Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Pandemic Play Readings

We replaced our monthly meeting with a Zoom meeting.  I have now set up some two weekly Zoom play readings, during which we'll start off by working our way through Alan Ayckbourn's Norman Conquests.

I hope that you will enjoy them!

15 April: Table Manners

29 April:  Living Together

13 May:  Round & Round the Garden

27 May: Abigail's Party

10 June:  Deathtrap

24 June:  The Audience

8 July:  Rookery Nook



I'll email details to you as and when!


Saturday, March 28, 2020

1st April: Pack of Lies

Due to the lock down we will have a virtual meeting this month!

If you are seeing this and not a member of the group, please contact me and I will give you further information.

In the meantime, stay well all!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

4th March: Locke



Our play for March is in fact a film, and one you might not have ever heard of.  Although critically acclaimed and having a stellar cast (Tom Hardy in the main role and also featuring Olivia Coleman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels, Tom Holland and Bill Milner) it did not become a box office hit.
Fortunately Rina saw it and wants to share it with you!

Locke
Locke is a 2013 British–American film.
The evening before he must supervise a large concrete pour in Birmingham (the largest non-nuclear facility, non-military concrete pour in European history), construction foreman Ivan Locke learns receives a telephone call that will change his life.

One thing you need to know, and which is key to the film:  Because concrete cures (which is not the same as drying such as with paint) how it is handled after it is poured is just as important as how it is mixed.  (You thought I was joking about learning a lot about concrete didn't you!)






Thursday, January 9, 2020

5th February: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie


Once again you have refused to believe how easy the cakes I make for you are!  Well, here's the Mincemeat Cake recipe!  Bon Appetit!

Mincemeat Cake
Serves: 10 - Prep:10min  ›  Cook:2hr  

Ingredients
225g (8 oz) self-raising flour, sifted
140g (5 oz) butter, softened - this is important as you are going to mix by hand
140g (5 oz) dark soft brown sugar 
85g (3 oz) sultanas - or similar
450g (1 lb) mincemeat - with a good glug of brandy, or similar tipple, stirred in
2 eggs, beaten

Method
1.    Preheat oven to 160 C / gas mark 3, grease and line a 20cm (8 in) round tin.
2.    Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
3.    Turn into prepared tin, bake for 1 and 3/4 hours. (Check with skewer/cocktail stick to ensure it comes away clean). Leave in tin for about 15 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

-------------


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie


In February, we will be reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,  which, before being turned into a play, was a 1969 British film based on the novel by Muriel Spark, and starred Maggie Smith in the title role.

Jean Brodie is a teacher at Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1930s. Brodie is known for her tendency to stray from the school's curriculum, to romanticize fascist leaders like Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco, and to believe herself to be in the prime of life. Brodie devotes her time and energy to her four special 12-year-old junior school girls, called the Brodie Set: Sandy, Monica, Jenny and Mary.


Characters

Jean Brodie:  "She thinks she is Providence, thought Sandy, she thinks she is the God of Calvin." In some ways she is: in her prime she draws her chosen few to herself, much as Calvinists understand God to draw the elect to their salvation. With regard to religion, Miss Brodie "was not in any doubt, she let everyone know she was in no doubt, that God was on her side whatever her course, and so she experienced no difficulty or sense of hypocrisy in worship while at the same time she went to bed with the singing master."

Sandy:  Of the set, "Miss Brodie fixed on Sandy," taking her as her special confidante. She is characterised as having "small, almost nonexistent, eyes" and a peering gaze. Miss Brodie repeatedly reminds Sandy that she has insight but no instinct. 

Jenny:  In contrast to Sandy, Jenny is an attractive blonde with (according to Miss Brodie) instinct but no insight. Though somewhat undeservedly, Jenny is "famous for sex", and the art teacher Mr. Lloyd asks her to model for his paintings.

Mary Macgregor:  Dim-witted and slow, Mary is Brodie's scapegoat. Mary meekly bears the blame for everything that goes wrong.

Supporting characters
  • Monica – one of the set; famous for mathematics and her anger
  • Teddy Lloyd – the art master
  • Gordon Lowther – the singing master
  • Miss Mackay – the headmistress


Intertextuality!  Other things to bear in mind - in brief!

La Traviata:  An opera about a courtisan that was considered morally corrupt when it was first produced in the mid 19th Century.


The Lady of Shalott:  A poem about the cursed effect that the glance of Sir Lancelot has on the Lady of Shalott, imprisoned on an island.




Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Pre-Raphaelite poet and artist, renown for his affairs with various models and the wives of fellow artists.






Tuesday, December 31, 2019

January: A taste of Honey

Hello Ladies

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2020!  I hope you all had a very happy Festive Period and that this year will be good to you.  Personally I'm very happy to see the back of 2019!  THANK YOU for putting up with the cancellations and changes of plan.  

Part of the fall out of 2019 continues, in that I am organising regular trips to the UK to see my Mum, and this will unfortunately affect some of our dates.  I have not filled in the whole year, but here are the dates that I can do in 2020 so far ... unfortunately this does mean that it will not always be the first Wednesday of the month, and may still be subject to change - I hope that you can bear with me:

8th January
5th February
4th March
8th April ** 2nd Weds
6th May *
3rd June *

* Possibly might change


I am sorry about having to cancel December, and I am holding the missed play over until December 2020 as it is an ideal Christmas play.  

Therefore we are starting 2020 off with a play that I have 'oven ready' (groan ... and apologies) although it's not a bright and fun start to the year. However, it should be good.  We have read Shelagh Delaney before, The Memory of Water, which we greatly enjoyed.


A Taste of Honey is Shelagh Delaney's first play, written when she was 19. It was initially intended as a novel, but she turned it into a play because she hoped to revitalise British theatre and to address social issues that she felt were not being presented. 

The play was first produced by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop and was premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, a small fringe theatre in London, on 27 May 1958, and was adapted into a film in 1961 starring Rita Tusshingham and Dora Bryan.

A Taste of Honey is set in Salford in North West England in the 1950s. Jo, a seventeen-year-old working class girl, lives with her mother, Helen, who leaves Jo alone in their new flat after she begins a relationship with Peter, a rich lover who is younger than her. At the same time Jo begins a romantic relationship with Jimmy, a black sailor. 


Characters
  • Helen: A hardened, working class single mother and alcoholic.
  • Josephine:  Helen's teenage daughter, known as 'Jo', raised solely by Helen.
  • Peter: Helen's younger, wealthy boyfriend from London.
  • The Boy: Also known as Jimmy, a black sailor. 
  • Geoffrey: An art student in his early twenties who becomes Jo's roommate and friend.





Saturday, November 9, 2019

4 December - Life and Beth


Allelujah!  In November we finally managed to read Allelujah!   However, I am wondering if it was worth the effort and stress of reading a play with sooooo many characters, and I will try very hard to rein in my flights of fancy and stick to smaller casts!

For December I luckily stumbled across an Ayckbourn Christmas play.  It being Ayckbourn it's not exactly a pantomime!




Life and Beth is a 2008 play by Alan Ayckbourn. It was written as a third part of a trilogy named Things That Go Bump, uniting the cast of the first two plays: Haunting Julia (1994) and Snake in the Grass (2002) which we recently read. It is about a recently bereaved widow, Beth, troubled by her family’s misguided support and a late husband who won’t leave her alone.  Ayckbourn considered it his equivalent to Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit (which we've also read!).

This the first play to be written since Alan Ayckbourn’s stroke in 2006. After the stroke, he doubted if he could return to writing, at some points considering giving it up and just directing. 

It is Christmas, and the play begins with recently bereaved Beth and her sister-in-law, Connie, sitting watching carols on television. Connie, in a one-sided conversation, praises her late brother, Gordon. Although Beth quietly agrees with Connie’s idea of her idyllic marriage to Gordon, she expresses subtle annoyance with Connie’s idea that the whole family will have to look after her this first Christmas alone, and Connie’s hints of self-pity don’t help either. Beth is more concerned about the disappearance of her cat, Wagstaff, who disappeared on the day of the funeral.


Characters: 
·         Beth, a recently bereaved widow, very much subservient to her husband during their marriage but now living her own life
·         Gordon, Beth’s late overbearing and pedantic husband, formerly a Health & Safety officer
·         Connie, Gordon’s alcoholic sister, marginalised by her family in favour of her brother
·         David, the local vicar
·         Martin, Gordon and Beth’s son, well-meaning but inheriting all of the wrong attributes of Gordon
·         Ella, Martin’s new girlfriend, overpowered by Martin’s misplaced affection

The original play starred some familiar names to some of us: Lisa Goddard & Susie Blake.










Saturday, October 5, 2019

6 November: Allelujah! or A Taste of Honey


In October, because we really do  need 10 people to read Allelujah!, we read Travels with my Aunt, which was a much easier read and fun!

In November I again propose Allelujah! (see October for more details).  We read it with the ECC group and it was incredibly complicated to allocate parts even though there were more than 10 of us!  But the group enjoyed it and I'm sure you will.  But, advance warning, it is almost IMPOSSIBLE for me to judge how many lines any person is given at any time ... so PLEASE bear with me if the allocation seems unequal, it really REALLY isn't personal!  It's just REALLY hard to work out!  


The alternative option is  A Taste of Honey if we are fewer than 10!



A Taste of Honey is Shelagh Delaney's first play, written when she was 19. It was initially intended as a novel, but she turned it into a play because she hoped to revitalise British theatre and to address social issues that she felt were not being presented. 

The play was first produced by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop and was premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, a small fringe theatre in London, on 27 May 1958, and was adapted into a film in 1961 starring Rita Tusshingham and Dora Bryan.

A Taste of Honey is set in Salford in North West England in the 1950s. Jo, a seventeen-year-old working class girl, lives with her mother, Helen, who leaves Jo alone in their new flat after she begins a relationship with Peter, a rich lover who is younger than her. At the same time Jo begins a romantic relationship with Jimmy, a black sailor. He proposes marriage but then goes to sea, leaving Jo pregnant and alone.

Characters

  • Helen: A hardened, working class single mother and alcoholic.
  • Josephine:  Helen's teenage daughter, known as 'Jo', raised solely by Helen.
  • Peter: Helen's younger, wealthy boyfriend from London.
  • The Boy: Also known as Jimmy, a black sailor. Jo falls in love with him and becomes pregnant.
  • Geoffrey: An art student in his early twenties who becomes Jo's roommate and friend.