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Correspondent: Elaine Hammond
Email Published: 09:01 Wednesday 27 June 2018
A fascinating exhibition of Wick Theatre Company’s history has been put together to celebrate its 70th anniversary.
Peter Joyce, custodian of the archive, successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Southwick company received £8,800 to mount the exhibition.
The end result, which opens at Manor Cottage Heritage Centre on Saturday and runs throughout July, includes costumes, props and sound clips giving personal memories.
Curator Amanda Evans said: “It is going to be unlike any other exhibition in Southwick. It is ground-breaking for Manor Cottage and I hope it will bring more people in, as we have tried to include a broader view of Southwick Community Centre and the Barn Theatre.”
Amanda’s parents, Ralph Dawes and the late Betty Dawes, were founder members of the company, which started life as Unity Players. She said: “When Mum passed away, we discovered she had a huge archive of papers, committee minutes, photographs and all sorts. “It took us a long time to go through everything.
Although Wick had its own archive, finding Mum’s archive of information was what prompted the idea to pull everything together and put together an exhibition.
“We have also tried to include a history of the community centre and the Barn Theatre because they were instrumental in Wick having a home. They have grown up together.”
Amanda had help from her father and long-standing Wick members Sue Whittaker and Margaret Davy in sorting the vast amount of material Betty had kept.
Peter, who has been a member since 1964 and run the website since 2002, said everything from both archives was collated and organised in date order. “Part of the project was to celebrate something in each decade,” he explained.
Wick’s workshop team has built audio stands so visitors will be able to listen to recordings of members’ memories through headphones.
There will also be a television room, where people will be able to sit on the original theatre chairs to watch screenings.
The exhibition opens on the last night of Wick’s current production, The Tempest. It is open on Saturdays only, from June 30 to July 28, 10.30am to 12.30pm, but there is extended opening until 4pm for the first day. Admission is free.
Correspondent: Elaine Hammond
Email Published: 15:36 Updated: 15:48 Friday 13 July 2018
Thespians and their audiences have been lapping up the opportunity to look back at Wick Theatre Company’s history. Celebrating its 70th anniversary, the Southwick company has put together an exciting heritage exhibition offering a well-presented feast of information for theatre lovers, as well as anyone interested in the history of the town.
Setting the scene is the very earliest history of the company, illustrated with papers, programmes and cuttings collected by the late Betty Dawes, founder member and president for many years.
Rosemary Bouchy, from the publicity team, said: “Among other items of interest there’s a very basic programme which was also used instead of a ticket, thus avoiding a tax on ticket sales. Rather different to the sophisticated colour versions we use today.
“A display of unusual props includes a large pair of automated false teeth that chattered away inside a pair of underpants for a scene in Are You Being Served in 2006 and an absolutely splendid wooden leg, made for Accidental Death of an Anarchist in 2016.”
There is an impressive gallery of black and white portraits showcasing the founders and other early members. Informative boards illustrate the highlights of each decade, including the formation and subsequent improvement of Southwick Community Centre and The Barn Theatre, where Wick is one of three resident companies.
An £8,800 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund enabled curator Amanda Evans and Peter Joyce, custodian of the archive, to include a television room and audio stands, where visitors can listen to members’ memories.
The exhibition, Bringing Theatre to Southwick for 70 years can be visited at Manor Cottage Heritage Centre, Southwick Street, Southwick, on Saturdays, July 14, 21 and 28, 10.30am to 12.30pm. Entry is free.