Amateur Drama is full of stories of mishaps and gaffs that pass into folklore in the group concerned. We are anxious to hear your stories. You don't have to name names. Send an email to this website ... firstname.lastname@example.org
TALES from the GREEN ROOM
The Town Hall Amateur Theatrical Society (THATS) was one of the foremost groups in Bournemouth
during the sixties, seventies and eighties. Their first production in the early fifties was the Ghost Train by Arnold Ridley who later found fame with Dad's Army. Most of you will know that this play takes place in a smokey railway waiting room.
John Mortimer, the Chairman of THATS was a sanitary inspector. (That's what they used to call them in those days, although what they call them nowadays is anybody's guess!) John was the producer and persuaded several of his assistants to help backstage.
One of the major jobs undertaken by sanitary inspector's assistants is providing smoke for the smoke tests on drains, so they were well equiped for the job.
They were so enthusiastic, that on the first night in St Peter's Hall the waiting room fireplace smoked so much the smoke filled the stage, backstage, dressing rooms and the auditorium. The croaking of the cast was almost drowned out by the coughing of the audience.
As one critic remarked "They smoke hams, don't they?" RS
John Taylor, a Bournemouth freelance photographer who sadly died last year, was keen on amateur theatre and frequently attended first nights. He used to sit at the end of an aisle near the front and spring into life now and then, flashing away and photographing the action on the stage.
My group was performing "The House on the Cliff", a mystery by George Batson on this particular first night. During this play, a thunderstorm takes place at a tense moment in the action.
The old St Peters Hall possessed an impressively large thundersheet, but the problem was that it was suspended at the top of a flight of stairs that led from the side of the stage.
The producer said to the backstage staff member deputed to work the thunder sheet - "just give it all you've got when you see the lightning flash on the stage." So he duly trotted up the stairs and parked himself by the thunder sheet.
John Taylor chose this scene to spring into action. The result was that every time he took a picture the thunder rolled. That was the longest and most vigorous thunderstorm in the history of the theatre! RS