Trustees (elected unless otherwise stated) Chairman & Trustee for Productions John Ghent Technical Trustee Andy Crooks Treasurer elect & Trustee without specific responsibility Charles Moss Trustee for Membership Tim Hogarth Jones Trustee for Facilities James Simpson

Congratulations to the three winners of our first 200 Club draw! The lucky share numbers were 28, 49 & 73. There are still places available in the 200 Club and the cost of a share has now reduced to £55. For this you will get entered into the draw for the next 11 months. After each subseqent draw the cost of a share will decrease by £5 until 12 draws have been made. Thereafter a full years payment is due. It's a complete pleasure to write the Panto' diary. One minute you are on a damp and dark city street, the next in the warm embrace of a dozen 20 year olds bouncing around a rehearsal space like the Duracell bunny. Them of course, not me! My Co-editor Emma has been a touch poorly recently so a big get well soon to her - unfortunately that means you have got more of me and less of Emma in this edition. Apologies. Finally may I, on behalf of Emma, myself, the LDS Trustees and all the Little Theatre staff wish all members and LDS friends a very Merry Christmas.

Marketing Trustee David Kimmins Honorary Secretary Mary Jones Trustees without specific responsibility Dennis Cooper • Simon Dickens Phil Wintle (Co-opted) Russell Hughes (Co-opted) Other Board Attendees Company Secretary Rob Thirlby (Appointed) Development Programme Director Jenny Harding (Co-opted)

Robin Hood A Pantomime Diary Tuesday 12 November - 6.15pm

Twenty Front of House staff gathered for a pre-panto season briefing and update in the Theatre bar. I’d like to report a fun filled gag-fest but it was all, quite rightly, a rather serious affair running through current FoH operating procedures and special arrangements for the forthcoming panto season led, in all good humour, by Fran Harris. Important work. The one light-hearted moment came when Fran couldn’t find the poster saying “No photography in the auditorium”. Someone suggested she should have taken a photo of it. Eight FoH staff are needed for each Panto’ performance and the show grids are filling up with the names of FoH volunteers. Some performances have their eight but there are still places available. Volunteers are also sought to staff the Panto' kids bar during each performance. Further details in the December Noticeboard • CH

Contributions to Scene are invited. Articles, images & ideas for stories are most welcome and if you are a nervous writer Editors Emma (EB) & Colin (CH) can write it for you. Our deadline is a week before the end of each month - but if you have a story then let us know before then to guarantee that we reserve space for you! Contact us via email at All photos in each edition of Scene are by the fabulous Sally Evans, unless otherwise stated. If members use any images of Little Theatre productions in any social media post please give a photo credit to the person who took the photo. In most cases, for production photos, this will be Sally Evans.


Lettice & Lovage An LDS Production • 21 - 26 October 2019 Karen Gordon was magnificent as Lettice Douffet in the recent LDS production of Lettice & Lovage - itself an extraordinary piece of theatre. Scene caught up with her before her next tour departed. I thought your performance as Lettice Douffet was simply outstanding – a complete tour de force – you've obviously done this acting lark before? Thank you for the kind words! I’ve been a member of The Little for a quarter of a century, so I should be comfortable on that stage by now! It’s an amazing space with a lovely accoustic and we have such wonderful teams, salaried and voluntary, to support every element of the performance. I started as a novice in workshops run by John Ghent and he gave me my first parts in his sell-out production of “A Christmas Carol”. His workshops were invaluable, as I had little idea of stage craft and a rather puny projection. Prior to this, I appeared at The Little in a drama festival in a performance of “Cluedo, the Musical”, devised by Lansdowne Drama Workshop. I had done props and sets but was promoted to the role of Miss Scarlet when the original actress, Dee, fell pregnant. The cast featured Steve Bull, who was my ideal Mr. Bardolph in “Lettice and Lovage”! I’ve come full circle! A meeting with the legendary John Hendrie made me join The Little; I wanted to be a part of a company that had such inspiring people working for it. With no disrespect to the other cast members, did you feel any pressure knowing that the success or otherwise of the play rests largely on your performance, given the size and centrality of the part you played? As soon as I knew the Lotte of my dreams had been cast, I knew I was safe. I’d worked with Hilary Foster before in “Pack of Lies” (also directed by David); I got on so well with her and she’s a wonderful actress. The relationship of Lotte and Lettice is the bedrock of the play and I think we complemented each other. David gave us great encouragement and freedom to create characters which felt natural and believable. What drew you to audition for the part? It had been written for Maggie Smith so I knew it had to be a corker! I admire the plays of Peter Schaffer (I’ve been in two productions of “Equus”) and I love the character of Lettice. She’s totally without guile, sincere in her passions and a rather lonely, touching figure. Like Judith Bliss, another of my favourite parts, she believes every ludicrous word that comes out of her mouth and even at her most florid moments has to be believable. When self-awareness dawns, her acceptance of her foolishness is so moving. For me the play had elements of farce, comedy, social commentary and pathos. How did you see it? Your assessment chimes with mine! How many of us have a nostalgia for an era of beauty, grace and manners, which has probably never existed anywhere? Oh, for an Age of Enlightenment! The irony is that Lettice harkens back to an age of splendour but barbarity, when no man in this country was safe, King or commoner. I love the way Lettice’s stories (and strong drink!) influence every character she comes into contact with, from the timid Miss • Continued overleaf


Our final fab four Front of House teams Our Front of House teams are a multi-talented bunch; meeting and greeting the audience, selling ice creams and programmes, seating the audience and there to lead & assist in an unlikely event of an evacuation during a show. The teams are lead each evening by a Front of House Manager, who themselves are led by Fran Harris, the theatre's Front of House Coordinator. Thursday Evening From the top & l to r Helena West • Kenneth Piggin • Gillian Walters • Ann De Voil Morley & Aileen Orme • Jean Geall • Kerry Cubin Marion • Ali Levy Margaret Dalaston • Jackie Caunt Photo Colin Hide

Friday Evening From the top & l to r Kenneth Piggin • Fred Hyman Elizabeth Spendlove • Daniel Fitzgerald Helen Musson • Carol Laws • June Kennell • Susan Gee Photo Sally Evans Framer (what a scene-stealer Penny is!) to the seemingly correct, inflexible Mr. Bardolph. The switch from her farcical appearance as the hapless executioner, in ill-fitting accessories, to the broken woman who has lost her only friends (Lotte and her beloved cat), is a masterly piece of writing. What techniques do you have (if any!) for learning your lines? I record my lines and cue lines into a microphone on our computer and then my technical wizard of a partner, Andy, transfers the file to my Ipod. I then listen to them whilst cycling to work and as frequently as necessary for them to stick. I started preparing for this play a month before rehearsals started. It was a good test of my memory, which is not what it was 25 years ago! I find that combining lines with moves helps to really cement them. Luckily, the play’s so enjoyable that constant repetition was a pleasure rather than a chore. What’s next for you now? I’ve got 3 weeks of rest, then it’s back to rehearsals. I’m delighted to have been cast in “Bracken Moor” as I adore spooky stories and it’s a really compelling chiller, with a cracking cast of friends, some of whom I’ve never worked onstage with. I’ve been directed by Mary Jones many happy times and I look forward to teaming up with my regular stage husband (and fellow giggler), Adam Jones. • KG


Saturday Evening From the top & l to r Joey Perez-Jones • Alan Batson Tracey Morris • Lucinda Springett • David Mason Diane Batson • Fran Harris Photo Sally Evans

Saturday matinee From the top & l to r Kenneth Piggin • Fred Hyman • Hilary Sanders • Andrew Milner Mike Batho • Christine Boat • Rachel Thorley Maggie Weller Photo Colin Hide

Tuesday Evening FoH Team The Tuesday evening team, whose photo appeared in the last edition of Scene, is led by Janet Tilley who, due to convalescence, was not present on the evening when the team photo was taken. Janet was also omitted from the photo credit. Apologies to all • CH

Penny Kimmins vacated the Director's chair for Lettice & Lovage and chose to join the ensemble. It’s some years since I acted in a play (‘Carrie’s War’ in this theatre) and since then I have stuck to directing - until I played the small roles of Tourist and Miss Framer in ‘Lettice and Lovage’ in October. As a director, I always have great respect and gratitude for the members of the backstage team, but taking on an acting role allowed me to experience again firsthand what absolute treasures they are! I saw how the DSM, SM and crew expertly dealt with changing and flying sets and how they calmly managed an unexpected crisis during performance; experienced how magic hands created lighting and sound; how lovely dressers were ready with costumes for quick changes; how efficient hands held out props on the way to the stage and saw how every evening the prompter climbed the ladder to perch for the entire performance in her eyrie! And how delightful to be actually applauded by these lovely people each night after the curtain call – and you can bet your life we applauded them back! Absolute gems, every one of them! • PK


Our Costume & Costume Hire Department The strapline of our costume department should be "Costumiers to the Stars" if their recent clients are anything to go by. Shelley Branston introduces her team and continues our series showcasing the various departments in the Theatre. Hello! We’ve been asked to introduce ourselves. So here goes. We are Karen Gordon, who you will all know, and Shelley Branston. I’ve worked here for 15 years and Karen has been here for 10 years. We are situated in 52 Albion Street (just up from the theatre) in John Bales' “Wardrobe”. Most of the costumes used on stage at The Little Theatre come down here to be stored. In addition, we have many items that have been generously donated by the public. We hire costumes out to schools, universities, drama groups and the general public. Recently we have costumed Oliver! for the Idols and we’re now busy costuming Scrooge for the Uppingham Theatre. Both productions involved producing 30+ costumes for each. As with all departments within the theatre we have the help of wonderful volunteers, collectively known as “Bitch & Stitch”. We have our very own Window Twanky, alias Jean Fletcher (washing & ironing). Jean took over from the marvellous Brenda Milton. Also Shirley Thomas (seamstress extraordinaire), Denise Hargreaves (Maker), Hilary Sanders, Elaine Bryan and Betty Jennings (all round good eggs who will do anything asked of them). Last, but not least, we have John Henry, Brenda Milton and Alex Briggs Dolman who come and give us support and biscuits. If you have a few hours to spare, please come and join us. Don’t be afraid, despite their sobriquet they’re a friendly bunch. • SB

Photos From the top & l to r • Denise Hargreaves, Hilary Sanders, Betty Jennings, Elaine Bryan and Jean Fletcher • Chris Edwards, Bassist of Kasabian • Shelley Branston • Karen Gordon with 'Strictly' champion Joe McFadden • Shirley Thomas Photos Karen Gordon


asking themselves if he was going to finish all of that. Or was that just me?

Robin Hood A Pantomime Diary Thurday 21 November - 3.10pm

It’s a moment of utter November deliciousness. That moment when you leave the cold damp chill of Dover Street, present your card and on the sound of the buzzer throw open the door, enter and get enveloped in the warmth of the theatre. I love it. Yet there’s more. Much more. Now “The Cat” has departed there is the frisson of Panto' in the air. I find the sewing bees hard at work; diamante brocade for a fitted bodice, mock ostrich feathers and sequins a plenty – and that’s just their workwear. I jest. They are hard at work making costumes for the panto' principals. Racks and racks of them.

Robin Hood A Pantomime Diary Thurday 21 November - 7.05pm

Well that was awkward. I thought I could smell something as I snook into 52 Up. Toast. Only this didn’t involve butter and jam. This was John Bale giving the principals a good natured "toasting". Apparently there was too much panto' at the last principal’s rehearsal and so he was inviting them to lose the levity, concentrate a little more and make some real progress. The Musical Director added an approving comment too. Trouble was, he was munching what looked like a Greggs Sausage roll at the time so no one appeared to be listening, rather

Next door in the Scenic workshop Anna Field, Ian Connor & John Brooks are hard at work with jigsaws shaping wood for scenery and prepping it for decorative painting. It’s then carried up to the stage where Lynsey Brecknell is ready with her trusty Purdy paint brush. The outline of leaves are traced, then block filled with colour. Once dry the leaf edges are highlighted with a contrasting colour, then coated with glitter to make each leaf sparkle. Acorns are added sometime later. Here’s one they made earlier – and it looks fab.

Duly chastised, the naughty step was vacated and Act 1 rehearsal began. The Eco-Warrior set the scene, Poison Ivy stirred the pot and we were off. The script is hilarious, the cast are talented and progress was made. It’s a fascinating process. A missed line here, a stumble and rhythm is lost, not just for the individual but for the others whose lines are next. I realised that why it’s called an ensemble; group success depends on the individual. All for one and one for all. Oops wrong Panto'! There were props & props people this time to add an extra dimension to the rehearsal and an audience of two. Act 1 concluded and “Notes” were given. A good natured process full of eager faces wishing to improve. I left shortly after, in search of a hot sausage roll. • CH

I was allowed a teaser pic' however. I can reveal, that it involves 10 sheets of polystene, a hot wire cutter, trolley wheels, muslin and paint. And it’s not the Blue Peter advert crown. (If you are under 40 you’ll have to Google that one) The Box Office is looking good too. Many performances have only a few tickets left with only the later dates in January having good availability.

Set designer Kevin Jenkins was hard at work making I know not what. Well, I do actually and I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you afterwards. It’s top secret and will be until the big reveal on Opening Night.

So cover me in glitter and call me Tinker Bell but I think this panto is coming along nicely. Oops wrong panto'! • CH


Ellie Lomas - One Woman Show Ellie Lomas appeared recently in the LDS production Single Spies. In the Q&A that accompanied the play photographs in the last edition of Scene she revealed she had written & performed a one woman show as part of her final year degree dissertation. Ellie recently graduated with a first - so it must have been an exceptional piece of theatre. We asked Ellie to tell us more about her creative process and the piece that she created. As part of my course, our final year dissertation was in the form of a devised performance. This performance should showcase the skills we had learnt over the three years and for us to debut to the public as theatre creators. Over the three years, I found my niche was using verbatim (real life stories) and using theatre as a platform to advocate with a particular focus on women's issues. Thus, for my dissertation I created a one woman show entitled “Working For The Man”. The title of my dissertation and the premise of my piece was:“Female sexuality is tainted by an adherence to male's needs and exploitation; therefore men should be put on trial for the prostitution of women. Is sex work taken seriously as a profession? And are we doing enough to support and protect women in the sex trade? Or those wanting to leave it? Working For The Man explores the hard hitting truth of a profession widely recognised but still taboo”. For the process the first step was research. I like to gather pieces and compile them into one big document, I found images, facts and most importantly the source of the true stories. Nordic Now is a charity which advocates for the rights of sex workers and they kindly allowed me to use testimonies from women they have worked with. Furthermore using social media I was contacted by women who shared their stories with me. Looking at the stories I compiled them into sections which would be the structure of the piece. The next step was recording the script, I knew I wanted the piece to be immersive and chose to only perform to one audience member at a time. Therefore the performance was delivered to the audience entirely through headphones and the piece was carried out within a car. The process was fairly easy as I recorded with a microphone on my laptop and then edited the piece together into one mp3. Vocally I used different accents to represent the stories coming from different voices and the piece was brought together with music to create ambience and heighten moments of vulnerability and danger. Through rehearsal the piece became a routine to me. What was most interesting was the audience's reactions to the piece ranging from emotional, discomfort such as awkward laughter which was very funny and how people felt immersed in the setting and the world of the piece. It was an incredible experience to create a performance which I was so passionate about and also to challenge myself as a theatre creator, pushing the boundaries of setting, form and structure of theatre.


LDS Noticeboard - December Audition Notice CLASS by Golden and Horan

Performance dates in the studio will be the second week in March 2020. The play is set in a classroom in Ireland, there are five parts played by three actors, one male teacher and two parents who double as two children. The play is very moving and will be a great opportunity to traverse emotions and characterise. Auditions will be held on Sunday 1st Dec in the studio at 1700hrs and Tues 3rd Dec at 1930hrs, 52 down. If you are interested then please email me. e: Nomorespamforsimon@googlemail.c om

Over the last few weeks the society has lost two long serving members;

Angela Guiver & Peter Gurney. Both have contributed to the society in their own style.

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (adapted by Laura Eason) - Company List Congratulations to those who have been successful and a big thank you to everyone who auditioned over the various nights! The talent on offer was of a very high standard, thus making the Director's job very difficult. Phileas Fogg Passerartout Inspector Fix Mrs Aouda Ensemble

• • • • • • • •

David Lovell Keir Watson Joshua Knott Liz Kavanagh-Knott Laura Heybrock Leeann Rana Jeremy Thompson Sam White

Director Scenic Design Costume Design Lighting Sound AV

• • • • • •

Ruth Cheetham Kevin Jenkins John Bale Alex Crooks Andrew Northcote Tim Neville

Stage Manager Deputy Stage Manager Props Prompter Production Photographs

• • • • •

Nadine Hall Nikki Strickland Alison Lee & Wendy Davies Judith Andrew Sally Evans

Notes from the November Board meeting: 1. The Chairman undertook the first draw for the LDS 200 Club. The results are as follows: 1st Prize: £250 : Share number: 28 2nd Prize: £100: Share number: 49 3rd Prize: £50: Share number: 73 2. The Board reviewed the Profit & Loss Account for the year ended 31 July 2019 and the draft Balance Sheet for the same period. It is essential that the Society builds up its cash reserves, which must exclude all monies raised for the new building fund. This cannot be achieved by constant increases in ticket prices and ways must be found to reduce the ever-increasing costs of running this theatre. 3. The Board noted that Shelley Branston will retire from her job as Senior Wardrobe Assistant (Stock and Hiring) in March 2020. 4. The Board was sorry to receive a letter of resignation as a Trustee and Company Director from Dennis Cooper. Dennis and Gillian hope to move to Lincolnshire before the end of this year. Dennis has been a member of LDS for a considerable time and has worked Front of House, as an actor, as a DSM, as a Prompter, and as a Trustee. The Board thanked him most sincerely for his hard work and wished him and Gillian all the best for the future.

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