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Ralph Dawes

70th Anniversary – Speech

We celebrated our  70th Anniversary with a Dinner Dance, Saturday 17th March 2018.  Our President Ralph Dawes said a few words …..

Friends! We are here tonight to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Wick Theatre Company. (I’m sorry I’m using a script but I could not get a prompt in case I needed one). I said “friends” because over the years there have been so many changes in membership, but equally there have been so many friendships built and sustained over the years. This is witnessed by all of you present here this evening.

Monday evenings in the early years were always regarded as scocial evenings and after being away, old members returning to Southwick were unlucky if on a Monday there was not a welcome at 26 Church Lane, the company’s base at Molly Penney’s house.

Wick was being formed at the same time as the Community Centre was being developed in the house and outbuildings of (Manor Farm) the farm on Southwick Street, which had been bought by Southwick Council. It was a time of change. The end of the war, changes in society and community involvement in all aspects of life.

At the same time the face of theatre and drama was changing. “Look Back in Anger”, the New Elizabethan era with new and encouraging playwrights, bringing a new order to theatre.  A new beginning with young people developing their skills. What better time for a new young drama company to be formed. The Wick had begun as the Unity Players then the Young Wick Players and finally The Wick Theatre Company.

Fortune smiled on the Wick with the Community Centre developing the Barn as a theatre and multi- purpose hall. Under the careful stewardship of Stanley Baker the whole of the Community Centre has been developed and the Wick Theatre Company has grown in equal measure over the years. The Centre has given us a home including this wonderful acting space.

Through the years Wick has continued to improve its standards and skills. Not everyone is an actor but there are many facets to a complete Production and everyone can take part. Acting, directing, set design and construction, props, costumes, stage crew, front of house, lighting and sound, all needed to make a strong team. It takes 3 from the team to put one actor on stage. With a strong but changing membership Wick has maintained its place in the county and community.

70 years, more than 250 productions, a close and friendly membership, that is what Wick means to me. It has been a dominant factor in my life. I have made hundreds of friends. I have acted in over 100 plays, directed others and covered all aspects of the working of the company. My last stage appearance was in the ‘Sailor Beware!’ excerpt last year.

It has been a rare privilege for me to be a founder member and to see Wick go into the future, its strength undiminished.