In approved theatrical fashion, Leslie Jukes's friends were telling him to break a leg as he approached the first night of See How They Run at Hall Green Little Theatre on Friday.

This is to report that he did his best - but missed. He broke an arm instead - the result of putting a little too much realism into a tumble on stage, in his role as a bemused vicar being chased around his vicarage in this wonderful Philip King farce.

The audience laughed its appreciative socks off, unaware of the pain he was in, and he finished the show before being taken to hospital to be strapped up.

He insisted that his part in the show must continue on Saturday, and received a special ovation at the curtain call, when director Mel Hulme revealed what had happened the night before.

I have often given praise for the dedication of amateur thespians who manage to overcome unexpected tribulations. Leslie deserves his place in the roll of honour.

The chance to see how they're running continues until Saturday.

- Full marks to Highbury Little Theatre for its plans to encourage new plays written by its own members.

The Sutton Coldfield venue hopes to stage workshops for new writing with the object of enabling actors to experience new writing and to help the tyro writers with the dialogue and structure of their creations.

Scripts will not be vetted before inclusion. Whatever comments they prompt will emerge during the workshops, then the more successful offerings will be considered by the theatre's arts committee with a view to the possibility of having a staged reading in front of an audience.

Because the availability of potential writers is an unknown quantity, the first workshop has not yet been scheduled. Members have been warned that it may take some time to get this far - but it is a commendable ambition.

- It was on December 21, 1953, that the first Handsworth Gang Show took to the stage at the former Aston Hippodrome, with a company of 90 boys and men.

Fifty-five years later, what has become an annual production - with Guides now firmly part of the action - is about to hit Birmingham's £4 million Crescent Theatre for the third time, after a spell at the Old Rep from 1997 to 2003 which had followed 29 years at the previous Crescent and three years at the Midland Institute.

In 1995, the size of the company outgrew the dressing rooms available at the old Crescent, so portable buildings were sited on the theatre's car park to take the strain.

The Gang Show tradition started in London and although the London Gang Show has not been staged since 1975, the provincial shows have continued to flourish.

Peter Sellers, Dick Emery, Harry Worth and Jim Davidson are among the well-known names whose careers were launched in Gang Shows

The latest Handsworth version will be at the Crescent from February 11-16.

- Sadly, I report the death of the man who came close to being the Pooh Bah of Sutton Arts Theatre.

Chris Barnes, a member for more than 40 years and a happy and welcoming figure behind the bar, finally succumbed to cancer after a two-year battle - a huge loss, as another member of the group put it.

As well as being the licensee, bar manager and functions manager, he was a member of theatre committees and managed the "outside" lettings and worked tirelessly backstage and front-of-house to look after maintenance. He was always prominent in fund-raising and in supporting SAT's many activities.

Chris, who became a vice-president 20 years ago, was the husband of the indomitable Davina Barnes, who has directed many outstanding productions at the intimate venue and may well continue to hold the tiller for Noel Coward's Private Lives in the summer. Their son was the outstandingly talented Nick, who died in December, 1999 - the first member of a remarkable theatre family to take his final bow.

- The Phoenix Players, of Stratford-upon-Avon, will join forces with the Stratford Lions next month with a one-night performance of Robin Hood.

It's going to be a rather special show - subsidised for people with learning difficulties and emotional needs. It will be at the Civic Hall, Rother Street, on Wednesday, February 13.

- The Lapworth Players' newsletter usually contains off-the-wall follow-ups to the group's shows. The latest one offers some unexpected sidelights on its Pinocchio production.

Apparently, Pinocchio (Becca Tellentire) was spotted on the canal bank, practising her puppet walk, and the wardrobe lady was observed in the dark car park with her arms around the fire-eater's waist. She said she was measuring him for his cummerbund.

Group member Joyce Powderhill was seen ironing with one hand and operating the computer with the other, printing programmes.

And another member, observing the chorus at the dress rehearsal, remarked, "We'll have to take a DNA sample to see if they're still alive."


See How They Run, Hall Green Little Theatre (to Saturday).

Henry V, Lichfield Players, Lichfield Garrick (to Saturday).

Moon Over Buffalo, Grange Players, Grange Playhouse, Walsall (Jan 31-Feb 9).

Henry V, Lichfield Players, Lichfield Garrick (to Saturday).

Blue Remembered Hills, Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (to Feb 9).

Moon Over Buffalo, Grange Players, Grange Playhouse, Walsall (Jan 31-Feb 9).

Dancing with Death, Watch This, Guild of Students, University of Birmingham (Jan 31-Feb 2).

The Misshapen, the Moonstruck and the Damned & In the Cellar, New Mercury Theatre, Lamp Tavern, 157 Barford Street, Birmingham (Feb 4-9)

Love Begins at 50, Highbury Little Theatre, Sutton Coldfield (Feb 5-16). Aladdin, Vesey Players, Bishop Vesey Grammar School, Sutton Coldfield (Feb 6-9).

Frozen, Oldbury Repertory Players, Barlow Theatre, Langley (Feb 6-9). Ghost Writer, Sutton Arts Theatre (Feb 7-16).