Harbour Theatre - mainly for former members

1980

Apr: The Real Inspector Hound and After Magritte by Tom Stoppard, dir. Tony Stott

These two one-acters are often performed together, but it had only been four years since Tony had last done 'Hound', so he took a chance. This time Rod and I played the theatre critics watching a murder mystery and becoming involved in the action from seats in the audience, the play within the play. Stoppard deliberately based the whodunnit on the plot of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, but he knew the producers of the West End show wouldn't complain. It would draw attention to the fact that this play, even its title, gives away the surprise ending. (I hadn't realised that until I read it on Wikipedia!)  I always liked this play, as I'd worked on it whilst at RSAMD.

Don't remember anything about After Magritte, but Harry Roat gets a mention.

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June: God by Woody Allen, dir. Rod MacCowan

 This is the only picture I have of the cast, and it's very bad. However, L-R is Jean Doole, Robert Hunter, David Murdoch, Jim Tannock, Gaye Dillon, Derek Murdoch, Mark Allan. I don't have a programme, so don't know who else was in the cast.                 Over to Rod. . . . .

 "Woody Allen writes plays? ", we all said. Sure enough. A strange play, a mix of modern USA and Ancient Greece. Groucho Marx made a brief appearance, too. The script contained the stage instruction, "There is thunder and fabulous lightning. The effect is wonderful", which so impressed us, it made its way into several of our own scripts after this.

Can't remember much about the play itself, but Robert Hunter, playing Zeus, made an impression by falling from a high platform in a parachute harness on the end of a rope, apparently dead. He swung backwards and forwards, spinning gently.

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Aug: The Bar Olympics, written/dir. by Andy Baird, Rod MacCowan and the cast.

To celebrate the Moscow Olympics of that year, we staged our own version of the games as a bar show, with a drinking theme - longest stagger, avoiding paying for a round, talking the most rubbish, the longest honk, etc, subtle things like that.

Sheila campbell had a part in this which required her to wear roller skates (I think it was this show). Despite being even then a mature lady, she was happy to give it a go. We had to physically restrain her, though, when she insisted on rehearsing after having one or two brandies too many!

We decided to incude something deliberately shocking and unexpected, to get away, for once, from the 'safe' Harbour Theatre image we had (nurtured). The event was Opening a Packet of Crisps. Several characters tried and failed miserably, all beaten by Miss Prim, played by Mary Lindsay. Rod, as commentator, kept up the tension well, describing to the audience how this mousy, fragile, elderly spinster opened the packet slowly and daintily, took out a crisp, put it in her mouth ever so gently, but then spat it out again violently, uttering the unexpected line, "They're f****** boggin'!! (For those not familiar with West of Scotland patois, boggin' means disgusting) Cue shock horror reaction, but the audience got over it, and the show went down well.  

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Dec: Jack and The Beanstalk, written by committee, dir. Jim Tannock

. . . and I do mean written by committee, as bunches of us met at Jim's house at various times to suggest plotlines and dialogue which Jim wrote down in longhand. But bits kept being added here and there all through rehearsals, and I'm not sure even the SM ever had a complete script! However, it all seemed to go quite well and we sold a lot of tickets.

You may ask, "And how did the beanstalk grow in a place like HAC?". Well, it didn't. It "grew" downwards from a hatch in the ceiling in a blackout!

I'm ashamed to say I kind of disgraced myself during this run. I played Squire Nickersgay (no, I don't remember him from the original story either!), an effeminate, lisping but 'nice' character. (all right then, GAY. There was no such thing as Political Correctness in those days) One night, I picked up the Golden Goose prop as usual and left the backstage area, but absent-mindedly put it down somewhere, forgot about it, then made my entrance. I remembered it when I was supposed to produce it flamboyantly from under my arm. Panicking, I hurriedly ad-libbed and minced off, thinking I hadn't been given it. In what was meant to be a stage whisper, but apparently which was heard by everyone in the audience, I bellowed, "Where's the ****** Golden Goose??". It was later discovered in the gallery, where I'd left it. Sorry, everybody. 

1981

Jan: Gallimaufry, written/comp/dir. by the cast

Gallimaufry means a jumble, or collection, or hotch-potch, so this show was another Miscellany by a different name.

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Apr: The Diary of Anne Frank by Goodrich/Hackett, dir. Pat MacCowan.

Anne Frank was huge challenge technically, as we had to represent three attic rooms and four doorways. The theatre's sloping cam ceilings helped, and the doorways weren't a problem, so we solved the problems of the rooms by getting Andy Doole to recreate the balcony that he'd built for The Hostage nine years earlier. As it was going to cost a small fortune, he made it modular and reusable. and it more than paid for itself by appearing in 18 or 19 later productions. It took some nerve to walk or even run along it, as it wasn't actually fixed to the wall, and it swayed quite a bit. And those stairs were really steep! It took a squad of people to erect it, but only took about twenty minutes if we had all the bits handy. 

Apart from a few bugs in the grass in Still Life, and the giant spider we all saw scuttling across the floor during Spearathon, I think this was the only time we had live animals on stage, in the form of the Frank family cat. In best Hollywood tradition, we actually had three cats available, and which one appeared depended on the mood they were in on the night! There was one perfomance though, where either Finn, Bert or Quaver was yowling a bit in its basket and was a distraction, so I had to evict the beast at the first available scene drop. At that, a muffled titter ran round the room.

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May-Aug. Street Theatre written/comp/dir. by Rod MacCowan and the cast.

Some of us fancied having a HAC presence at various summer Festivals and Galas in the area, so Rod put together a 20-minute Street Theatre mime show, cos we'd never done stuff like that before. We even had taped sound effects and music cues courtesy of a battery tape player, specially-printed T-shirts, and in between performances, sheltered in my old Scout tent! We also sold tickets for an instant prize draw and handed out HAC leaflets.

 

The photos were taken on the Moor at Marymass. This picture L-R Robert Hunter, me (I was SM), Paul Welsh, Janice Williamson, Rod. Front L-R Jeni Park,   ?  , Corrine McRoberts, Stuart Kane, all looking like something out of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band! 

 

Here we are, being 'A Machine' I think, with the addition of Jim Greer and Pat on the right. Other items included The Burglars skit from the Festive Treason show, and The Flea Circus, where somebody was under the table moving things around to make the props look like they were being moved around by tiny fleas!

 

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June: A Tomb With a View by Norman Robbins, dir. Gary Winn

This was Gary's directorial debut, a comedy thriller. This type of play is the staple of amateur dramatic societies, and there's no harm in that. Audiences like them, because they're entertaining, and we did them well.

Jim T was in the cast, played his part well of course, and didn't disappoint in other ways. After the first night, we discovered that he'd taped pages of the script inside the lid of his character's briefcase !

I worked on a TV show once where an actor was playing cards, and during rehearsals we discovered that he'd written his cues on them. Of course, when it came to the recording, his friends in the crew had shuffled the pack.

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Oct: Something In It For Cordelia by Joan Ure, dir. Sheila Campbell

Against my better judgement, as I knew I would be writing and directing this year's Panto, I agreed to take a part in this short one-act as a favour to Sheila. I played an old actor appearing as King Lear at the Edinburgh Festival, and waiting for a train home at Waverley Station, and I got to play the whole thing sitting in a wheelchair! It was 'different' playing a two-hander.

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Dec: Aladdin written/dir by Andy Baird

       

This Panto was a bit more ambitious, since we knew a bit more about what we were doing. The production credits make interesting reading. I can't remember exactly why I credited Johnnie Beattie and Spike Milligan. I suspect it was because I pinched jokes or routines from them. STV was thanked because, unknowingly, they had provided sound effects (yet again!) and recording facilities. I can't remember what we had for music in the first Panto, but I think I'm right that this was the first show we'd recorded our own multi-instrument backing tracks.

Poor Derek Murdoch as the Genie of the Lamp - fantastic costume, face hidden behind a mask, only seen for a couple of minutes, miming to taped dialogue! Jim T as Abanazzar looked great too (see picture above) and was in his element. He made many of his entrances and exits through the audience, and milked the evil bit by cackling a lot and leering at the kids. They had great fun booing him, and on one occasion, one of the little darlings told him exactly where to go! He claimed that later on, he said "BOO!!" to that same kid so suddenly and unexpectedly, the poor child soiled himself!

I don't have a decent photo of the whole cast, but the one above shows Gary Winn, Jim Greer and Sheila Campbell. Another popular character was our pantomime horse, called Rover, and the kids loved him. Truthfully, about the only reason for having him was an excuse to use the old Pantomime Horse counting routine - somebody asks the horse, "What is seven times six?". The horse blows a raspberry and stamps its foot twice. The guy says, "Correct - farty two!".

Harry Roat gets another appropriate credit.

1982

Mar: The Harbour Theatre Show comp/dir by Sheila Campbell, Jim Greer & Gaye Dillon

 Another miscellany of songs, sketches, etc.

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Apr: The Chalk Garden by Enid Bagnold, dir. Jim Greer

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June: Brush With a Body by Maurice McLaughlin, dir. Jim Duff

 Director Jim Duff had spent many years backstage, and this was his first directing job.

His debut would have been traumatic enough, but for one incident. Jim T, aforementioned for being famous for ad-libbing, arrived for the show one night having had "one or two glasses of wine with lunch". Some lunch. Fortunately, his first appearance was some way into the play, so while the rest of us got on with it nervously, the backstage crew poured lots of black coffee into him. We were worried about what the HELL he was going to come out with, but blow me down, by the time he got on stage, the beggar was word perfect for the first time in his career. This of course, threw the rest of us, and WE were the ones who found ourselves ad-libbing a few times. I was so nervous, I accidentally took on the wrong prop, nearly blowing the plot in the process. I hadn't realised it until the said coffee-laden Jim pointed it out to me, in character, with an inspired ad-lib. This made me into a quivering wreck, but I think I got away with it!  I cheekily tried to blame the ASM for giving me the wrong prop, but it hasn't hurt his career. He was Eric Potts, who went on to find fame and fortune as Diggory Compton, the baker in Coronation Street.

This was the one and only time we had a serving Church of Scotland minister in a cast. Tom O'Leary was a sort of temporary locum in the area, and a fine actor.

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Sept: The Private Ear by Peter Shaffer, dir. Jim Duff

This was Jim's second play as director, following immediately on from his first. Notice his 'SHORT NOTE' on the programme. Harbour Theatre had that effect on some people!

It was a play about a young man cooking a meal for his girlfriend, so Harry Roat's credit is apposite.

The press cutting for this was annoying. Invariably they referred to us as 'the' Harbour Theatre. Did they think that was the name of the building? Latterly, in any press releases I wrote, I always referred to us as the 'Harbour Theatre Company', but they tended to ignore the extra word.

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Dec: Cinderella written/dir by Jean Doole

Our third Panto, and by now we were cooking with gas. A great script and great perfomances from a big cast, backed up by a professional, and large, crew. Can't remember any tantrums, despite all these people crowded backstage, we were having too much FUN. I think this was my favourite part. 

Jim and I revelled in our roles as the Ugly Sisters (and boy, were we UGLY!) and we just kept adding gags and business, and the audience loved it. An adult in the audience was a bit cheeky one night, but we knew who he was, so we got revenge by "accidentally" stamping on his toes on our next entrance, in character of course. How the audience howled - we could have punched his face in and got away with it!

There was a problem right at the start of rehearsals though. Jim and I both sported well-established beards. Jean said one of us could keep it, so we tossed a coin. I lost, so off it came. This was only the second time I'd shaved since leaving school, and I haven't done it since. It turned out OK though, as Jim played his part like Cupid Stunt, the Kenny Everett TV character. (You know, "but it's all in the best POSSIBLE taste!") Suspiciously, that line was in the original script. . . . .

The aforementioned Eric Potts appeared as The Fairy Godmother, and to prove it, here's his photo. Nowadays, he's a family man, and a very popular Panto Dame in North of England theatres. He even appeared as Dame at the King's in Glasgow in 2006.

The backing tracks were becoming more sophisticated. Multi-talented Eric played drums and piano on some tracks using his experience from Dreghorn Brass Band, as did John Doole. I played bass, and Harvie Smith, guitar. Harvie was to go on to become a unique member of future Panto casts, so more of him later. We recorded the tracks in Jean's house, and  it was his idea to rename it The Novack & Good Studios. (Say it quickly!) Harvie's clowning abilities probably started to come to the fore around now. His glass eye became a focus of his comedy. He was part of the general chorus, and during the ballroom scene, he would waltz past some un-suspecting member of the cast, and say quietly, "Here, take this!", dropping something into your hand. When you opened it, his spare glass eye would be looking up at you!

The Harry Roat Pumpkin & Coach Farm was credited with supplying the pumpkin.

1983

Mar: The Trojan Women by Euripides, dir. Ian Dickson

"You rippa dese, I'll rippa dose". Well, what else were we going to say? There weren't many laughs in this 2.500 year-old Greek tragedy, directed by first-time HAC director Ian Dickson, then a Classics teacher.

Another big cast show, and more new faces thankfully. The play dealt with the aftermath of the Greeks' destruction of Troy, but was an allegory for all subsequent wars. Many splendid ccostumes had to to be made by John Silver, and it was exciting to have artist Paul Lucky design the set. The broken walls of the city were represented, and of course, the balcony was utilised. This lot on the left is the Greek Army, represented by Jim Carnie, Christopher Cooper, John Doole, Iain Whitelaw, Harvie Smith and Gary Winn.

 

Director Ian insisted on having a more-or-less full size cart on the stage, so it was built as big as possible to fit the narrow wingspace. Inside is young (as he was then) Iain Silver.

  

 

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June: Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott, dir. Jim Tannock

At last, the ghost of Harry Roat would be laid! This was the play that started all that nonsense. I can now reveal that I was Harry Roat! I played a villain, who along with a couple of accomplices, was harrassing Suzy, a blind woman who had unknowingly come into possession of a doll stuffed with drugs, trying to worm their way into her confidence in order to get at them. Jim reset the original location from New York to Rutherglen - how exotic. I 'murdered' the other two before getting my comeuppance by being stabbed by Suzy at the climax of the play, after she had smashed all the lights. There was only the light from the fridge to work by, and May was using a real knife! By the looks of the photo, the blood bags worked well. (No, the blood wasn't actually that colour!)

Standing L-R Derek Murdoch, Stuart Kane, me, Iain Whitelaw, Jim Greer. Seated L-R Heather Speirs, Gary Winn, May Grentz (now Smith).

To represent the set being a basement flat, a few steps had been built at the door in the picture. Part of the action involved Iain's character opening the door, stepping through it, then staggering back and down the steps having been stabbed, by me actually. In rehearsal, I was saying to Iain we should work out the choreography of him falling safely but convincingly down the steps . He said, "How about this?" and suddenly threw himself down the steps, collapsing like a rag doll on the stage. He hurt himself, of course, and went to hospital for a checkup, but arrived back soon with a sheepish grin and a few bruises. What a twit, but thank God he wasn't seriously injured.

Harry Roat still got a separate credit in the proramme - "For the purposes of this production, Harry Roat has asked that his name be witheld as he wishes to remain anonymous". That must have REALLY confused the audience!

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Dec: Red Riding Hood by Gary Winn, dir Sheila Campbell with Jean Doole

The Cast. Back L-R Pat, me, Jim Greer, Jill Tyre, Graeme Robertson, Louise Milligan, Gaye Dillon, Harvie Smith, Jim Tannock, Gary Winn, Jim Carnie, Isabel Silver. Front L-R May Grentz, Christine McMahon (hi, sis!), oor Claire, Christine Daly ?, Laura Grentz, Helena Brown ?, Sandra Smith ?, Heather Spiers, Hazel Murdoch.

Gary wrote this, but liked it so much, he wanted to be in it! Fair enough.  Harvie was pre-cast as Alan A'Dale, cos he was the only one who could play the mandolin. He decided to wear an eyepatch again in this show, but he would clown around in the dressing room by putting it over his good eye, then stumble around shouting, "I'm blind, I'm blind!".  Jim T, as the baddie, appears to have his eyebrows meeting in the middle - nice touch. Pat & I played the two comic guards, Stutter & Squeak. Guess who played Stutter? Being a life-long sufferer, it was difficult to stutter on cue, and even more difficult to stop! I think I had to develop a different kind of stutter, and maybe a nervous tic as well, like Jack Douglas in the Carry On films. 

1984

Mar: Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton, dir. Jim Greer.

  

 

Some of the cast. L-R Harvie Smith, Gary Winn, Gaye Dillon, Derek Murdoch, Isabel Silver, Wylie Smith  

 

 

 

 

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June: An' Me Wi a Bad Leg, Tae by Billy Connolly, dir. Jim Duff                         World Amateur Premiere

As the programme, designed by cartoonist Malky McCormick says, this was a World Amateur Premiere, a huge feather in Harbour Theatre's cap, so we ran it for six nights. Borderline had done the first production of this play, so director Jim used their influence to get the neccessary permission to do it, not an easy task. It was a fairly new play, and hadn't yet been released for amateur performance, so Connolly's management was initially reluctant to allow it. However, with Borderline's blessing and, probably, The Big Yin's previous connections with HAC, they eventually agreed, and I think we made a great job of it (in fact I think we improved it!) Sandy Morton, who'd been in the original production and who went on to play Gollie in Monarch of the Glen, was living in Irvine at the time, indeed was married to our own Denise Scott, so we all knew him, and he came along to a few rehearsals and gave us a few tips.

Many memorable moments come to mind, one of which was created by my nearest and dearest. As the drink flowed, Pat's character was supposed to suddenly burst into song, 'For Ever and Ever', with the rest of us joining in. That's what we rehearsed anyway. One night though, her mind went blank, and she came out with 'Your Cheatin' Heart'. Our carefully-rehearsed expressions of surprise were real that night, but fortunately, enough of us knew enough of the song to join in. I don't think the audience realised they'd just witnessed a live edit!

We always said a silent prayer for the coffee table too. It was carefully rigged (with matches I believe) to collapse safely for the staged fight at the end, but it had to be used for drinks and sandwiches and things before that, not to mention the hoovering around it and passing traffic. But every night it sur-vived, and when I shoved Stuart onto it, it broke beautifully like something out of a Wild West saloon brawl. Speaking of Stuart, I arrived for the show one night to find him with one arm heavily bandaged right up to the shoulder. He said he'd had an accident at work. I started panicking, worrying about the fight, then everybody fell about laughing. It had been a wind-up. Aye, very funny. I aged quite a few years in those moments. 

Some of us really suffered for our art though. Jim T had to drink copious amounts of burnt sugar water (as whisky) throughout the show, and collapse with a coughing fit right at the end, before being carried off. But one night, what with the sugary water and the coughing, he threw up backstage when he was taken off, and nearly didn't make it back for his curtain call, after which he threw up backstage again! Oh, how we laughed. . . . . .

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Jul: HT - The Harbour Terrestrials comp/dir. Gary Winn and the cast.

 

 

 

A sort of mime show, clearly aimed at kids.

 

 

 

 

 

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Oct: Pardon Me Prime Minister by Taylor/Grahame, dir. Isabel Silver.

 

Back L-R Graeme Robertson, Helen Adam, Jim Greer, Rosemary Philips. Seated L-R Gaye Dillon, Gary Winn,Sheila Campbell, Jackie Muir. Front, Harvie Smith.

PMPM was a political comedy, very much in the style of TV's Yes Prime Minister, detailing the comedic shenanigans that might be going on behind the famous black door. For publicity, we hit on the brilliant idea of writing to Downing Street, telling them what we were doing and what the play was about, and asking Thatcher to wish us good luck. We didn't really expect a reply, so I was dead chuffed when an envelope marked 'Downing Street' dropped through my letterbox. The postie must have been very impressed.

 

 

It wasn't signed by the Alien Queen - sorry, Thatcher - of course.  That would have been too much to hope for, and I doubt she ever even knew about it, but it did prove that her Deputy Press Secretary was going with the flow, and had a sense of humour. It had the desired effect and we got a fair bit of local Press coverage out of it, quoting me several times with things I never said, but that's the Press for you.

 

 

 

 

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Dec: The Sleeping Beauty, written/dir. Jean Doole

Standing L-R Helen Adam, Sheila Campbell, John Doole, David Parker, Gaye Dillon, me, Pat, Eric Park (the dragon!) Gary Winn, Jim Tannock, Christine Cripps, Jackie Muir. Front L-R Harvie Smith, ?, ?, ?, Shona MacGregor, ?, Andy Stirrat.

This was good fun, as most of us had a bit of a kip in the middle of it! Eric, inside the dragon costume, was supposed to be frightening, but ended up being so cuddly, the kids loved him! The Prince, played by Christine Cripps, had a great pair of legs, but she still stabbed him under the armpit him at the end. Eric appeared with a crutch and bandages for his curtain call, and got a sympathetic awwwww from the audience. I supplied a Genesis instrumental track for the fight, and I still can't believe I got away with it. 

1985

Mar: Moby Dick & Henry X Pt VII by Michael Green, dir. Gary Winn

Michael Green wrote the seminal book about how NOT to do amateur drama, The Art of Coarse Acting, and if I had the power, I would make it compulsory for anyone with the slightest interest in amateur theatre to read and absorb it before they even get to set foot on a stage. His plays are equally funny, and are written in the 'Coarse' style, where things deliberately go wrong. This seemed like a gift, but was actually as important to do well as any 'serious' drama. But it was also very funny, and gave us the chance to really ham things up, and have some of the worst acting, singing, dancing and prop and set design ever seen at HAC. Tables collapsed, people tripped, choked on drinks, trousers fell down, scenery nearly fell over, all that sort of thing. And of course, we added bits of appropriate business all over the place. Quoting lines out of context would be silly, but there's a school version of Moby Dick on YouTube here. It's not as good as ours of course, but you get the idea! 

Henry Xth Pt VII, Shakesperian in content, was equally as daft. Lighting cues didn't happen, sound cues happened in the wrong place, the plastic prop baby was dropped on its head, swords got stuck in their scabbards, etc. Harvie was in his element as the Jester, in a costume that was FAR too good for this show, playing the mandolin again (see left). He got to sing some really silly songs, and called everybody 'nuncle' whatever that means. What a scream. The poster above was designed again by Malky McCormick. He happened to be doing portraits to order one day in HAC, (the 'Gonny Draw Us a Photie?' show) so Gary and I just asked him, and he said yes.

 

Moby Dick cast L-R May Smith, Hazel Murdoch, ?, Rosemary Philips, David Murdoch, me, David Parker, Andy Stirrat, Alan -, Jim Tannock, ?, Harvie Smith, Gabby somebody, Graeme Robertson. Costumes were deliberately crap. We all had rugby jerseys and donkey jackets. Somebody even had 'ICI' printed on the back! Jim's cardboard hat kept collapsing, and his peg leg would fall off at regular intervals. He still ad-lbbed of course, but in this show, it was impossible to tell the ad-libbed lines from the real ones.

Henry Xth cast L-R David Parker, Harvie Smith, Jim Greer, Alan ?, May Smith, david Murdoch, Jim Tannock, Andy Stirrat, Hazel Murdoch, Graeme Robertson  ?, ?, Laura Grentz, Rosemary Philps, Jim Carnie. Some of the men had tights, but as you can see, they were merely ladies tights, and you could see the reinforced tops. Dave Parker, with his wooden sword, is threatening the young princess baby, which was obviously just a plastic dolly. We did two more Michael Green plays in 1996.

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May: Gregory's Girl by Bill Forsyth, a co-production with K.I.D.S. dir. May Smith

'kids' stood for Kids In Drama Scheme, and was something to do with director May's work with young people. In yet another co-production, May supplied the ideas and most of the cast, HAC supplied the facilities and tech personnel.

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June: The Bar Show written/dir. by Rod MacCowan & Andy Baird

This Bar Show (there were several) is fondly remebered, as I think it was our funniest, and Rod and I still laugh about it. We wrote some great sketches which we later tried to sell to the Comedy Unit, but without success. Star Bores was the follow-up to our previous Star Trek sketch, with similar humour. The Bar Pavilions came from TV's The Far Pavilions. I played the Rajah of Jolipoor, complete with comedy Indian accent (wonder why we never sold that sketch?). The Gong Show was a talent show with rotten acts, long before all these Britain's Got The X Pop Factor Superstar Strictly Oliver things, where our audience really did pick the best act. Of course, when they got gonged off was carefully rehearsed. In the case of the Country & Western Duo, it was before they even opened their mouths to sing!

Above is 'Reporting Scotland Today'. Guess what that was about. The twist was that we were playing well-known HAC faces, who were in the audience and were unaware they were about to be lampooned! I'm playing 'Eric Lark' (Eric Park), complete with comedy false nose, grey moustache and pint mug; Isabelle Murdoch is the interviewer; Pat MacCowan is 'Wheen Full' (Jean Doole), with fag, drink in hand and comedy thrusting chest; Rod MacCowan plays Ian Dickson whose comedy name I can't remember - Fleein' Dicken or something -  with large black moustache (it was in them days) and mortar board (teacher, geddit?). On the right is Alan Icanneverrememberhisname playing Slim Puff (Jim Duff), with large Franken-stein boots (cos he's very tall), comedy bald head and glasses (cos he has them), and very large bunch of keys (cos he was HAC Property Convener at the time). We also had him in face mask and bandages because poor Jim had recently had shingles. (We used to sing 'Shingle Bells, shingle bells, shingles all the way'.) The audience howled with laughter, as did the victims. We'd worked very hard to keep this sketch a surprise, and it was. 

 

This is possibly the only known picture of The Ghoulidhs (Goolies), an 'Irish' folk band which made several appearances throughout the years. Rod was already infamous for his impromptu and whisky-fuelled comic Irish dancing at a late-night post-Burns Supper ceilidh some years previously, viewed with much hilarity, so he'd capitalised on that by writing a song, 'Brush Up Yer Erse'. The title came from a story I'd heard about an Irish radio programme designed to help people speak better Irish Gaelic, or 'Erse' as it is called. (This is true!) I don't think the programme was ever made, at least not with that title. The tune was The Irish Washerwoman, and you'd know it if you heard it. One verse went, "Sure, when I was a young man down in County Clare, I fell in love with Biddy O'Hare, not much to look at but oh, what a pair, so I gave her a touch of the brush up yer erse", and so on, you get the general idea.

And it wasn't just the song, oh no. We'd a whole load of 'Irish' patter as well, (we actually had a script!) and proper 'Irish' names too, like Mick Ghoulidh, Dan Ghoulidh, Paddy Ghoulidh, etc. For this show, we also added backing singers - The Ghoulettes - comprising Pat, Mary Lindsay and Gaye Dillon. Rod did his Irish dancing bit in the chorus, and to this day, I can't watch Riverdance with-out thinking of it! What a laugh . . . . .

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Oct: Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti, dir. Jim Tannock

This was about an airline pilot with three fiances on the go at one time, each of whom must never bump into the other, but of course, they all arrive at his flat at the same time, so we made full use of the theatre's five doorways for this originally-French farce. You may have seen the Hollywood version with Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis.

All three girls were required to appear in skimpy underwear at some point in the script, brave enough, but it caused an unforseen problem for one of them. We had expected surprised reactions, maybe even a whistle, but on the second or third time she appeared in her frillies, her mother-in-law in the audience was so outraged, she threw her coat on to the stage! This is one of the disadvantages of acting in such close, intimate surroundings, but none of the men in the audience were complaining! But the actress kept her mind on the script, and carried on regardless. What she said to her mother-in-law after the show though, is probably best kept en famille.

I see there's a credit for 'photography'. Don't remember seeing any of those pictures. Jim, what are you hiding?

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Dec: Dick Whittington and his Magic Cat written/dir. Jean Doole

Back L-R, Andy Stirrat, me, Jennifer ---, Pete Wadley, Jackie Kane, Graeme Robertson, Jim Greer, Derek Murdoch, May Smith, Hazel Murdoch. Middle - Andy McGregor, Hazel McGregor, Harvie Smith.  Front - John Doole, Sheila Campbell, Diane Thriepland, Laura Grentz, Shona McGregor, ? ,  Linda McDougal?,  ?  , oor Claire.

This was the first time we did Dick! For reasons best known to the writer/ director, I played an aggressive Italian cook. As was by now traditional, extra 'funny bits' were added to the script on the last night, some of them surprises for the cast. One of the major bits of scenery was the kitchen I worked in, and on this show, the tech crew went a bit crazy and while I was stirring a pot and ranting about something in mock Italian, they BLEW UP the stove!. I remember thinking, 'Shall I laugh or cry?'. Malcolm Rae and Dave Parker, those responsible, said afterwards, "We only did it because we knew you'd be able to handle it!". Thanks guys.

As I said already, Harvie was usually in the background, but was well-known for building up his part, always to comic effect. In some other show, he'd decided he would be Quasimodo, but here, he was cast in that role deliberately and given lines. (Quasimodo in Dick Whittington?)  Harvie being Harvie, seized the opportunity with both hands. Thanks to his job as a dental technician, he made himself a fantastic but gruesome set of false teeth, gave himself a hump and a limp, and an eyepatch of course. We made sure he kept away from the youngest kids, of course, as this apparition may have been too much for some of them. All this, for a few puns about bells and being part of the chorus. Since he worked in a hospital, we were scared to ask him where he got the teeth!

Andy Stirrat deserves special mention for enduring hours of black and white makeup and having to scrub his face every night. Needless to say, he was allowed into the shower first!

1986

Mar: Albert by Richard Harris dir. Gaye Dillon and A Phoenix Too Frequent by Christopher Fry dir. Sheila Campbell

Cast, Graeme Robertson, Helen Adam, Isabel Silver 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, dir. Jim Tannock

 

Jim 'stole' this idea off me, as I'd wanted to do it for years! A very long play, about three hours. Terrific strain on the cast.

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Sept: Deathtrap by Ira Levin, dir Isabel Silver

 

 A blurry photo of cast and crew. L-R Wylie Smith, Aileen Craig, David Murdoch, Isabel Silver, derek Murdoch, Jakie Kane, Malcolm Rae, Graeme Robertson, Mary Lindsay, Stuart Kane. For some reason, there a pair of handcuffs dangling above Derek's head!

Not so much a Whodunnit, more of a Howhedunnit, this concerned a failing thriller writer being shown a much better script by a student, telling his wife he'll kill the student and pass the script off as his own, which he apparently does, causing his wife to die of shock. But there's more twists and turns to it than that . . . .  A neat thriller, successful Broadway play and film with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve.

Eccentric licence conditions meant we had to bill it as 'Ira Levin's Deathtrap' (in case anyone confused it with Shakespeare's Deathtrap presumably).

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Dec: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs written/dir. David Parker

  Don't have a cast photo, but we had a colouring competition in the local Press, hence this one. As well as the winners, the photo shows Rosemary Philips, Harvie Smith (this time with less frightening false teeth) Iain Ronald, Peter Munday, Pete Wadley, David Murdoch.

Question - how do you get round the problem of casting the dwarfs? Answer - you ignore the fact that they're supposed to be small people! Well, what kind of Panto would it be if called 'Snow White & the Seven Average-Sized Guys'? (Stop it - that's a different kind of show altogether!!) Anyway, there were loads of other non-traditional characters in it as well.

The panto chorus had always played a part in scene-shifting, and the scene change music was the same every year ('Humbug', a little-known B-side by Emerson Lake and Palmer) so we all knew its jaunty tune well by this time. The Panto set was always the same arrangement of hinged flats, so it was fairly easy for the choreographed dwarfs to effect the changes. Harvie acted as scene change master, directing the others in the turning of flats and the setting of furniture and props, all of them dancing along to the music. Thus, this slightly awkward but neccessary moment became it own feature, and the audience used to join in, clapping along, and laughing at the dwarfs' antics. Often they would get applause of their own!

The evil Queen's magic mirror was a TV screen, on which appeared specially-filmed inserts of Graeme Robertson which Gaye had to synchronise with, though strangely, he's uncredited.

This show ran for twelve perfomances and achieved 97% capacity, a figure many professional theatres would be delighted with. HAC's treasurer certainly was!

1987

Mar: Macbeth by William Shakespeare, dir. Jean Park

  

 

Macbeth was big in every way (Ooh Matron . . ) It was the biggest cast we've had, about 22 or 23. Even stage manage-ment played parts. People were drafted in from everywhere, and I still don't know where some of them came from! This is a photo of some of the cast. On the stairs L-R - Dennis Pate, Kenneth Reilly, Ian Silver, Andy Stirrat, Eric Park. Standing - John Bell, Peter Munday, David Murdoch, Graeme Robertson, Linda McDougal, Martin Smith, me, Jonathon Dakin, Jean Krestoff, Alan Cargill. Kneeling/sitting - Sheila Campbell, Andy Hill, Gaye Dillon, Isabelle Murdoch, Donald Munro, Rosemary Philips. I have other similar pictures which there's just no room for, but I had to include the one of Donald as Banquo's ghost above, showing the fantastic makeup we had (lost count of how many pints of Kensington Gore fake blood we went through!), and for which we received particular praise from audience and Press. It was a long run for a play - 6 nights - but it was totally justified as we'd loads of school parties from all over Ayrshire, and a long rehearsal schedule as well, so many different things to do. There were so many light & sound cues that the tech rehearsal was still going after midnight. Very late in the rehearsal period, a guy appeared out of nowhere, wanting to help out, name of Mark Thompson. We were short of a lighting operator. We said, have you ever operated lights before. He said sort of. We said, you've got the job and bingo, another problem solved. Fine job he made of it too.

As the dressing room became a second home, we thought up things to keep us amused. We put up a notice saying we were going to do a musical version of the play, and asking for song nominations. Amongst the best were 'There Is Nothing Like a Thane', and 'Take Macbeth Away'. Jim T played two parts, ad-libbing in both of them. First he was Duncan the King, arriving at Castle Macbeth with a large entourage. Of course he has lots of dialogue with his retinue and his hosts, and has to address his "worthy cuz". Trouble was, he could never remember WHO was his 'worthy cuz', so he just said it to the general company until somebody reacted. Later on, he was the tipsy servant who answers the knocking on the gates in the middle of the night. His lines were supposed to be interrupted in specific places by knocking, which was done from the other side of the door by SM Eric Park. Jim knew that the knocking would prompt another line, but was always unsure where exactly they came, so he instructed Eric just to knock again if he hadn't said anything for a few seconds. Trouble was, by the time the door got opened, there had been so much knocking it would have wakened the dead, never mind the rest of the household! 

There were lots of spears and banners in the show, which looked great and filled the stage with colour. But they were nine feet tall and the theate's doorways were only six feet. Some members of the cast, despite weeks of reahearsal, never did completely master the art of lowering them just enough to get them off without stabbing walls or the underside of the balcony, or indeed the backside of the poor soul in front!  A genuine touch of Coarse Acting there . . . . 

The most frightening thing happened in the climactic sword fight between Macbeth and me. Graeme and I had started rehearsing carefully and slowly, then gradually built up the speed and violence over the course of rehearsals.  Bear in mind we were using real swords, blunt ones, but metal nonetheless. Eventually, we got it looking pretty good, and perfomed it specially for the rest of the cast because we would be doing the fight on our own during the perfomance. We gie'd it laldy, and had some of them leaping for the exits! On show nights, we did the same, and being so close to the audience, scared the wits out them too! Those in the front row were leaning back in their seats. Anyway, we were both confident and comfortable with what we were doing, until one night, my concentration slipped. As rehearsed, Graeme aimed a blow, I parried it, shoved his sword out of the way, then returned it, but that move was at the wrong time and Graeme wasn't prepared for it. I stopped the blow just before the sword smashed into Graeme's forehead, but I'll never forget his look of terror. The blade was so close to him his eyes were crossed. (Remember, all this only lasted about a second and a half) He had the presence of mind to grab my arm or something and we wrestled a bit, then got back to the rehearsed moves. With the benefit now of more knowledge, the Health and Safety implications of this are horrific, and not just for the audience, but in those days, we just did it!

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June: Plaza Suite by Neil Simon, dir Jim Tannock, Christine Stanley & Donald Munro

 The cast. Standing L-R Jim Tannock (he had started to change after the dress rehearsal and refused to get dressed, so serves you right Jim!), Mark Thompson ?, Jim Greer, Donald Munro.

Seated L-R David Parker, Christine Stanley (at back), Carol Savage, Pat, Susanne Fraser, Graeme Robertson, Sheila Campbell.  

 

Oh all right then, in the absence of a programme, here's one of the crew as well. Standing L-R Andy Hill?, David Murdoch, Rosemary Philips.   Seated Martin Smith, Gaye Dillon, Anne Rossi, Isabelle Murdoch.

This trio of short one-acters, each with a different director, took place in the same suite of the New York Plaza Hotel. The first involved Jim and Sheila's daughter Mimsy (Susanne) on her wedding day, but she refuses to leave her room. They try to talk her out, even involving the hotel staff and her fiance (Dave Parker). Jim's character did a lot of banging on the door and shouting, getting angrier and angrier. He even climbed out the window, which was fully practical for that purpose, and along the 'ledge' outside to try to get into the bedroom. Trouble was, Jim tried to get out of the window FAR too early in the act, and poor Sheila had to starfish herself over the window to prevent him. Eventually, he got the message. He made up for it though, by repeatedly kicking the wall next to the door, smashing the plaster in the process! Although the hole was repaired and repainted, you could clearly see the patch for years afterwards! 

Susanne made only a brief, silent appearance at the end. She's now a pretty successful stand up comedian, and a regular guest on Fred McCauley's morning radio show. Walter Matthau played the three male leads in the Hollywood version.

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Aug: Spearathon

Isabel Silver came up with the idea of a sponsored, fund-raising, marathon, 50-hour non-stop reading of as many of Shakespeare's works as possible. It seemed a mad idea, but so mad that we were sure it would work! And it did. We asked for donations, and some local businesses sent very generous cheques. In return, we put their names and amounts on a big board to show progress, though others wanted to remain anonymous. We all had individual sponsorship forms too. We weren't trying to break any records, we just wanted to keep going from 8pm on a Friday, til 10pm on the Sunday.

To help with publicity, I used my influence to convince actors Robert Trotter and Gwyneth Guthrie to kick off the whole thing by giving a reading, in their Take The High Road characters, from Romeo & Juiliet. Gwyneth lived in Ayrshire, so that wasn't a problem, and Robert only wanted a lift to and from Glasgow, so that was easily arranged too. They threw themselves into it, and were very funny, as in the soap there was always an unspoken 'spark' between their characters. The public was allowed in, on payment of a donation, and we just kept going. We made ourselves comfortable with tables, sofas, a carpet and nice lighting. Tea and coffee and snacks were always available, and most people brought food of their own. I reckon everybody appeared at some point over the weekend. Later we wondered why a lot of us kept going to the loo, until we discovered the coffee that was supplied for us was a chicory blend!

Some brave souls stayed at HAC all through the weekend, crashing out in the bar or the dressing room. Through the night was the worst time, of course, and I'm sure there were times when everybody nodded off for a while. Can't remember how much we raised in the end, but it was hundreds, and more than we'd hope for, definitely worth the effort. As we were clearing up, the biggest spider we've ever seen ran across the floor. It was BIG, and thank God we didn't see it at the start of the weekend! Am I right in saying it bit somebody?

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Oct: Dangerous Corner by JB Priestly, dir. Isabelle Murdoch

 

The cast: Standing L-R Mary Lindsay, Carol Savage, David Parker, Rosemary Philips, Helen Adam.  Seated, Andy Hill, director Isabelle Murdoch, Martin Smith.

 

 

 

 

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Dec: Buck Crusoe in the 25th Century, written/dir. David Parker

  'Buck' was our only science fiction Panto. One of the first big pieces of action was the spaceship crashing onto the stage, with sound effects. This was achieved by ramming the 'ship' through a polystyrene wall. Then the front opened up, and about eight people came out, crawling in unseen from backstage and out the front onto the stage. ". . and the effect was wonderful". It was helped by a bright light blinding the audience from inside the ship, and maybe even a CO2 fire extinguisher ?  You can just make out the front of the ship in the photo.

1988

Mar: The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, dir. Jean Park

Standing L-R Johnny Cadell, Jim Greer, Rod MacCowan, Andy Park, Iain Silver, Stephen Brown, Kenneth Reilly, Dave Woodmore, Assim Khalid, Graeme Robertson, Jim Tannock. Seated, Julie Coombe, Andy Hill, Susanne Fraser, Craig Atkins, Sandra James. 

 

 

 

 This was our second Shakespearean epic, and again we had to spread our net outwith the member-ship to cast it fully. Like Macbeth the year before, it ran for a week to get the school parties.  It was a modern-dress version, the brilliant set being  the two-storey Cafe Rialto, Venice. Before the show started, certain members of the audience were pre-selected to help fill up the tables for the opening scenes, then were escorted to their seats for the rest of the perfomance, a nice touch.

Jim T, ad-libbing as usual, played Old Gobbo, and because he was only in Act 1, tended to go home when he was finished, eschewing his curtain call. Rod MacCowan, on the other hand, only appeared as The Duke of Venice in Act 2, so he didn't arrive at HAC until after Jim had left. This happened all through rehearsals too. On the last night, though, everyone stayed for the usual after-show party. Jim met Rod and asked if he had enjoyed the show. Rod replied yes, but it had been tough doing all the travelling from the far side of Glasgow every night. Jim appeared confused,  saying surely Rod hadn't come to see it every night. Rod said, "Jim, I was in it. I'm the Duke of Venice!"  Dohhh!

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June: Our Town by Thornton Wilder, dir. Andy Baird

  

 

 

 

Some of the cast. Standing L-R Martin Smith, Frank O'Neill, Keith Bayliss, Andy Mitchell. Seated L-R Donald Munro, Kenneth Reilly, Christine Stanley, Isabelle Murdoch, Joan Laughlin, Sheila Campbell, Sandra James, Pete Wadley, Rosemary Philips, Graeme Robertson.

 

 Some of the crew. L-R Malcolm Rae, Carol Savage, Susanne Fraser, Stephen Brown, David Murdoch, Julie Coombe.

Needless to say, I'll always have a soft spot for this play, not just because it turned out 99% of how I 'saw' it. I'd been sitting on the script for years, cos I was unsure if we could carry it off, and I was scared a Scottish audience would only see it as sickly American schmaltz, but most of the cast 'got' it when we started rehearsing, and I was delighted at the outcome. Some very very strong perfomances and the quirky setting marked it as unusual I think. Basically, it detailed the apparently humdrum minutae of a small American town at the turn of the century, and the inevitable progress of life and death, but virtually everything we saw could be translated to our own space and time. I had come across a recording of the original film music by American Classical composer Aaron Copeland so I used a lot of that to, I say modestly, great effect, particularly at the emotional end, prompting quite a few sniffles. Patrick Gordon, HAC's publicity officer, wrote an articulate, positive review (too long to reproduce here) for the local Press, which I still have framed at home.

I could go on, but I won't. Well, just a little. One of the cast, not prone to exaggeration or fancy, told me a strange story a couple of weeks afterwards. During the wedding scene, they had been sitting alone at one end of a bench, as rehearsed. But one night, with an audience present remember, they had a very, very strong impression that someone shuffled up the bench, coming closer and eventually sitting next to them. They looked around, and of course, there was no-one there, and everyone else was where they were supposed to be. I watched all the performances, and I wasn't aware of anything untoward.

There's loads of versions of it on YouTube, most of them pretty awful it has to be said, but there's a good American TV version with Paul Newman here.

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Oct: The Slab Boys by John Byrne, dir. Christine Stanley

 I haven't cropped this photo, in order to show the amazing set. What a mess we made! L-R Graeme Robertson, Jim Greer, Julie Coombe, Helen Adam, Frank O'Neill, Jim Tannock, Donald Munro. In front, Craig Atkins.

This is Patrick Gordon's great review of the show. It says it all, although I'm not sure if we'd be allowed to use a photo like that nowadays!

Slab Boys was a complete and welcome change of subject. It's the first in a trilogy of plays written in the 70's and 80's by John Byrne, author of the acclaimed Tutti Frutti, so it was practically fresh off the page! Eventually, we went on to produce the others in the series, so more of them later.

This is easily one of the funniest plays we ever did, and Graeme and Donald blended together like they were born to the part. But everyone had funny lines, and there were some genuinely comical moments.  An unintentionally funny moment was prompted by - who else - Jim T.  His character, the foreman, was behaving like he was still in the Army, and at one point , had to aim a 'clip' at Donald's ear. Either his aim was out, or Donald didn't duck, (Donald Duck - hahaha!) but the result was a deafening slap right on target that must have had Donald seeing stars. Of course, some moments passed before everyone got their self-control back, but Donald made sure he ducked from then on!

Jim Greer loved a laugh as much as anyone. He was playing the officious, pimply office lad Jack Hogg. Now as we all know, Jim had certain mannerisms and a way of speaking which were attractive, and which - go on, admit it - we still mimic today. He had a scene with Frank O'Neill, playing the new start, Alan Downie, and the scripted line was, "Right then Alan, c'mon we'll huv a recce roon' the rug-works", but of course, with Jim's particular way of pronouncing R's and W's - they tended to come out as V's - this made that otherwise innocuous line quite comical. Graeme and Donald realised that their cheeky characters would never let a line like that pass without comment, so they explained this to Jim and asked his permission to have their characters repeat it the way he'd said it, and make extra laughs out of it. Jim, being the generous and nice person that he was, gave the idea his blessing, so when he said the line, the two boys' characters mimicked it as, "Vight then Alan, we'll huv a vecce voon the vug-vurks". Coupled with Jim's reaction, it got a big laugh.

Julie Coombe, as the object of the boys' lust and with her withering put-downs, proved to be a natural comedy actress. She is now a working actress, and appears regularly on BBC Scotland comedy TV and radio.

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Dec: Robin Hood and His Merry Men by Pete Wadley, dir. Martin Smith 

 

 These two photos are blurred - it's not your eyes!

L-R you may be able to make out Craig Atkins, Carol Savage, Derek Murdoch and Joan Loughlin. Don't know who that is in front. 

 

1989

Mar: Lloyd George Knew My Father by William Douglas Home, dir. Isabel Duff

 

The cast in rehearsal. L-R Jim Greer, Gaye Dillon, Sheila Campbell, Julie Coombe, Derek Murdoch, Mary Lindsay, Leslie Melville, Frank O'Neill.

 

 

 

 

Unusually, I've included a wide shot of the set, as I always thought it was particularly impressive and 'real' looking. The sumptuous red walls helped! A nice twist in the presentation was to have Jim Greer as the butler, usher the audience out of the bar into the theatre, inviting everyone to take their seats to have "coffee with the family". 

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June: The Exorcism by Don Taylor, dir. Andy Baird

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crew. Standing L-R David Murdoch, Dave Lomax, Dave Lindsay. Seated Mary Lindsay, Liz Gilmour ?, Eleanor Fitzgibbon ?, Gaye Dillon.

 

 

The Cast. L-R David Parker, Rosemary Philips, Mike Wright, Christine Stanley.

 The show booked for this slot was A Streetcar Named Desire but pros-pective director Stephen Brown had to cancel. No-one else had anything in mind, so we had a hurried look through French's catalogue, and found this, a ghost story about a remote, ruined and allegedly haunted cottage being rebuilt, no expense spared. But the ghosts of previous occupants who starved to death during bygone times of famine and poverty were still around, and they didn't like this display of excess and waste. Most of the spooky things which happened were by means of suggestion in the script, as it's kinda difficult to do live ectoplasmic manifestations on stage (we tried it for Macbeth!), but the creepy atmosphere was accentuated by the cottage's power going off unaccountably, the use of candles, and having the cast speak in whispers, an idea I pinched from 'Poltergeist'.

I did enjoy creating The Big Final Effect though, where the ghosts come to 'get' them. It was a low roar, building to a terrifying crescendo, partly my vocalisation mixed in with things played backwards and other tweaks. I think there was a slowed-down elephant roar in there somewhere too! I wanted it deafening, so hired the loudest PA system we could afford, and put the big speakers under the seats, so the audience would get the full effect of the stereo image and 'feel' things moving around!

The door in the photo was a real front door, three inches thick, and solid. The characters had to try to batter it down to escape, and I didn't want the slightest wobble. They don't survive, and at the end, the TV comes on by itself with a newsreader announcing the unexplained deaths of four rich people in a remote luxury cottage. It was David Markey, one of STV's continuity announcers, and I borrowed the Scotland Today studio and full crew for half an hour to record it! Cost me a fortune in returned favours, that did . . . . . .

 ---------------------------

Sept: Cuttin' A Rug by John Byrne, dir. Christine Stanley

The  cast. Standing L-R Jim Tannock, Craig Atkins, Donald Munro, Pat, Iain Silver, Isabelle Murdoch, Frank O'Neill, Grame Robertson. Seated, Julie Coombe, Carol Savage.

By the time it came to do this second of the Slab Boys trilogy, we'd already decided and agreed with the cast that we'd complete it the following year. The plays were so good and so successful, we couldn't NOT do it, and we ran this for five nights. This one was set just a few hours after the end of Slab Boys, and the occasion had been referred to constantly throughout. Helen Adam, the original Sadie, was unavailable, so Pat was cast. Sadie was constantly complaining about her feet, hence the written references from the cast on the programme. New characters appeared in the shape of Iain, Isabelle and Carol.

The sets were interesting. Act I was to represent male and female cloakrooms, not really a problem, but Act II was the balcony of Paisley Town Hall, complete with 'stone' balustrade. The changeover took most of the interval, which was why we asked the audience to leave the theatre. There were lots of off-stage effects too - music, cheering, announcements, etc. Many of the off-stage announcements were made by Jim's character. This suited him fine - he could read them off the page!

The wardrobe dept had fun too, having to find posh 50's frocks and suits, so the vintage clothes shops in Glasgow were well plundered!

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Dec: Cinderella by Isabel Duff and Andy Baird from orig script by Jean park, dir. Isabel Duff

Don't remember rewriting this, but that's what the programme says! Here was our second Cinderella, with new characters and situations. It had been seven years since the previous one, so of course, we played to a new audience. These two backstage photos show, on the left, my distant cousin Iain Silver in costume as Hysteria, one of the Ugly Sisters. Clearly, dressing up as ugly women runs in the family, which is a little disturbing.

The other shows Malky fiddling with some sort of electronic equipment, with David Parker and Gary Lindstead looking on. I'll bet that this was taken on the last night of the run. I don't know what he's doing, but he has a look of mischief on his face. Judging by the tech crew's record for springing electronic or explosive surprises on the cast for a joke, this might be evidence that he was up to no good! 

Jim G and Sheila reprised their roles from the first production, albeit with new names. Eric Park and the wonderful Iain Ronald struck up a close friendship as the front and rear ends of the Pantomome cow (in Cinderella? Why not!). At his own request, Iain was 'promoted' to the front end the night his folks were in the audience!

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