As was recorded in this corner last week, Bromsgrove group All and Sundry will be at Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre in September with J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls – and that has made Hall Green Little Theatre’s Julia Roden, in her own words, “very cross.”
This is because Julia has repeatedly tried to obtain permission from rightsholders Samuel French, Ltd, acting on behalf of the Priestley estate, for 13 years. And she was not too pleased when I then told her that New Kinver Players will be presenting this same elusive piece in February.
She said, “I have been trying to get permission for this for years, ever since Stephen Daldry’s idiosyncratic production started touring in about 1995 – incidentally with one of our former members, Marjory Yates, playing the mother – and been consistently turned down. Last year I was informed by Samuel French Ltd. that it was being allowed in ‘the North’ but not anywhere else.
“I spoke to Samuel French this morning, but they can only say I have to give them a specific date and presumably all the previous dates I asked for were when they expected to be performing in a venue nearby.
“Royalties are about £70 a night for us, before we start paying for scripts and other things. I suppose we should be flattered that the Priestley Estate administrators don’t think a Bromsgrove company called All and Sundry playing at a Birmingham theatre called The Crescent is going to be as widely seen as we are at Hall Green Little Theatre, but it’s very frustrating.
“I decided this year that the Priestley estate could bloomin’ well do without our money and blow them, and I will never ever again ask to do a Priestley play. Of course playwrights and translators need to have a living, but we are giving them the chance of another 70 quid a night, which is £560 for a main auditorium production here, and they’re turning it down.
“But good luck to All and Sundry. I won’t mention the play they’re doing again: I don’t think the JBP estate deserves the publicity.”
Don’t tell Julia, but Paul Vollans, founder and chairman of All and Sundry, reports that he had no trouble at all in obtaining a licence.
* Patrons of the Barlow Theatre, Langley, home of Oldbury Repertory Players, are going to have a preview of an Edinburgh Fringe Festival production.
Satisfaction has been written by ORP member Sue Downing and it is giving her husband Stephen – also a member of ORP and, like her, of Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre – his professional directing début after acting in the professional tour of Lost Content and appearing at Bromsgrove earlier this month in 3-1-6, Sex, Lies and Retribution.
It is being foreshadowed rather saucily by a plot summary that asks, “Does a chance meeting in an adult shop mean that Sandra’s bitten off more than she can chew? Forced to look elsewhere for gratification when her marriage starts to droop, Sandra realises that she’s not the only one in search of fulfilment.”
The production is by a new group formed by old friends from the Black Country, members of Worcester’s Swan Playwrights. They discovered that they shared an ambition to do something at the Fringe, decided to call themselves Death by Waxing and now have a seven-night appointment at Venue 29, The Vault, in Edinburgh, from August 19-25.
The play is a 50-minute three-hander for an all-woman cast, of whom Sue is one. She is joined by Louise Henwood and Elizabeth Norton. Louise, who has recently completed a tour of The Song Inside, also sings with a 40-strong acapella choir, Voices In Harmony, in Shropshire.
Elizabeth was in the recent Midlands tour of Debbie Isett’s The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, alongside Paul Henry. Between times, she swaps the stage for the classroom, teaching English as a foreign language – unless, that is, she is busy being a martial artist or a drummer.
But why Death By Waxing? Sue explains: “I looked around for a long time for a name that wasn’t already in use and thought that the idea of waxing was something that most women did to some area of their bodies during their lifetime.
“The idea that we should go through such agony just to look and feel good to the opposite sex was at the core of some of the feminist issues raised in the play.”
The Barlow Theatre preview of Satisfaction will be at 8 pm on Thursday, August 14.
* Worcester’s Swan Theatre is about to launch acting and musical drama workshops for children and young people.
Five days of one-hour acting workshops for five-to-nine-year-olds will be held in the morning for five days from Monday, August 11, and there will be two-hour sessions for nine-to-12-year-olds during the same period.
A three-hour session in musical drama, directed at the 11-15 age group, will run for five afternoons in the same week.
The fees, covering five sessions, are £25 (five-nine-year olds); £30 (nine-12) and £55 (11-15).