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April 2014.  With a brilliant script by Michael Pertwee and John Chapman, "Holiday Snap" could hardly fail to be an enormous hit. Despite being hit by serious illness deep into the rehearsal schedule, the Players delivered to their customary high standard, until the guiding hand of director, Keith Pollard, whose experience and theatrical flair combined to extract every drop of humour from the play. A full review of the play, along with pictures, will shortly be found in the archive section of this site.
November 2013.
The Players pull off yet another superb production, "Prescription for Murder", a thriller by Norman Robbins. Audience members who braved attrocious weather conditions to get to the hall were rewarded with a slick performance, ably directed by Roland Garrad, which kept them guessing right to the final few minutes. Bex Prior was splendid in her first leading role, whilst three cast members made their Players debut in fine style.
A full report and picturescan be found in the Archive section.
October 2013. The Player's staged another very popular Murder Mystery evening. The drama featured a selection of new and old faces, and about 80 people enjoyed a great evening's entertainment,  whilst the staff of our friendly mobile Fish & Chips van worked their socks off to provide sustenance for everyone. In the end, several clever clogs' saw through the clues and managed to correctly identify the culprit and his sidekick. We'll clearly have to make it a bit more difficult for them next time.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM of the Fairlight Players on 8th June was well attended as always, possibly due to the promise of free nosh and entertainment. The business part of the meeting was completed in roughly 17 minutes, during which time the chairman gave a very upbeat report, and the treasurer was able to deliver a similarly encouraging financial report.

Three committee members (Pauline Lucas, Ken Hall and Peter Norris) had decided not to stand for re-election, and the chairman thanked them for their contributions over the last year. They were replaced by four new committee members, Libby Annnets, Theresa Hall, Andrew Mier and Barry Prime, who were all voted in unianimously and welcomed to the committee.

Following a short break, some lively entertainment was provided in the form of a Cockney Cavalcade, with a collection of songs, jokes and sketches. The evening was rounded off with lashings of bangers and mash amid jovial banter and conversation.

Happy As A Sandbag

Our Spring 2013 production was something of a departure for the Fairlight Players, and it presented a number of challenges, but none so great as to phase our director and his tightly-knit company.

Happy As A Sandbag tells the story of the Second World War in a series of songs and sketches. Written by Ken Lee in the form of a revue, it rattles along at a furious pace, but contains moments of great pathos along with the humour and some great sing-along songs.

Most of the cast played multiple parts, and the logistics of costume changes (some of them exceedingly quick) in our somewhat cramped changing quarters was masterfully co-ordinated by Monica Hayes with able assistance from Jill Lewing.

Major characters were played by Steve Hill (Churchill), Keith Jellicoe (Chamberlain), Roland Garrad (Monty), and Len MacKenzie (Max Miller). Meanwhile the singing was lead by our very own "Andrews Sisters" (Libby Annetts, Wendy Hatch and Rebecca Prior), with notable solo performances from Jim Saphin, Aisling Tigwell and Tom Miller. In fact, most members of the cast took a solo spot at some point, which is remarkable as few of them reckon themselves to be singers.

Musical direction was in the capable hands of Iain Kerr, making a welcome return after storming onto the Fairlight scene in the Murder of Maria Marten, and the director of the show (he with whom the buck stops) was Keith Pollard.

Many other people made significant contributions, either as cast members or behind the scenes (or both) and proper recognition to these people will be found in the full report within the archive section.

Edy Was A Lady

Ann Rachlin MBE delighted a packed hall with an entertaining and informative talk about Edith Craig, daughter of the legendary actress, Ellen Terry. A talented actress in her own right, Edith was also a director, costume designer and many other things.

Ann's talk was based around material from her new book "Edy Was A Lady", which would make an excellent gift for anyone interested in the theatre, social history, or fencing (yes, I said fencing ... you'll have to read the book for an explanation). The book itself is largely based on Edy's own memoirs, which Ann discovered and rescued from oblivion.

Ann also spoke of some remarkable archive film footage which she has located in the vaults of the British Film Institute. Despite Ann paying for the footage to be transferred to dvd, the copyright remains with the BFI, who appear to have no desire to make it available for distribution to the general public. If I am any judge of character, I suspect that this is not a situation that Ann will permit to go unchallenged.

And This Was Odd

A little piece of history was made in November when the Fairlight Players staged this play for the third time. Generally we seek to avoid repetition, but this script was just so good that we felt that it deserved another airing ... and anyway, very few of the audience will remember watching in 1983 (and even fewer in 1955).

See the full report in the Archive section.

 Murder Mystery 

In response to huge demand, the Fairlight Players staged another superb Murder Mystery ... an evening of intrigue, suspense and corny jokes, accompanied by a splendid meal and much jollity. The cast featured, among others, the long-overdue return to the Fairlight stage of  Lynda Leigh.

The Murder of Maria Marten

The Fairlight Players' first foray (at least in living memory) into the world of Victorian Melodrama was hailed as a huge success. Such was the demand on Saturday evening that extra seats had to be brought in to accommodate the crowds. See the full report in the Archive section.

Dead Ringer

The Fairlight Players’ November production was a slight departure from a recent run of farces. Set in the Prime Minister’s study at Number 10, the plot of “Dead Ringer” revolved around the sudden death of the PM, and the efforts of senior Cabinet officials to keep the matter under wraps until after a crucial election. Although laced liberally with humour throughout, this play was at its heart a murder mystery, and one which kept the audience guessing right up to the explosive denouement.

Full report in archive section.

Afternoon Tea with Sir Donald Sinden

Sir Donald Sinden

The eagerly awaited visit from Sir Donald Sinden on October 9th lived up to expectations in every way. Immediately at ease, Sir Donald spoke for around 90 minutes, drawing on a wealth of recollections, anecdotes, and a few dodgy jokes. Among other things, we learned of his unintentional and somewhat reluctant introduction to the world of theatre, his extensive collection of "theatricalia",  and the problems of negative buoyancy.
After a break for tea,  he took to the stage once again, and spoke for another 45 minutes, taking a number of questions from the audience.
Throughout his visit, Sir Donald proved himself to be a most gracious guest, signing many autographs and posing for pictures, and was far too gracious to mention that it was actually his birthday. However, the significance of the day had not gone unnoticed, and a special birthday cake was produced, which Sir Donald was persuaded to cut.
This visit had, of course, been originally planned for September last year. Unfortunately that event was cancelled at short notice when Sir Donald fell ill. We were delighted, however, to see him in such good form, and everybody agreed that it was well worth the wait.  See archive section for full report.

Caramba's Revenge

Our first Summer production for a number of years was well received by three appreciative audiences.

With a predominantly female cast, Aubrey Sinden had had to use all of his indisputable charm to attract friends from Rye and Icklesham to fill the leading roles (we are a smidgen short on female acting members at present). Gill, Nicky and Clare did so willingly and with considerable flare (not to mention wigs), being joined by Fairlight regulars, Esther and Charlotte, with Myfanwy Attree making a welcome and most charming debut for the Players.

Greg Slaughter was the only male brave enough to share the stage with this daunting line-up.

See the report in the archive section for more.

2011 AGM and 60th Anniversary  Party

The AGM on 11th June 2011 marked the end of an era as Aubrey Sinden stood down as Chair, giving way to Keith Pollard who now takes up the reins. At the age of 86 years, Aubrey probably deserves a rest, although as director of our next production in July, he is certainly not fading away into obscurity.

Not Now Darling

The final production in our 60th anniversary year was a huge success on all fronts. Not only receiving great critical acclaim, it also achieved the highest total number of ticket sales in the history of the group, and provided a very useful boost to our  fragile finances.

Check out the archive section for more pictures and a more comprehensive report.
Sound System Upgrade

I am pleased  to report that the upgrade to the village hall sound system is now complete, thanks to the dedication and skill of Richard Pollard, with a bit of help from one or two others. Cables have been replaced throughout  the building, with special panels being installed to facilitate operation either from the stage or from the control room at the back of the hall. Provision has also been made for the remote operation of special effects.

"Hernbolt", our custom built sound system cabinet, has been completely rebuilt with a new mixer and a selection of outlets to provide multiple operating configurations. Naturally, this fairly complex system needs to be operated by somebody with a fair measure of expertise, and so a second, much simpler, system (Mini-Hernbolt) has been installed for general use. Altogtether, this work means that Fairlight can claim one of the best equipped village halls for miles around.

In addition to this work on the sound system, Richard has installed wiring for a video monitoring system so that performers and back-stage crew will be able to follow the action on stage from the two changing areas ... no more excuses for missed cues then!

The majority of the cost was met jointly by the Fairlight Players and the Fairlight Pantomime Group, with a smaller contribution being made by the Village Hall Committee to cover the cost of the "simple" system.

We are grateful to Richard for the enormous effort that he has put into this project. I asked him to write a brief report, and he produced an encyclopaedia.  If you would like to read the report in full, I suggest that you make a cup of tea first, and then click here

Funny Money

The Fairlight Players' autumn production of Ray Cooney's farce "Funny Money" achieved excellent reviews against all the odds. Rehearsals were beset by problems, not least the loss of our leading lady (due to an unexpected, although not entirely unwelcome, condition) some weeks in. However, Carol Ardley stepped into the role, which she carried off with some applomb, handing over the director's role to Keith Pollard.

Brian Winup took charge of the set-build, while Richard reluctantly obeyed doctor's orders to take a rest (some of the time). The resulting set was much admired ... nice to know that Brian hasn't lost his touch. Meanwhile, Keith Jellicoe (with help from Brian's engineering skills and Carol's delicate pottery) supplied his famous ingenuity in relation to special effects.

For more details, see the full report in our archive section.

Murder Mystery

By all accounts, the victim had it coming to him ... but which one of the suspicious looking cast "dun it"? This was the question posed to guests at our recent Murder Mystery evening, and four teams guessed correctly that it was Andy Godfrey (aka "Brian") making his first appearance with the Fairlight Players. For myself, I am inclined to agree with Roy Lewis, ex-Detective Superintendent, Scotland Yard, who deduced  “... that the deceased was not murdered but, in fact, committed suicide, having been driven to it by Aubrey’s singing!”

The one with the bucket did it!


The entertainment aside, the evening was a triumph for our new Social Committee who, under the guidance of Marion Pollard, served almost 100 hot meals from a fleet of Hostess trolleys, commandeered from faithful suporters all around the village. All in all, an excellent evening's entertainment, and thanks to Amy Shortman for directing the performance.

Copyright - Tim Stubbings - timstubbings.co.ukWorth Waiting For ...

Sadly, the eagerly awaited visit of Sir Donald Sinden will have to be waited for just a little longer. Just days before the planned event on 5th September, we received news that Sir Donald had been taken ill and, on the orders of his doctor, had to withdraw from this commitment. He has, however, assured us of his intention to arrange a new date as soon as he is able.

The majority of ticket holders have elected to retain their tickets pending the announcement of a revised date. Any ticket holders who are unable to make that date will, of course, receive a full refund, and we already have a waiting list of people who are hoping that another's disappointment will be their good luck (in the nicest possible way).

So, watch this space for a further announcement, and in the meantime, we wish Sir Donald a full and speedy recovery.

The 2010 Annual General Meeting

Our AGM was well attended as always, and with Aubrey in the Chair, the essential business was swiftly dealt with so that we could get on with the fun bits. During the meeting, we said "Thank you" to two stalwart members who stepped down after a considerable period of service. Sue Trueman (that's her with the flowers) is replaced as Secretary by Carol Ardley, while Keith Miller takes over the role of Treasurer from Adrian Chambers.

We also said a reluctant "goodbye" to John Charrot, who will shortly be moving away to be closer to his family. Together with his late wife, Margaret, John has been a faithful and active supporter of the Players, and between them they clocked up well over 50 years of service. Nobody present at the meeting could be left in any doubt as to the substantial affection in which both John and Margaret continue to be held by their many friends in Fairlight.

Following the presentations, members provided entertainment in song and spoken word, drawing predominantly on material from the last six decades, the time that the Fairlight Players have been entertaining the people of Fairlight.


Out Of Order - Review

With a general election just days away, the Fairlight Players kicked off their 60th Anniversary season in topical style with Ray Cooney's hilarious farce "Out Of Order.  A ten-strong cast - and it was a strong cast - captured all the furious pace, outrageously inventive lies, improbable liaisons and, especially, the comic business that their Director, Keith Pollard, could bring to the play. Brilliantly set, by Richard Pollard and his crew, with a sash window with a mind of its own, and a cupboard door built to show as well as hide a suspended body, this hotel suite became virtually an eleventh character in the show.

Leading the fun were Junior Minister Richard Willey, in the more than capable hands of Roland Garrad, neatly offset by his well-meaning but incompetent PPS, George Pigden, yet another effective showing from Keith Miller.

And while many amateur groups have good strong leads, few can boast the strength in depth that the Fairlight Players possess. The hotel staff, with Steve Hill as the slightly pompous, and later the trouserless, Manager, plus Aubrey Sinden as the knowing and very mercenary London waiter and Esther De Vries as the no-speaka-da-English maid were as highly hilarious a trio as one could wish for.

Laura Cade was Jane Worthington, an Opposition Secretary and Richard Willey's love interest (he hopes), gifted with one of the funniest exit lines of all time, while her irate husband, Ronnie, gave Tom Miller the chance to be aggressively macho and to pitch us into hysterics with his break-downs, whether he was fully clothed or draped in just a towel. Add to this potent comic mixture Richard Willey's wife, Pamela, played by Carol Ardley, and Nurse Foster, Pigden's mother's carer, played by Rose White on her debut. Both ladies were to see more of George Pigden than they probably expected to, and the cast was completed by another debutant, Graham Baldock as the Body, moving, literally, and touching - in George's case, and as funny as the rest of 'em.

The cast was very well dressed by Monica Hayes, with help from Myfanwy Attree, lit by John Dyer, and given some appropriate sound effects by Keith Jellicoe. As usual, Margaret Hall gave the actors some excellent props with which to work, and Linda Savarese had dressed the set to a nicety.

Surprisingly, the run was not the sell-out it probably deserved to be. The Players will present two more productions in their anniversary year, so watch your local press for preview details. I promise you won't be disappointed!

(Review by Sue Trueman)

Pam Ayres

Fifteen members recently enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining evening at the White Rock Theatre when Pam Ayres came to town. Not surprisingly, her work frequently features during our quarterly poetry evenings, but hearing them from the lips of their creator in her unique (though oft imitated) style is a real treat. An education too, to witness how a thoroughly down-to-earth middle-aged (am I allowed to say that?) lady can hold an audience utterly captivated for around two hours, just by being herself. Smashing!

End of an era

At the Players' management committee meeting on 3rd February, Sue Trueman announced her intention to step down as our Secretary. Having served in this capacity for the last 10 years, and on the committee for 10 years before that, I thought she was just getting the hang of it! With Adrian Chambers also planning to hand over the treasurership at the AGM, it is a time of change for us all.

Fortunately we have many capable and dependable supporters, and I understand that willing candidates for both roles have already been identified from within their ranks. Appointment is, of course, by election, which will take place at our AGM in June. Until then, I will just have to keep you guessing!