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March 4 2019, County Drama Festival News

The County Drama Festival this year promises to be a vintage one, with nine plays entered in three sessions over the weekend of 23rd/24th March at the Warehouse Theatre in Ilminster.

There is tremendous variety on offer, with five pieces of new writing, and exciting and challenging youth entries from Clevedon School and Make Performing Arts. A couple of teams – Wells Little Theatre and Bleadon Players – are very welcome newcomers to the Festival, in addition to regulars like IES, who were last year’s winners and have two teams in this time, and Taunton Thespians who have had great success over the years. Troupers and Teignmouth Players, both winners in the past, are also back this year.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

Taunton Thespians: Red Peppers by Noel Coward

Dir: Jane Busby

In this old favourite, first presented as one of a collection of one act plays in Tonight at Eight, George and Lily Pepper are performing their faded music hall routine in a provincial English theatre but, backstage between musical numbers, tempers are frayed and the veneer soon cracks.

Make Performing Arts: If Only devised by the cast

Dir: Encore & Sophy Layzell

Given the theme of the ‘Toy Shop’, the cast decided they wished to create a piece which explores relationships – between siblings, friends, generations – and how we are shaped by them. The narrative is woven together and linked by a single teddy bear.

Wells Little Theatre: Counting Your Chickens by Mark Wall

Dir: The Cast

Set in the studio of a commercial radio station, where a live performance, complete with sound effects, is heading for disaster when the cast fail to turn up and three completely unprepared staff members have to stand in for them. Chaos reigns.

Ilminster Entertainments Society: Thank You For Protesting by Paul Adam Levy

Dir: Andy Carson

When a local government worker is tasked with replacing “a thing” on a street with another “thing”, a nearby resident takes it upon herself to put a stop to it in a civilised, law-abiding and dignified manner, much to the annoyance of a younger, more eager protester who is all for a more direct approach. A fast-moving farcical satire.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Troupers: The Flag by Neil Walden

Dir: Philip de Glanville

Mrs Mayhew is the headmistress of a small private girl’s school on the south coast. The school’s stability is threatened by the attitude of a member of her staff.

Clevedon School: Kill Jill by Mark Wheeller

Dir: Victoria Wright

Jill is the latest victim of Reality Lottery, a futuristic form of National Service to entertainment. She accompanies Jack as he robs George, unaware that the homeowner is lying in wait with a shotgun. The programme’s camera operator is filming everything, but should he intervene? The ending is stunningly ‘Tarantinoesque’.

Teignmouth Players: Nuts by Jefrey Pirie

Dir: Jefrey Pirie

A play about revenge, morality and peanuts. A hotel room, a kidnapped executive and two girls pretending to be air hostesses – what’s not to like?

SUNDAY EVENING

Bleadon Players: The Weatherman’s Harvest by Adrienne Howell

Dir: Pam Hillier

Perman Gould has returned home from fighting in the Peninsular War against Napoleon. The local common land has been enclosed and everyone is having to find other ways to make ends meet. His brother-in-law Isaac, known locally as a ‘Weatherman’, may have the solution.

Ilminster Entertainments Society: A Resounding Tinkle by NF Simpson

Dir: Richard Tingley

It would be wrong to say nothing surprises the Paradocks, Bro and Middie. It’s just that they take in their stride the things that would surprise us – like the fact that the elephant which they have had delivered, and is now trampling down all the flowers in the back garden, is much bigger than their usual one. Wonderfully wacky Theatre of the Absurd.

Sessions are at 2pm on Saturday 23rd March and at 2pm and 7pm on Sunday 24th March. The plays in each will be adjudicated publicly at the end of their session by Nancy Heath GoDA Ass. After the Sunday afternoon adjudications, Neil Walden – winner of last year’s Original Playwriting Competition with his play The Flag, as judged by Pam Hillier and her panel – will be presented with his award and a cheque for £100.

The various County Drama Festival awards, including those for Best Production, Best Actor and Best Actress etc, will be announced by Nancy Heath after the second play on Sunday evening and will be presented by Sam Allen, Chairman of the SFD.

Tickets for each session may be available if you contact one of the competing teams. Alternatively you can order them online at www.thewarehousetheatre.org.uk, cost £8 per session.