Today we’re bringing you the second part of our series ‘Meet the Team’ where we’re getting to know all those people whose job it is to bring you hj1act each year. [You can read part one HERE]. The team are members of The Swindon and District Theatre Guild [SDTG], a registered charity which hosts the Harold Jolliffe One-Act Play Festival. Find out more about the Guild HERE
Dick Clark has been the SDTG secretary for seven years, hj1act’s Stage Manager for ten years, and has been involved in the theatre for forty-five years! His wealth of experience and expertise plays a huge part in the highly professional and super smooth running of our festival.
Dick first trod the boards in the 1960s when he was at school but his interest soon became focussed on backstage work. ‘Having appeared on stage early on I realised that set design, staging and directing were more my thing’ says Dick. During that time Dick was with a hospital theatre company in Plymouth where he met his late wife Rose.
In 1972 Dick joined the Clarendon Players in Royal Wootton Bassett where he stage managed along with stints helping out other local groups backstage and with prop making. It was with the Clarendon Players that Dick had his first taste of hj1act when he was a crew member of their 1974 entering team.
Around this time, in the mid 70s, Dick got involved with the Swindon and District Theatre Guild where he took on the role of Assistant Stage Manager, a position he held for a number of years.
By the mid 90s Dick was attending SDTG committee meetings and by the late 90s he had become a committee member going on to become hj1act’s ASM in 2002.
He took over as SM for the festival in 2005 and became SDTG committee secretary in 2008 both roles which he holds to this day. Dick is also involved with the committee of the Mercia Division of All England Theatre Festival [AETF].
‘I’m a fan of theatre in general’, says Dick, ‘ and so I really like being able to help make theatre happen. Although I don’t act anymore I still direct and if groups need my expertise with anything I’ll always help out making props or scenery’.
As hj1act Stage Manager, Dick’s job is to provide practical and organizational support to the directors, actors, stage crew and technicians throughout the entire hj1act festival process. Once the festival itself gets underway he controls all aspects of the performances and acts as communications hub for the actors, backstage crew and technical operatives in the light and sound box. And, as hj1act is a competitive festival and operates under AETF rules, Dick is also responsible for the backstage stop watch! This is used to time each team’s setting and striking of their set as well as the performance itself. ‘I like that I know what I’m doing, therefore the teams have confidence in me and hj1act. I get positive feedback from teams which is very rewarding’ he says. ‘One of the joys of being at the side, you do get a feel for how it’s going, really close up’.
Over the many years of his involvement in hj1act Dick has a store of incredible memories. But there is one performance in particular that has stayed with Dick: ‘I remember watching a two-hander, the name escapes me but it was about a former policeman’s decline through Alzheimers. The performances were something else and have stuck with me to this day. It didn’t win but it really moved me. It was an amazing performance’.
Another very satisfying memory for Dick came when the British Final was held here in Swindon’s Wyvern theatre. ‘We, as the Guild, took the British Final to a new level. We were very happy with our organisation of that great event.’ he says.
Dick is keen to help develop local drama and ensure the long term future of drama festivals. ‘Promoting theatre is a plus’ says Dick, ‘and I’m just happy to be part of making that happen’.
‘As for the organisation side of things, I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that hj1act is now a respected event, both locally and nationally. The competing teams tell us they enjoy performing, and appreciate our efforts in organisation, plus the adjudicators tell us that they love coming to Swindon!’
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves Dick! Huge thanks for dropping by, for sharing your thoughts and great memories of hj1act.
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COUNTDOWN: 8 days until our entry cut-off date, 1st February.
NEXT UP: hj1act winning plays published!
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