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1960+

“Electra” by Sophocles

Electra award pesentation
Electra award presentation

from left: Jean Porter – Lyn Oxenford [Adjudicator] – Jane Chinchen – Dale Wood – Monica Joyce – Peter Joyce – Rosemary Pigott – Colin Lydon – Mrs Katie Underhay [Eastbourne Mayor] – George Porter – Bob Del Quiaro – Terry Mase – Sue Porter – Janice Hopper – Judith Greenfield – Isabel Pilcher – Coral Guildford – Vincent Joyce

1966

Four performances over five weeks brought Wick Theatre Company’s under-21 section from area heats of the County Youth Drama Festival to the final – via Horsham – and the championship trophy.

Here’s how the local press reported the unfolding story:

February 11 – Shoreham Herald – page 12 – “ANCIENT TRADEGY”

“NOW in rehearsal by the Wick Theatre Company’s under-21 section is a production of “Electra”, the ancient tragedy by Sophocles.

The production is the company’s entry in this year’s Sussex Youth Drama Festival and it will be performed in the festival’s Adur Area section at King’s Manor School, Shoreham, on March 18.

Playing the title rôle in “Electra” will be Judith Greenfield, a King’s Manor pupil who lives in Southwick.  Her brother Orestes, mother Clytaemnestra and sister Chrysothemis will be played by Vincent Joyce, Dale Wood and Susanna Porter respectively.

Also taking part will be Colin Lydon, as Aegistus, the murderer of Electra’s father Agamemnon, Peter Joyce as Orestes’s tutor and Tony Sellwood as his companion.

The chorus of women of Mycenae will be Isobel Pilcher, Coral Guildford, Rosemary Pigott, Rosalind Boycott, Maureen Payne, Jane Chinchen, Janice Hopper and Janice Clay.

Jointly directing are George Porter, one of the company’s most successful directors, and Robert del Quiaro.

March 18 – Shoreham Herald – page 11

“Bad run of luck for ‘Electra'”

THE Wick Theatre Company’s contribution to the Sussex Youth Drama Festival this year goes on stage for the first time this [Friday] evening at King’s Manor School hall.  The company’s under-21 section is presenting a shortened version of “Electra”, the tragedy by Sophocles, in English translation.

There have been a number of cast changes during the rehearsal of “Electra” due to a bad run of luck with people becoming unavailable or falling ill.  Only two of the major, non-chorus characters are still in the parts for which they were originally cast.

The title rôle will now be played by Susanna Porter of Shoreham, the daughter of Mr George Porter, one of the co-directors, and a pupil of Our Lady of Sion Convent, Worthing.  She is aged 17 and has already appeared in senior productions for the company.

Electra’s mother, Clytaemnestra, will be played by Dale Wood of Hove and her brother Orestes by Vincent Joyce of Southwick.  These are the two who have retained their parts from the beginning.

The rôle of Electra’s vacillating sister Chrystothemis will be taken by Isabel Pilcher of Southwick, who scored a success last year as Pamela Harrington in the company’s senior production of Five Finger Exercise by Peter Schaffer.  Oreste’s tutor and King Aegisthus will be played, at short notice, by Tony Sellwood and John Flower, both of Southwick.

The chorus of the women of Mycenae is made up of Coral Guildford, Ann Pursey, Janice Hopper, Judith Greenfield, Jane Chinchen and Rosemary Pigott.”

March 18

Friday – King’s Manor School, Shoreham – Adur Area contest of West Sussex Youth Drama Festival

March 25 – Shoreham Herald – page 13

1966 March 25 – Shoreham Herald

from left: Judith Greenfield – Sue Porter – Janice Hopper – Tony Sellwood – Rosemary Pigott – Vincent Joyce – Coral Guildford – Jane Chinchen

“DRAMA JUDGE PRAISES WICK PLAY”

“A SHORTENED version of “Electra”, performed on Friday by the under 21 section of the Wick Theatre Company, Southwick, looked beautiful and the costumes were excellent.  But it ran past the permitted time, and production tended to be cramped and flat.

These were comments by Mr F. Whitbourn, of the West Sussex Youth Drama Advisory Committee, who adjudicated on the play – and two others – in the Adur area contest of the Sussex Youth Drama Festival at King’s Manor School, Shoreham.  Mr Whitbourn, who was introduced by Mr. A. G. W. Penney, J.P., did not announce placings.  They will be revealed by letter.

He said that Electra, played by Susanna Porter, “looked much too beautiful” and was not sufficiently murderous or agonised.  Her acting wanted more intensity.  There were some very good performances, however.”

March 25

Friday – The Capitol Theatre, Horsham – Horsham & District Drama Festival

April 1 – Shoreham Herald – page 20

“WICK GROUP WIN DRAMA FESTIVAL YOUTH TROPHY”

“THE Wick Theatre Company’s under-21 section with is production of “Electra” by Sophocles, won the Horsham Drama Festival youth trophy at the Capitol Theatre, Horsham on Friday.

The festival adjudicator, Miss Iris Ballard praised “this excellent young team who were justified in aiming so high, choosing such a great play.”

Mr Donald Hewett the television producer and actor who lives near Horsham, presented the silver trophy which he had given to the festival, to be competed for this year for the first time to encourage youth drama in Sussex.

In her adjudication of the production, Miss Ballard said that the company had chosen a demanding and difficult play.  “It was astonishing that this group was entering for the youth trophy, such quality did they reach,” she said.  The set was very effective.  Costumes were fine, up to a point.  The clothes of the principals were excellent, but Electra was made rather lighter and slightly more trivial than she might have been.  Her condition was slavery, and a homespun dress and dull drape would have been more apt.

“The make-up was very interesting,” continued the adjudicator, indicating the masks of the Greek theatre by the heavy make-up of eyelids.  The movement and grouping of the chorus was out of the rut but the choral speaking was not quite spot on.  It might have been better to have less stylised.”

April 2

Saturday – Lancastrian School for Girls, Chichester – West Sussex County Council – Education Committee – West Sussex Youth Drama Festival

April 8 – Shoreham Herald – page 1

“WICK GROUP THROUGH TO COUNTY FINAL”

“REPRESENTING West Sussex at the Sussex Youth Drama Festival final on April 23 in the Pier Theatre, Eastbourne will be the Wick Theatre Company’s production of “Electra”, by Sophocles.

It was chosen from six finalists in the West Sussex Festival final at the Lancastrian School for Girls, Chichester, on Saturday.  Twenty-three West Sussex productions had been entered for the festival.

At Eastbourne, the Wick will be matched against the winner from each of the Worthing, Brighton, East Sussex, Hastings and Eastbourne festivals, competing for the Dorothy Stringer Trophy which goes to the winner at the Pier Theatre.

The adjudicator, Mr Antony Stimson, staff tutor for the British Drama League, said that he was delighted to see so much enthusiasm for youth drama in Sussex.

He paid tribute to the producers [George Porter and Robert del Quiaro].  The producer was more essential to youth work than to adult productions and had to teach as well as direct a play.

Mr Stimpson said, “I felt this group had put its heart and soul into this and worked very hard.  Enormous attention had been paid to coaching them.”

Summing up, he said, “Tragedy, above all, requires a sure touch, confidence and authority, creating credible characters, achieving and maintaining a tense atmosphere.  This group surrendered themselves to this play, let it take over.  It was a moving and emotional experience to see and hear it.  I wish those young people who think acting is sissy could have seen it.  And I wish that some of the older people who decry modern youth could have seen it too. ”

April 23

Saturday – Winter Garden, Eastbourne – Eastbourne Education Committee – Fourteenth Annual Sussex Youth Drama Festival

April 25 – Evening Argus – page 3

“Electra was a winner”

“THE Wick Theatre Company representing the West Sussex County Council Education Committee, were 1966 champions of the Sussex Youth Drama Festival at Eastbourne on Saturday.

The company presented the difficult “Electra” by Sophocles.  Adjudicator Miss Lyn Oxenford praised the company for their costumes and make-up.  The cast captured the true drama of the play, and kept the audience intent on the plot.  It was the company’s second success at the festival, which has been held annually for 14 years. ”

1966 April 25 Brighton Evening Argus

April 29 – Shoreham Herald – page 15

“Premier award for Southwick play”

“THE premier award in Sussex for youth drama was won by the Wick Theatre Company’s under-21 section at the final of the Sussex Youth Drama Festival at the Floral Hall in the Eastbourne Winter Garden on Saturday.  The company’s production of “Electra”, by Sophocles, won the Dorothy Stringer trophy and was said by the adjudicator, Miss Lyn Oxenford, professor and examiner at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, to have been played “fully and successfully for all the heights and depths of tragedy which this play demands.”

In her adjudication, Miss Oxenford said that “Electra” opened with appropriate music and the curtain revealed a beautiful picture with the chorus of women [Jane Chinchen, Judith Greenfield, Coral Guildford, Janice Hopper, Monica Joyce and Rosemary Piggott] posed against the simple set.  The costumes were excellent and the stylised mask suggesting eye make-up was a good idea.

The production had “a tremendous amount of dramatic surprise which is not always achieved with Greek tragedy.  The producer understood the use of pause.  The dramatic impetus was sustained very well,” she said.

“The chorus spoke very clearly, with great flexibility of voice, and really told us what was happening.  They did not slide into a dirge effect or ghastly poetry voices.  Their unselfish work was extremely well done.”

“Electra [Susanna Porter] had depth in playing the character which, in all Greek drama, is probably most unsympathetic to the English mind – the English sense of fair play.  This was a performance of great tragic depth, which was not merely moving, but strong and true. ” she said.

The Mayor of Eastbourne, Coun. Mrs K. J. Underhay, J.P., presented the trophy to Mr Robert del Quiaro, one of the co-producers of Electra.  The other co-producer was Mr George Porter, who also produced the 1962 winning production.

The back-stage staff for the production was: make-up, Jean Porter, Patrick Johnson, Nikki Le Roy and Barrie Bowen: stage manager, Ian Leavey; costumes, Bess Blagden and Morfydd Bowen; prompter, Angela Bolton; hair-styles, Miranda Sweet.”

1966 April 23 Shoreham Herald
1966 April 29 Shoreham Herald