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Newsletter October 2021

Dear Members and Friends,

I hope you are well and enjoying these bright days before the clocks go back!

As summer gives way to autumn, we at The Gage are looking forward to our November production, Molly’s Calling, written and directed by our own Pip Rolls. Rehearsals are well under way in our delightful new rehearsal hall at Walton Primary School – it has been so good to see everyone face to face after many months of Zoom meetings – and rehearsals are going well, with everyone enjoying the play’s clever humour. We are wrapping up warm while rehearsing simply because we are keeping the windows open for good ventilation – still, most of us have rehearsed in far worse conditions, so we can make light of it.

I hope you have all made a note of our performance dates: 25th, 26th and 27th November, with an 8.00pm start. Tickets are bookable now at our box office – 01737 812 703. Everyone ringing will be asked to remember to wear or bring layers of clothing, or other means of keeping comfortable, as the windows of the Riddell Hall will also be open for fresh air during performances. Hand sanitation will be available on entry and at other points in the hall and cloakrooms. If you wish to wear a face covering, please do, but it will not be compulsory, unless regulations change beforehand.

Looking ahead into 2022, we have lined up a really hilarious evening of short plays on Saturday, 5th February to get the year off to a good start. Step forward again Pip Rolls, who has devised some wonderfully whacky alternative takes on history that might have been. What if The Pyramids of Giza were really built by the Marrinot Hotel Group in a bid to capture the long-term market? What if The Battle of Waterloo was really fought at Waterloo Station during the day, to avoid rush hour? These and three other uproarious scenarios from across the ages will be played out for you in fast-moving, full-blooded comedy.

The evening will begin with supper at 7.00pm (to be pre-ordered in due course), followed by three plays and then an interval for coffee and cake, then two more plays to round the evening off by about 10.00pm. A call for auditions will go out in December, and booking information for members and friends will be sent early in the New Year, so keep the date free – remember, 5th February.

Our main spring production in 2022 will be Agatha Crusty and The Village Hall Murders by Derek Webb, with playdates of 28th, 29th and 30th April. More information next time, but you won’t want to miss this one, so do keep a note of the dates. The call for auditions will go out in January.

We have other events in view for the first half of the year, including our anticipated participation in the Walton May Pageant, and other plans (perhaps even including a matinee) at the Riddell Hall. Please let us know your views on matinee performances via our website – if lots of you are in favour of these we will do our best to comply.

In the second half of 2022 there will be the Gage Invitational Trophy Quiz, on 17th September at St Katharine’s Hall in Merstham, hosted by the previous winners, St Mark’s Players, and The Gage helping with admin. More about this in due course.

Our winter production dates will be 24th, 25th and 26th November, auditions in July, with rehearsals to start in September.

Back to this year – we are planning to hold the next informal Gage meeting on Zoom for play- and poetry-readings among friends on Tuesday, 2nd November at 8.00pm, and we hope as any people as possible will join in.

We are looking at suggestions for fund raising to help us cover the unavoidably increased costs of rehearsal space, so if you have any ideas you would like us to consider please get in touch via our web site.

We also look forward to welcoming you back to The Gage next month to enjoy Molly’s Calling, so do book your places soon, and help us ensure that live performances continue in our community.

Very best wishes to you all.

Gay

Gay Weeden
Chair, Gage Committee

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National Poetry Day 2020

At the Gage, we celebrated a day early at our weekly Poetry and Prose Zoom evening. At the previous evening we asked the participants to come up with a Limerick for this one. Here are some of them:

There once was an amdram theatre
That performed every play to the letter.
They became all the rage,
Their name was The Gage,
And they kept getting better and better.
by Gill Gibbins


There was an old fogey from Cheam
Who, of reading, really was keen,
He read Orson Scott Card
And the Marques de Sade
But the latter found rather obscene.
by Lars Sawyer


There was a young woman from Kent,
Who never could quite pay her rent.
Filled her landlord’s belly
With grub off the telly
He said, ” Nigella, my dear, you just ain’t!
by Franki Gray


There was a young lady from Surrey,
Who seemed,always, to be in a hurry.
When asked what the rush was,
She got in a tiswas
Which really became quite a worry.
by Franki Gray


Also read and/or performed during the evening included:
On Aging  by Maya Angelou
Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas
Father William by Lewis Carroll
Bat by D.H. Lawrence
Death by Dollars by D. M. Larson
Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

If you would like to join in on any Wednesday evening for an hour, starting at 8pm, please join our mailing list http://thegageplayers.co.uk/mailing-list-signup/ and then send us a message at friends@thegageplayers.co.uk and we will add you to the Zoom invitation list. If you have already signed up to the mailing list but do not yet get an invitation and would like to get one, please email as above.

The variety of contributions during the evening has been wonderful and extremely entertaining.

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Good Things – Winter 2019 Production

Our Winter 2019 production

Our play was Good Things by Liz Lochhead.

Set in a charity shop on three different days in one year – Twelfth Night in January, Valentine’s Day in February and Christmas Eve in December – Good Things is a poignant and funny play with a lot to say about finding love later in life.

Performance dates at The Riddell Hall were 28th, 29th and 30th November, 2019.

 

Click on image to expand picture.

 

 

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The Gage Players

THE GAGE PLAYERS

ENTERTAINING THE TADWORTH AND WALTON COMMUNITY SINCE 1950

The Gage

Our theatre venue

Early days –the 1950s and 1960s

The 1970s and 1980s highlights

The 1990s and the Noughties

Up to the present day

We like to challenge ourselves . . .

On the social side . . .

Our charitable work

The unsung heroes

And into the future

 

 

The Gage

The Gage Players?  So – what’s in the name?  You could say that sexual equality is at the root of it all!  In 1950 the local Women’s Institute, with their usual radical fervour, got into all sorts of trouble when they dared to cast MEN into the men’s parts of a play production they entered for a competition!  It was none-so-tactfully suggested that these reforming spirits might like to set up a separate amateur drama group in Walton on the Hill, and then were told: ‘You’ll never succeed – there’s not room for two drama groups in the same area.’  

That was the challenge – the gage, or gauntlet, had been thrown down – and that gage has remained our symbol ever since.  All these years later, here we still are, putting on shows three times a year. We’re very proud of our roll of past productions listing plays, authors and directors, which takes centre stage on our website home page, and proud of our reviews, too.

Our theatre venue, The Riddell Hall, Dean’s Lane, Walton on the Hill

In 1911 the late Lord Riddell transformed a gravel pit into a drill hall for the Territorial Army, complete with miniature rifle range and a Mess, which later became Walton’s Men’s Social Club.  The hall was used for training during The Great War but on Lord Riddell’s death it was put up for sale – and then generously offered by Lady Riddell to the village as a memorial to her husband.

Local fundraising ensured that the hall could be restored for public use, and it was officially opened in October 1936.  However, it was taken over by the War Office in 1940 and used by the Canadian Army troops until 1946. Once again the hall had to be restored – a teak floor was laid in 1940, a new boiler installed, kitchen and stage facilities improved and a false ceiling introduced to aid acoustics – and The Young Vic Company performed here in 1950 to celebrate the fact.  Aspects of the hall are upgraded regularly, and many local clubs, organisations and private hirings make use of it for daytime and evening events.

Early days – the 1950s and 1960s

In our first years it was not common for everyone to have television for entertainment or to think of travelling up to London to a play.  So from the start we aimed to give our audiences the opportunity to see a wide range of productions – classic plays, whodunnits, thrillers, comedies, even musicals – we do them all.

Our first review for our first production in 1950, The Chiltern Hundreds by William Douglas Home was uplifting, to say the least: ‘The Riddell Hall was filled to capacity.  Encouraged by a receptive audience, the cast, some of whom were making their first stage appearance, gave a performance which fully justified the entry of these newcomers to the field of amateur theatricals.’

In our first two decades, our productions included:

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare (‘The most spectacular success achieved by this comparatively young society in the post-war years of its happy existence . . . a production of almost professional level in presentation and performance.’);  The Chalk Garden by Edith Bagnold; She Stoops to Conquer, by Oliver Goldsmith (‘achieved just the light, scintillating touch needed . . . an enjoyable and fast-moving production.’); Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie; Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier; Separate Tables by Terence Rattigan; and Hay Fever by Noel Coward

The 1970s and 1980s highlights

Boeing-Boeing by Marc Camelotti (, . . nothing but high praise can be meted out for the polished end-product . . . The Gage may well be proud of this outstanding production.’); How the Other Half Loves by Alan Ayckbourn; Dracula by Ken Hill (‘The cast really sank their teeth into the parts they played . . . superb lighting and sound effects . . . the whole thing was splendidly done.’); The Beaux’ Stratagem by George Farquhar; The Diary of Anne Frank, dramatised by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (‘The Gage Players performed with such powerful immediacy . . .  People come from long distances to see The Gage Players, and for this they were well rewarded.’); Sweeney Todd by Brian J. Burton; The Odd Couple by Neil Simon (‘The Gage . . .presented a powerful production with forceful, well-rounded and marvellously funny performances.’); A Murder has been Announced by Agatha Christie; An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley; Cabaret by Christopher Isherwood; Habeus Corpus by Alan Bennett; Trelawny of the Wells by Arthur Pinero; Pack of Lies by Hugh Whitemore; and A Chorus of Disapproval by Alan Ayckbourne.

The 1990s and the Noughties

1990 was our Ruby Anniversary and that year we celebrated with, among other things, The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Ken Hill; The Slipper and the Rose adapted by Pip Burley; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; and Vanity Fair by William Thackeray, adapted by Constance Cox; Dangerous Obsession by N. J. Crisp.  From 2000, our Gold Anniversary, the next decade included Dear Octopus by Dodie Smith; The Hollow by Agatha Christie; A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, dramatised by John Mortimer (with The Heath Players) – ‘All the ingredients for success – and full houses proved it was . . . a brilliant production.’; Daisy Pulls It Off by Denise Deegan; The Railway Children by E. Nesbitt; Toad of Toad Hall (with the Heath Players), 2006: ‘ . . . gave young members the chance to show their stagecraft . . .’

Up to the present day

2010 was our Diamond Anniversary, and we produced two winners that year: The Weekend by Michael Palin and Come on, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton.  Then we went on include The Titfield Thunderbolt by Philip Goulding; The Drunkard by Brian J. Burton (with The Heath Players); Dangerous Corner by J. B. Priestley; Yes, Prime Minister by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn;  Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene; The Teahouse of the August Moon by John Patrick and Vern Sneider (in which we famously cast a dog, and had people turning up on the night for tickets asking ‘Is this the play with the dog in it?’); Murder in Play by Simon Brett (‘The cast interplayed with one another exceptionally well, a true ensemble, and the effects and pace of the play were admirable . . . the audience clearly relished the fun, and the buzz in the interval and at the end of the evening showed how much they had got into the spirit of the occasion.’); Bedroom Farce by Alan Acykbourn; and Over My Dead Body by Derek Benfield.

More recently, our hits include A Touch of Danger by Francis Durbridge; Waiting for the Train by Pip Rolls; Vintage Hitchcock: a live radio play by Joe Landry (‘. . . an interesting and innovative production that includes three classic stories from Hitchcock films . . . I would have to rate this as one of the slickest productions I have seen from the Gage’); and Ladies Who Lunch by Tudor Gates.

We like to challenge ourselves . . .

Over the years we’ve supported numerous theatre festivals, with all the extra commitment that involves for casts and crews.  So we’ve supported the Tadworth and District Arts Festival, the British Drama League Festival, the National Festival of Community Theatre, the Banstead Arts Festival, and done rather well at some others:

At the 1954 Betchworth Drama Festival, The Gage won the Festival cup for Barbara’s Wedding Day by J. M Barrie, and in 1988 won the Committee’s Cup for stage presentation (The Pool by the Dragon Gate by E. G. Andrews).  And in the 1991 All-England Theatre Festival, Robin Sebastian Hunter, in our production of Come into the Garden, Maud by Noel Coward, won Best Supporting Actor.    Robin has gone on to make a successful career in theatre, television and radio.

On the social side . . .

Theatre people are sociable people, and we like to enjoy ourselves off the stage as well.   So we have a range of things to appeal to one and all – it could be a murder mystery evening, a Mid-Summer Day lunch, a pub quiz night, taking part in the Walton May Pageant, a rehearsed play reading with supper, or a Twelfth Night Supper – at which Gage members, their family and friends are all welcome.  So when you see something you fancy joining in with on our website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – just contact us.

Our charitable work

As well as regularly contributing the upgrading of The Riddell Hall, The Gage has given donations to organisations like the local air ambulance service, and our production of The Drunkard in 2011 enabled us to donate £1,500 to Help for Heroes.

In September 2016 we launched The Gage Invitational Trophy, a charity quiz championship held between a local grouping of a dozen amateur drama societies, known as The Public Forum (which we also started up).  The Forum helps to publicise each other’s events, enlarge our audiences and even share actors from time to time.

Gatton Community Theatre were the 2016 trophy winners, and together the groups’ teams raised £150.00 for our chosen charity, The Invictus Games Choir.  Gatton held the trophy until 2018, when it was won by St Mark’s Players of Reigate and a cheque for £230 was sent to Combat Stress. St Mark’s Players will host the next quiz competition in 2020 – watch our website for updates.  If you want to join the quiz but don’t belong to one of the drama groups, don’t worry – just get in touch with the contact person to see about fielding a team, or joining one.

The unsung heroes

It is a truth universally acknowledged that you cannot put on a great show without a great crew of backstagers, the people who do sets, lighting, sound, wardrobe, makeup, props and ‘front of house’ – oh, and make the tea at rehearsals, of course!  We hold three open auditions each year, not just for actors and actresses but for people who’d like to learn and try out new skills, or offer existing ones, to help each production work – see our website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for details through the year, and get in touch.

And into the future

Just think how far technology has changed entertainment options since we started in 1950; these days you can watch what you choose more or less when and where you like on any number of platforms.  

BUT – actually being at live entertainment gives a buzz like nothing else, so come and enjoy the fun of living theatre for two or three evenings a year!  Not too much to ask, we hope, to help keep The Gage Players on-stage in your community. We look forward to welcoming you.

Our Spring 2019 play is the thriller Curtain up on Murder by Bettine Manktelow, playing on 2nd, 3rd and 4th May at 8pm.  Tickets £10, box office 01737 812 703, doors and bars open at 7.30pm.

 

 

 

This is the Riddell Memorial Hall, there is no real car park so please park in the streets paying respect to the neighbours drives and cars.
This is the Riddell Memorial Hall, there is no real car park so please park in the streets paying respect to the neighbours drives and cars.
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