Ian has been an integral part of the group for many years both on and off stage, so will be a familiar face to our returning audiences. He has taken part in acting, directing and set building, but also for a large part of his time with us being part of the committee. Ian is our group Secretary and has put in a lot of work to enable our move to Witcombe amongst other things.
When did you join The Curtain Callers (formerly Churchdown Players)?
It was 1995. We went to a reading of a play, supporting our two girls who were interested in being cast and somehow, without auditioning we ended up with parts.
What is the first show you directed?
I can’t remember the name of the play, it was for The Single Act Play Competition, hosted by the Gloucestershire Drama Association at The Kings Barton Theatre in Gloucester. We got a creditable mention but the judges were very critical of us having a coffee table perfectly square on to the audience, never again. We then took the play to several venues as part of other entertainments.
My first full play was Mistress and Masterpiece in 1999. Most memorable for a bright ginger wig one of the male cast members had to wear and the large painting on the set of Janet posing naked on a chaise. We still have the painting in our loft.
What has been your favourite show to direct?
I don’t have to pause to consider this answer. By far and away the best play/production I have been involved with is Present Laughter, by Noel Coward. We did the show in 2014 and I had the most perfect cast, some of whom have asked whether we could do it again. Maybe, if I could learn all those lines again. Someone who had been involved in amateur dramatics for a very long time and whose opinion I respected very much said after one show, “We saw that play a couple of years ago whilst on holiday and it was awful, we weren’t looking forward to this evening. We saw a totally different production. One of the best things we’ve ever seen”. High praise indeed. It was just great in every way, very funny and it raised the game for everyone involved. At the time I wanted the performances to go on and on.
Why have you chosen to direct ‘Out of Focus’?
It is a new start for the drama group. It was sad having to leave Churchdown after over 60 years but we had no choice. If we had stayed the group would have folded because of unaffordable financial costs.
Moving to Witcombe poses a risk on many levels, the biggest being can we build a new audience? We hope some of our previous audiences will make the move with us but it is critical that we draw in new people from Witcombe and the surrounding areas. To that end, we needed to choose a play that we are confident we can stage, that we know is popular with audiences and we felt a comedy is more likely to attract new people.
In 2008 we staged Out of Focus in Churchdown and it was very well received. Peter Gordon, the author, knows how to get a good laugh, the play has pace (if we get it right) and its bright and uplifting. Just the thing for a dark, chilly January evening.
Is there anything you would love to direct, given the opportunity?
Nothing springs immediately to mind as an unfulfilled ambition. As I’ve mentioned above, I would love to have another go at Present Laughter. It was so good, my fear would be not achieving the same heights again.
Do you prefer to act or direct?
It depends entirely on the play. I get as much pleasure and satisfaction from directing as acting. There’s something about finding a play, getting a cast and bringing the whole thing to the stage.
At the same time, acting is great, it just depends on the part. Recently playing Sherlock Holmes again was wonderful, I loved being in Blithe Spirit, Cider With Rosie, Darling Buds of May, Home is Where Your Clothes Are, Allo, Allo and many others. Sorry to mention it again but – Present Laughter gave me the chance to direct and act. Maybe that’s the answer, do both.