The All England Theatre Festival Western Area Semi-Finals were held at The Merlin Theatre in Frome, Somerset last Saturday, 7th May. hj1act graduates took up 50% of the running order; our 2016 champions Quirky Bird Theatre with ‘Tusk, Tusk’ by Polly Stenham and Lechlade Players who had won through as the highest scoring runners-up with ‘The Proposal’ by Anton Chekhov. Read more about their amazing winning journeys HERE, HERE and HERE.
Also competing were Colyton Theatre Group (Western Winners) with ‘The Ladybirds’ by Tony Layton and St. Alban’s Players (Wessex Winners) with ‘Interior Designs’ by Jimmie Chinn. All the teams had won through at least two previous rounds and so the standards were high and the competition very stiff!
Adjudicator Jan Palmer Sayer from GoDA gave praise for such an excellent day of theatre, hailing all four teams as ‘the best in the West’.
But there could only be one winner and St Alban’s Players were victorious with their excellent performance of ‘Interior Designs’. They won The Broughton Chatwin Memorial Trophy as overall winners and will progress to the English Finals in June.
Quirky Bird Theatre certainly impressed with another storming performance of ‘Tusk, Tusk’ and were worthy winners of The Stanley and Madge Williams Shield. This is a stunning trophy which is given out at the adjudicator’s discretion. Jan Palmer Sayer noted that each of the plays had qualities that made them stand out with lovely moments and great drama. ‘But Quirky Bird Theatre’s performance pipped it for me’ said Jan as she awarded director Anna Friend this impressive silver shield. She added further praise saying they had done a magnificent job with a very convincing cast. ‘They all had excellent interplay with beautiful tumbling of dialogue’, said Jan, praising the natural delivery which made it very real. ‘These are tremendous actors’ she added. ‘They gave terrific performances and captured the danger of this very tough, challenging play.’
Lechlade Players also earned high praise for another wonderful performance of ‘The Proposal’. In her adjudication Jan Palmer Sayer noted that all three actors had fine voices that cracked the pace right from the start. ‘There were some really nice moments in this lively performance’ said Jan, ‘they certainly understand how to get the comedy out’.
Congratulations to all the teams for a wonderful day of theatre and good luck to St Alban’s Players at the English Finals!
What’s next for Quirky Bird?
Although neither of our hj1act winners went through last Saturday, you still have the chance to see some incredible theatre from these amazing teams.
By popular demand, Quirky Bird Theatre have announced they will be performing the full version (both acts) of ‘Tusk, Tusk’ at Swindon’s Arts Centre on Thursday 30th June. If you saw them at hj1act you’ll know they performed Act I as their festival entry. But with so many audience members saying they were desperate to know how things turned out in the rest of the play, director Anna Friend has decided to stage this last, one-off, special performance. So if you missed them at the festival, are keen to know more or just want to enjoy seeing this fantastic play one last time, now’s your chance!
Lechlade Players’ plans
Following the terrible fire at Lechlade Players home performance venue, the Lechlade Memorial Hall early this morning (Monday 9th May), the LPs have had to re-adjust their plans a little, as you can imagine. The fire not only destroyed the entire building but the LPs lost all their equipment, props and costumes too.
Not to be downhearted, the group have rallied from this awful setback and are already looking to the future. This Thursday sees the group meet for readings and to discuss plans for their autumn and spring productions. In the meantime, some of the LPs actors will be in action over the summer as they perform with other groups. One of these is The Cotswold Arcadians who stage large-scale open air Shakespearean theatre productions each summer. You can go along to see them perform ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at Hatherop Castle from 18th – 23rd July. For details click HERE
All of us here at hjHQ send our very best wishes to the Lechlade Players and hope they are able to find an alternative performance space very soon. If anyone is interested in going along to take part in the LPs productions or have any help they can offer following the fire, please contact their Chairperson Jenny Thompson on (01367) 252040
As we bid a fond farewell to our 2016 festival journey, all that remains to be said is a huge THANK YOU to all our wonderful entrants, our amazing audiences and the hjHQ team for all their hard work. And a massive CONGRATULATIONS to Quirky Bird Theatre and Lechlade Players for your great success. You’ve done us proud!
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