Wednesday 13th September to Saturday 16th September 2017
Directed by Mark Wakeman
Mark My Words is a series of 4 one-act plays.
Your Forever. Claire invites Steve to the pub to break up with him. A comedy drama.
First and Last. Thomas, an older man has a seemingly chance encounter with a much younger woman in a cafe but all is not as it seems. A poignant drama with a streak of wit.
Red Rockett. Chaos in the recording studio of a 1950's BBC show. An accident with the tapes means the show has to broadcast live but everything starts to go wrong. A straight out comedy.
Thirty Six Candles. A comedy about old friends getting together to celebrate a birthday and realising that their forties is approaching.
These plays were staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Colleague of Thomas||Jaspar Utley|
|Sir Hogmany Wash||Roger Wallsgrove|
|Miss Vole||Robin Hall|
|Producers||Jaspar Utley, Sonja Jones|
|Stage Manager||Jessi Wilson|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Megan Green|
|Lighting Design||Thomas Hall|
|Sound Design||Jacquie Penrose|
|Lighting Operation||Phillippa Thorne|
|Sound Operation||Ingrid Corrigan|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
|Handbill Design||Dan Finch|
|FOH Manager||Sharman Callam|
It was a moment of insanity. Play Selection was looming, I didn't have a play but I really wanted to do something. But it was deadline day and I had no time to find out the available rights to anything. Then I remembered that there was a really cheap playwright I knew who might have some useful scribblings and so this evening of theatre was born.
It's been a fascinating and exciting production to work on as on the one hand I knew the material really well and didn't have to spend weeks exploring the text to find its meaning. I also knew what I wanted when I wrote it so I've just gone for that. But of course the plays have chosen their own path and have weaved and veered off into exciting new directions. On the other hand, with one exception, these plays had never enjoyed any time in front of an audience so people might hate them. So that's been a very scary thought.
Then there were the rehearsals themselves. Trying to split a normal play's rehearsal time among four different plays and casts ... whilst for me it's mostly been a different play every night. It became such a whirr that sometimes I just waited to see what actors turned up to get my head around which play I was directing at what time!
But I can't deny I am excited that these plays will finally be performed, one of them has been hanging around my head for about ten years now so it's about time I got rid of it.
But none of this could have been possible without my daring cast and crew. Many I've worked with before and it was humbling that they trusted me enough to want to share this adventure with me. Some of them I've not worked with before but I hope they will want to join me on future voyages.
So it's been a wild ride and I've only gotten here thanks to the endless enthusiasm of my team, both on and off stage. Thanks team. I hope my words can do your hard work proud.
Also my thanks to you, the audience for taking a risk on some new theatre. There's something exciting about being the first audience to ever see a piece of work. I hope you enjoy it. There are four plays so hopefully if you don't like one, another might tickle your fancy.
But no, seriously, without you coming to see our shows we would cease to exist as a company and we wouldn't get a chance to produce these plays old and new as we do. So thank you for coming and please come again.
I hope that you enjoy the show.
This week they are presenting four one-act plays, written and directed by their own Mark Wakeman. The plays - 36 Candles, Your Forever, First and Last and Red Rockett (written with Mike Hickman) - demonstrate Wakeman's love (and mastery) of language as well as his eye for detail and situation. '36 Candles' is a study of friendship, ageing and our universal fear of romantic rejection and has an astonishingly well-crafted performance from Angie McKeown as Lizzie. 'Your Forever' ostensibly presents the story of a romantic break-up. Again, while the twist-in-the-tale is nothing new, Wakeman's script and two cracking performances from Dan Finch and Beth Evans made this the highlight of the evening for me.
'First and Last' is the most thoughtful of the pieces on offer and although the painful conclusion becomes obvious to the audience, it is still satisfying. The last of the plays, 'Red Rockett, could do with some judicious trimming and tightening up. The principal situation is not new and the script adds nothing fresh to it and it did end by feeling a little laboured. It's a great evening overall – and The Bench deserve support for staging it.