To see what we have been up to during lockdown please look at our 'Future Events' page
Under a gentle Autumn sky, with a backdrop of sparkling Pyreneean peaks and in warm sunlight dappled by an avenue of plane trees, eight ETC players performed two of Alan Ayckbourn’s five interlinked works collectively entitled “Confusions”. This continues our successful format of rehearsed readings outdoors, for a pic-nicking public and makes for a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, with the players just a few metres from their appreciative audience. Written in 1974 by this prolific and much loved dramatist, each piece is the usual masterful combination of subtle comedy and social commentary.
The first, “Mother Figure”, gave us Lucy (Maggie Crane), a fraught and exhausted mother whose ability to hold an adult conversation has disintegrated under the stress of motherhood and who treats everyone in the same childlike and condescending way. Both Rosemary (Gill Foster), a concerned neighbour, and her chauvinistic and controlling husband Terry (Maurice Shorter), are reduced to a state of infancy by Lucy’s mothering and puerile conversation.
The second playlet “Between Mouthfuls” sees a hilariously hapless waiter (Ian Warwick) inadvertently entwined into the conversations of two couples in his restaurant. The couples’ marriages are both disintegrating, because the wife in one (Nancy Robotham) has had a brief affair with the pompous and disagreeable husband in the other (Phil Faiers) – who also happens to be her husband’s boss! While the cuckolded husband (Bill Kimber) fears only for his job and not a jot for the desperation that drove his wife to be unfaithful to him, the cheated wife of the boss (Jacqueline Rochelle-Cawte) haughtily and disdainfully declines to eat a succession of courses placed before her, puffing on her cigarette throughout and vowing loudly to kill the mistress when she finds out who it is. The denouement finds the boss offering to buy his grateful underling a brandy in the bar while the wives are destined, off stage, to come face to face in the toilets.
Two typically amusing satires artfully directed by Annie Dawes.
Blog post by Anne Dickens
Well we did it!
After various Covideo conference calls and despite living in Pandemia the ETC managed to put on Neil Simon’s elegant comedy, “Rumors”. We chose his American version, hence the spelling. We staged both performances at the delightful outdoor setting at Sembouès Salle des Fêtes. Happily the weather was on our side even though there was an orange alert for thunderstorms for the second performance.
Our aim was to keep our theatre group active during coronavirus restrictions and to let our 500 or so ‘Friends’ know that we are able to stage socially distanced outdoor events.
At Sembouès our audiences sat in the shade of two giant sycamores with a picnic while the cast performed a rehearsed reading of “Rumors”. There were many highlights not the least of which was when a dog wandered to the front of the stage area, squatted, and left a puddle. The audience loved it and the cast struggled to suppress laughter.
We are planning more outdoor play readings, hopefully without canine interruptions, so keep an eye on our website.
Having decided to stage the ever popular 'Allo 'Allo in May, we held auditions and selected our cast. Our co-directors sent us away to learn our lines before rehearsals began. Those rehearsals started last week.
However, after just two rehearsals — which were hilarious — the Coronavirus crisis forced us to postpone the production until further notice. We are determined to stage this classic non-PC comedy as soon as we are permitted to.
In the meantime it is not Au Revoir, Au Revoir, more like À Bientöt, À Bientöt !
The fun and the hard work are now over. Mad Moments has been performed and the players are now ‘resting’ until they are next required to go on stage. Also having a well deserved rest are those often unsung heroes who make performances possible: stage management, prop makers, technical team, publicity providers, ticket sellers, front of house folk and bar staff. Our director, David Alcock, once said that everyone in a production was of equal importance and I am sorry if I have not included every category in my listing.
Mad Moments was performed at Marciac, Letoure, Sainte Dode and Boudrac. The latter is a new venue for the English Theatre Company and has splendid facilities even if the stairs do creak! Our audiences were good and their applause and appreciative comments made all the time spent rehearsing and learning words and moves worthwhile. Everyone played their part well in spite of coughs, sneezes and various aches and pains. No-one actually ‘broke a leg’ and there were no casualties - apart from a broom!
Now it is nearly Christmas and everyone is preparing for that but also looking forward to the next production. What will it be? No-one knows as yet but I am sure it will be greeted with the same enthusiasm and dedication as the last one.
Sadly, Dave Barney, a founder member of the Company and a kind and generous sharer of his theatrical expertise will not be taking part in the next production. Paula Latuske will not be there either to capably carry out the administration work involved in running the Company and putting on its shows. They have both returned to England for a life of, we hope not too adventurous, travelling and seeing the world.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with many happy ‘Mad Moments’.
Gill Foster (Guest blogger)
Depressing isn’t it? The everyday news that never seems to get any better. But help is at hand. The English Theatre Company offer you a solution. We prescribe a dose of our comic relief. We aim to banish the blues, make you smile and even laugh out loud.
How about some geriatric dancing – yes, really! Our tribute to the unique humour of Victoria Wood; a criminal cat; songs to pull at your heartstrings and the introduction of a very special young lady who is joining us for the first time. And of course, much much more.
Yesterday we were in rehearsal bringing all the acts together. Some of us wearing our costumes for the first time and a motley crew we were. Flair and imagination gone overboard! As the dates of our November performances approach with lightening speed our rehearsal schedule increases until suddenly it’s opening night. The overture is about to start …
Our box office is taking bookings for all four of our venues. Boudrac on 9th November at 12.00 noon; Marciac on 10th at 3.00 pm; Lectoure on 16th at 3.00 pm and Ste Dode on 17th at 12.00 noon.
If you would like to spend an afternoon with us, please book as soon as you can by phone: 05 62 06 37 14 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, what depression? Do join us.
Our revue has singing, dancing, comedy, pathos and, with our final song, fierce pride and emotion. But most of all we are offering laughter and fun! Technical and dress rehearsals start next week for the 18 cast members, ready for the first performance on Saturday 9 November.
Don't forget we are performing Mad Moments in four locations; and we're trying out two new formats as well as our usual theatre lunches to go with the 75 minute show.
At Marciac our start time is 3.00 pm and we are ringing the changes after the show with a delicious selection of home made cakes – as many as you can manage – all washed down with Cava.
At Lectoure, because there is no provision for refreshments in the theatre, our performance begins at 3.00 pm. Plenty of time to enjoy a good lunch before the show.
Theatre with lunch is at our regular home in Sainte-Dode and, further afield than we've travelled before, at the Salle des Fêtes in Boudrac – both are a 12.00 pm start.
The cast and crew look forward to seeing old friends and new. Come and join in the fun!
Nancy Shorter, Co-Director Mad Moments
More than 200 came to see our Comedy Theatre Lunches. We received countless kind comments about this three-part lunchtime entertainment.
Our pre-lunch performances began with a performance of Eating Out, one of Alan Bennett’s recollections of his childhood in Leeds. Played by Dave Barney, it was both funny and touching with the wry observation and ironic understatement that earned Bennett a place in the forefront of contemporary writing. Next up was Well, I Never Did, a spoof of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads written by Stephen Fry and Hugh Lawrie and originally performed as a television sketch on A Bit of Fry & Lawrie. Played by Phil Faiers as Bennett’s Auntie Ivy, it drew on an exaggerated perception of the English north-south divide.
Lastly we presented Auditions, an adaptation of an American play that was largely re-written for the ETC. The plot was simple the English Theatre Company were auditioning for the lead roles of Romeo and Juliet. The trouble was the hopeful actors all turned out to be hopeless. Mocking amateur theatre has become a popular genre in professional theatre in recent years with The Play That Goes Wrong and many others. Auditions was our tongue-in-cheek volte-face — amateurs mocking themselves, but hopefully in a professional manner.
We performed at three venues over two weekends and such were the encouraging plaudits that we will undoubtedly stage similar events in the future.
We had a technical and dress rehearsal session today in the village hall at Ste-Dode. Tomorrow we open in Panassac at Austins. We are so looking forward to performing the real thing after four weeks of rehearsals. Despite having seen everything many times over the cast and crew are still laughing out loud at some of the on-stage antics. If you are coming to one of our four performances we hope you will enjoy it. If you do, tell your friends as we will be staging another event in the autumn.
Our cast of 14 are having great fun rehearsing Auditions, the one-act play that forms part of our Comedy Theatre Lunches in February. It is a play adapted from an original work by American author Ian MacWethy and is the story of The English Theatre Company's audition sessions for the lead roles of Romeo and Juliet. Most of the auditions hilariously highlight the unsuitability of the actors for the parts they are auditioning for. Divas, dimwits, prima donnas, method actors, hooligans — they all try for parts, but none succeed. The cast keep having to take laughter breaks in rehearsals, so we know our audiences will be in stitches.