Wick Theatre Company’s exciting Heritage Exhibition, July 2018
“Bringing Theatre to Southwick for 70 years”
WICK NEWS AUGUST 2018 p4 – edited by Rosemary Bouchy
Many months of hard work from the team – Peter Joyce (organiser of the lottery win), Amanda Evans, Ralph Dawes, Margaret Davy and Sue Whittaker – went into the presentation of this most modern and informative exhibition.
Setting the scene was the very earliest history of the company illustrated by papers, programmes and cuttings collected by the late Betty Dawes, founder member and our President for many years. Among other items of interest there was a very basic programme which was also used as a ticket, thus avoiding a tax on ticket sales.
Rather different to the sophisticated colour versions we use today.
There was also an impressive gallery of black and white portraits show-casing the founders and other very early members. Informative boards illustrated the highlights of each decade, including the formation and subsequent improvement of the Community Centre and Barn Theatre so bound up in Wick’s history.
A display of unusual props included a large pair of automated false teeth that chattered away inside a pair of underpants for a scene in Are You Being Served (2006) and an absolutely splendid wooden leg made by workshop member Carl Gray for Accidental Death of an Anarchist (2016). Had there been a suitable section, this would have won an award in a recent Drama Festival.
It is the technology that really told the tale of Wick Theatre Company’s early years, made possible by the lottery grant gained to mount the exhibition.
Each display was accompanied by short recordings of long-standing members reminiscing about their experiences, which brought these to life in a way that no printed word or picture could do.
You could giggle at Ralph Dawes (now Wick’s President) remembering how, in a one of a set of four one-act plays performed at the Red Triangle Club (1950) while playing a character called Father Bruno, he was wearing a beard, had to consume a bun on stage and found himself eating the beard as well!
This was even before the Young Wick Players (forerunner of the present company) became a reality.
Then there was Peter Joyce (now Secretary) painting scenery at the coal wharf on the canal that housed Wick’s earliest workshop, getting the horizontal design upside down.
Televised interviews explained the various aspects of mounting a production from designing a set to providing the costumes. Maggi Pierce, who has been involved with wardrobe for 28 years, remembered how she had visited the huge and daunting RSC collection to help choose costumes, or at other times the premises of a local hire company. But she is now proud of the fact that for the past five years she and Cherry Fraser have been able to provide stunning costumes from Wick’s own wardrobe, helped by borrowing from sister companies, with little or no expenditure.