The Phoebe Rees Competition
Please note: Due to Covid-19, regrettably this competition has been cancelled for the 2020/21 season. We very much hope to be able to accept entries for the following season which starts on 1st September 2021.
There was however a 'virtual' Presentation Evening to celebrate the dozen plays which we did manage to adjudicate prior to lockdown in March. This was broadcast/posted on the SFD's Facebook page at 7.45pm on Friday 16th October. You can still see it here .
The Phoebe Rees is a year-round full-length play competition which is open to any SFD affiliated drama group. Productions are judged by one of a panel of visiting adjudicators, and the group receives a full written adjudication, usually within a week or two of the performance. The cost is £30 for Societies which are paid-up members of the SFD.
The rules as to what consitutes 'a play' for the purposes of this competition were clarified in 2011, in order to provide "an equitable basis for adjudication and moderation".
The following criteria must apply to any production submitted for entry to the Phoebe Rees full-length play competition:
• it has a continuous narrative thread/plot line (which may or may not be chronologically sequenced)
• it has some consistency of character/s
• it has a running time of at least one hour (excluding interval)
The Adjudicator is responsible for marking the production, using a scheme devised by GODA - the Guild of Drama Adjudicators - and for nominating outstanding performances and exemplary production elements, in any of 25 categories.
Every production is also seen by a Moderator, whose job it is to provide a benchmark against which each entry can be judged when the panel meets in early September to discuss the merits of all the productions seen that year, and to decide on the winner in each category.
The nominations are published in Spotlight Online in mid-September every year and the winners are announced at the Phoebe Presentation Evening in October. You can find a list of previous Phoebe Rees Trophy winners here .
More details are available to individual SFD Members and to Club Contacts under Documents & Resources in the left hand menu, where you can find out about how productions are marked and see the list of trophies to be awarded, as well as being able to download an entry form.
If your group or society has any doubt regarding a proposed Phoebe Rees entry, please contact the Moderator via the Co-ordinator . A printed and bound copy of your proposed script (no photocopies please, unless it is out of print), with any major changes clearly indicated, must be sent to the Adjudicator (as specified by the Competition Co-ordinator) no less than two weeks before performance.
Entry forms: It is now possible to fill in and submit your entry form on line. Click here to view, or to request a printable version if you prefer.
Moderator: Philip de Glanville
Adjudicating Panel: Lyn Lockyer, June Jenkins and Liz Holliss
The 2019/20 Awards Evening was held by Zoom on Friday 16th October 2020. You can watch it on YouTube here.
Phoebe Rees Awards - Winners 2019/20
Best Effects: Taunton Thespians – Deathtrap
Effects added greatly to our enjoyment of this production - notably the goulish make-up for Clifford's shocking 'resurrection'' from his grave in the vegetable patch and later the crossbow bolt half-buried in his abdomen. The shocks just kept coming, and were extremely well-achieved by the Director, Jane Leakey, and her team.
Best Sound: Swan Theatre Co – Regeneration
Sound was used to extraordinarily good effect in the opening of the play, where we were subjected to a terrifying artillery bombardment, but also more subtly throughout the production - the offstage sounds of a tennis match at Craiglockhart, the girls in the pub in Edinburgh, the eerie whispering which so alarmed Seigfried etc; a beautifully managed soundscape.
Best Lighting: Swan Theatre Co – Constellations
Lighting was very well thought out and brilliantly executed to complement this unusual production - the illuminated 'scenic feature' was a master-stroke, and the use of mood-colour on the back gauze extremely effective, as was the focal lighting of the two characters on that totally black set. Very impressive.
Best Props: Barnstormers – Goodnight Mister Tom
There were a great number of props required to support the idea that this play was set early in WW2, and they were chosen with great skill and attention to detail, but additionally there was Sammy the dog, presented as an extremely effective puppet, made for the production by Gary Robinson, and the squirrel and the hens - utterly delightful!
Best Costumes: IES – Beauty & The Beast
The wardrobe team had used a great deal of imagination and skill in creating costumes for all the characters in this quirky version of the well-known fairytale, as told by our comperes - the two ageing fairies, Pink and Cecile.
Best Set Construction: Taunton Thespians – Deathtrap
The magnificent set was the first of many surprises sprung on us by Taunton Thespians in this very well-managed production, and brought a nice round of applause from the audience as the tabs opened and we saw a remarkably realistic timber framed stable conversion, complete with a typical New England fieldstone fireplace. Beautifully done.
Best Creative Set Design: Wells Little Theatre – Anne of Green Gables
The creative team at Wells had made excellent use of their very deep but rather narrow stage in the Little Theatre, with the Cuthbert's kitchen and Anne's little bedroom upstage, framed by that green gabled roof which was silhouetted very effectively against the cyc, with a general acting area downstage, representing all sorts of settings, from railway station to schoolroom to riverbank, and Rachel Lynde's cottage down R, indicated very successfully by just a honeysuckle-trailed porch. Nice.
Best Stage Management: West Huntspill Players – Cold Comfort Farm
This is a very demanding play to put on in a village hall on a tiny stage with almost no wing space, because there are so many settings, but using the cast to move props and furniture quietly and seamlessly kept the production flowing beautifully and apparently without any hitch - extremely well-choreographed.
Artistic Impression: Barnstormers – Goodnight Mister Tom
This is a play firmly set in the late 30s and early 40s, moving between the peace of a quiet Dorest village and the horrors of London in the blitz, and the creative team - set design, set dressing, props, costume, lighting and sound - worked extremely well together to make this period piece highly credible. Excellent work.
Best Youth U16: Wells Little Theatre – Anne of Green Gables (Matilda Friend as Anne Shirley)
Though only 12 at the time, we understand, you gave a remarkably mature performance, carrying the play with confidence, keeping up the energy and pace throughout, with good projection, and also bringing sensitivity to the role, and winning over the hearts of both the Cuthberts and your audience.
Best U21 Male: Street Theatre Co – Mayfly (Locryn Gadd as Harry)
Good stage presence and an impressive ability to listen actively without feeling you had to do too much. Your interaction with the three other characters seemed so real, with no trace of 'staginess'. Harry's social awkwardness was very nicely conveyed and you got some really good laughs because you timed your delivery so well, but it was your final pain-filled monologue which showed how deeply you had immersed yourself in this role. Very good work.
Best Female Cameo: IES – Beauty & The Beast (Maddie Lowe as Rabbit)
A non-speaking role which you characterised extremely well with facial expression and mime, and in which you found every ounce of humour. We particularly loved your tuneless rendition of 'Silent Night' - not easy to sing so badly with such intense concentration, but you did it with complete conviction and we loved it!
Best Male Cameo: Swan Theatre Co – Regeneration (Mark Payne as Capt. Burns)
Again a wordless role to which you brought remarkable intensity, and then showed great courage as an actor to leap up on the table in the darkness to relive his awful experience of battle in that sudden flashback. A highly memorable performance.
Best Featured Female Actor: Wells Little Theatre – Anne of Green Gables (Emma James as Rachel Lynde)
A good sense of comic timing in this role as the neighbourly busybody, whom you invested with great charm, showing great ability to underplay humorous lines to very good effect. Nicely done.
Best Featured Male Actor: Swan Theatre Co – Regeneration (Brian Williams as Callan)
We felt that this characterisation was probably the best piece of acting we had seen on the amateur stage for many a year; you played this mute, bewildered, shell-shocked man with total conviction - an extremely moving performance. Bravo.
Best Supporting Female Actor: Tickenham Drama Group – Habeas Corpus (Carole Price as Connie Wicksteed)
You entered fully into the spirit of the piece, with suitably flat-chested coyness wrapped in that drab cardigan and then with such enthusiastic abandon once her false boobs had arrived - tremendous energy, great characterisation and delightfully funny.
Best Supporting Male Actor: West Huntspill Players – Cold Comfort Farm (Alan Jarvis as Adam)
You were almost unrecognisable in the tatty old straw hat and filthy smock, with several days of stubble and the broadest of rural accents - so completely 'right' in this role. Well done.
Best Female Actor: Street Theatre Co – Mayfly (Karen Trevis as Cat)
You seemed to have found every grain of truth in your portrayal of this desperately unhappy woman, which made your performance almost unbearably moving. Very fine work.
Best Male Actor: Taunton Thespians – When We Are Married (Andy Busby as Joe Helliwell)
We felt that you filled this leading role as the convivial host with great aplomb; a rather pompous self-made man, played with terrific confidence and excellent stagecraft. Clearly your time to shine! Congratulations on a most enjoyable and impressive performance.
The Marie Gannicott (Champagne Moment): Taunton Thespians – Clifford's 'resurrection' in Deathtrap
The concerted gasp of horror from the whole Brewhouse audience when Clifford's hand punched through the terrace curtains to grasp Sydney by the throat bore witness to the remarkable way in which this shock had been maximised - very satisfying!
The George Crocker Challenge Trophy: Barnstormers - Amy Bullock as Sammy the dog, in Goodnight Mister Tom
Amy's ability as a puppeteer to bring Sammy to life and to play an essential and lovable character in this production was marvellous to watch. June Jenkins, as Adjudicator, felt that she could easily have had a role in a professional production like 'War Horse'.
Best Direction: Street Theatre Co – Mayfly (Neil Howiantz)
In his programme notes, Neil said that he had worked for four months with his small cast of four very talented actors in exploring the truths in this remarkable new play, and it really paid off. A beautifully balanced, highly nuanced, piece of theatre which held us all enthralled. Superb.
Gordon Neagle Cup (Best Non-Theatre-based Production): West Huntspill Players – Cold Comfort Farm
This play has a large cast and a wide variety of settings but West Huntspill Players managed it very well on their small stage in the Balliol Hall and produced a very funny, smooth flowing and well-choreographed production which clearly delighted their capacity audience.
Best Production: Swan Theatre Co – Regeneration
A very difficult play to stage, and probably well beyond the reach of most amateur Societies, but Swan Theatre Co made it look almost effortless to produce such quality in all departments - presentation, direction and performance were all of a very high standard and the production got a remarkable total of 16 nominations. Bravo!
A report by Sam Allen, SFD Chairman, of the Awards Evening held by Zoom on Friday 16th October 2020, along with a full list of nominations, can be found in Spotlight Online.