I joined what was then Kirkgate Church Dramatic Society 50 years ago, in January 1971. I had started working at the Scottish Widows the previous summer and a colleague, John Somerville, sold me a ticket to see All My Sons. I had been interested in drama at school but hadn’t gone much to the theatre, apart from variety shows and pantomimes at the Palladium and King’s Theatres. John invited me along to the club, and my first attendance was very memorable as there was a power cut and I was introduced to everyone by torchlight.
My first acting part was in January 1971 in our SCDA and KDF one act production of The Eccentric. In December that year I was cast as Jenny Hamilton in The Sorcerer’s Tale. I acted in a few one acts and full-length plays, but I really preferred to be backstage, doing props or stage management. Apart from costume and directing, I think I have worked in most roles backstage and front of house for the club.
One of the most memorable productions, for me, was Night Must Fall in December 1978. I was helping backstage and on the final performance, the person responsible for props started packing them away, ready for the move out. Unfortunately, she packed up a petrol can that was vital to the last scene. John Somerville, playing the baddie, went off stage to pick up the can from where it should be, only to find it missing. He ran to the other side of the stage, opened the door and, using several expletives, asked where it was. There was much banging and crashing backstage until it was found, and from then on, it was a rule that props are never packed until the curtain comes down on the last night.
I was really pleased when my daughter Kim followed in my footsteps and was in her very first Leitheatre production, Les Miserables in 2002, when she was 11. She and 3 of her school friends were also in our 2007 production of The Crucible.
Photo credit - Audience by Walter Hampson
Having not acted for many years, I enjoyed being part of Audience, our 2016 SCDA entry (mainly because I was sitting down for the majority of the time, so didn’t have to learn moves as well as lines!)
I have particularly enjoyed taking the production photographs for the club for the past 20 years or so and maintaining the website. There have been so many changes in the club over the years: different name, different premises, different theatres, new technology and now the difficulties that the current restrictions impose, but one thing remains the same - the pleasure of being part of a club which is welcoming, friendly, adaptable and supportive and where I have made many great friends.
Thank you Leitheatre.