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Suffolk Summer Theatre – the beginning…

This is a short and sweet post just to put you all in the picture about how my first season of Repertory Theatre is going.  I’ve always wanted to do rep and when the opportunity arose earlier this year I snapped it up.  Add in the fact that I’ll be spending the majority of my 12 weeks in Southwold (with Aldeburgh being the other venue) and I couldn’t refuse – I holidayed here as a Suffolk Summer Theatresmall boy for 3 summers in the 1980’s!  Anyway, it’s all happening now and this is supposed to be a post about the current, not the past…

I’ve been here just over 2 weeks and we open our first play, How The Other Half Loves by Alan Ayckbourn, in 2 days time.  The time pressure in rehearsals is vast!  I still feel like I’ve only just arrived in Suffolk but this afternoon we did a full run on set and in costume (albeit with the set being in a workshop and not on a stage).  There are 6 in the cast and 4 have performed here before; Michael Shaw, Kate Middleton, Rosanna Miles and Eliza McClelland.  Rick Savery and I are in our first seasons.  Our director, David Harris, is very thorough and our 3-strong stage management team of Kate, Antonia and Laurie are really on the ball.  Wardrobe Mistress, Miri Birch, and designer, Maurice Rubens, have created some wonderful designs and everything is being overseen with aplomb by producers Mark Sterling and Peter Adshead.  As ever with these things there are loads of other people heavily involved and I can’t possibly mention them all (but rest assured they are all fantastic!)!

Rehearsals have been hard going with the first play as Ayckbourn’s work is always so technical.  He’s a very precise writer and it’s important to thoroughly dissect his text.  This play has a very unique style, too, involving 2 scenes being played out at the same time on stage – a theatrical device which I have not come across before in this way.  It’s really quite hard to explain Southwold Poppiesbut regardless of that I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone coming along so I’ll keep schtum for now and let you see the production photographs when they come out!  It’s set in 1969 and the colours and patterns in the costumes, set and props are wonderful!

Looking towards the next week or so really starts to show you how a rep season works.  So next Monday morning we have a read through and then start rehearsals for the second play that I’m in.  Yep, rehearsing for Out Of Order by Ray Cooney from 10 ’til 5 and then performing How The Other Half Loves at 8pm.  That all happens for 3 weeks until HTOTL closes on a Saturday to be replaced by OOO on the Monday.  Then guess what?  Yep, we start rehearsing my third and final play, September Tide by Daphne Du Maurier, on the Tuesday morning and the process is repeated again – exhausting mentally and physically!  Having said that, though, I’m blummin’ loving every minute…

I’ll keep you informed of how it’s going (if I can find the time!) but again, if you want to come along and see one, two or all of the shows then please do.  I’m sure we can go for a pint of Adnams or two afterwards…!Southwold panoramic

Incidentally, I did an interview with the Friends of East Suffolk Performing Arts (FESPA) before I came here and it’s available as a PDF online.  Click on this link to see the magazine and then scroll down to page 4!!


    • Gerry Hinks on Tuesday 7 July 2015 at 11:15 am
    • Reply

    Hi Chris! I ENVY YOU! Even though I did 17 years performing with the company since 1993 in 25 or so productions. You are privileged to be employed by the ‘Rolls Royce’ of seaside rep companies – according to the Observer (or was it the Guardian?) who spent a few days researching, photographing, and writing about the company. Praise indeed! Without doubt, there is something magical about being a part of the company. In reality, it’s a working holiday, played out in a most beautiful part of England. Ask a few who have been there several times about skinny dipping at Walberswick; now that’s something you’ll never forget! You’re very fortunate to be selected from the hundreds of applications received each year, so make the most of it! It’s probably the only time that you’ll experience playing every performance to virtually full houses; such us the popularity of Southwold Summer Theatre. Do give my best wishes to Michael Shaw, Kate Middleton, and Rosanna Miles and tell them I’ll be down early August to see a couple of shows! ENJOY!!!!

      • MrCC on Thursday 9 July 2015 at 12:39 pm
      • Reply

      Thanks Gerry! I’ll pass your regards onto the gang, am yes, I do feel very honoured to be here!! Hope you’re well, sir. C. x

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