North London Actors

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North London Actors

June

Our first event this month was a Circle Reading of ‘Juno and the Paycock’ by Sean O’Casey. Member Milli Innila had this to say about the event. ‘I had only read one of Seán O’Casey’s plays, ‘The Plough and the Stars’, before but do remember having taken an instant liking to how O’Casey seemed to view the world, the society and the people in it yet find such humour even in the midst of misery – ‘Juno and the Paycock’ was no different experience. I often easily loose focus, but would have had no such problem with this play even if I’d just sat home reading it. The characters were believable and well layered, authentic human beings – the same can be said about the story.

The reading was also well lead: everyone got to participate and the parts were shifted in intervals that felt suitable. We had a good group of people attending – and they were not few but not too many either. I find these evenings a good way to keep sharpening my cold reading skills and often get to read plays I would otherwise not have even known of. A good Irish-flavoured evening it was with ‘Juno and the Paycock’!’

This month’s semi-staged rehearsed reading was a production of ‘The Bear in the Forest’ held on Wednesday 26th June. It was a piece of new writing written by member Monty Holender (http://www.actorsandwriters.org/monty.holender/index.php), who had this to say ‘I wrote The Bear in the Forest a few years ago, and it received warm words from Thea Sharrock, but this was the first time it had been performed. So for me it was almost like seeing a new play. The 4 hour (yes that’s right, just 4 hours) rehearsal had gone well but on the morning of the show, Mary Drake playing one of the main roles had to pull out because of lariingytis. After a panicky morning we secured the services of Helen Cashin to step in. Mary had been great in rehearsal and Helen was astonishing in performance, especially in showing the skill that underlies our rehearsed readings, namely that of sight reading. Which incidentally is exactly the skill required in auditions. And here was a perfect example of it.
As for the performance, I was thrilled that I had left enough space in my writing for the actors and director to bring their input to the play which they absolutely did. There were some lovely performances. I had been interested having heard of a massacre that happened at a battle in the civil war and the idea of archaeologists uncovering the secrets of the past. For some reason, and I’m not sure writers ever know exactly what happens in the creative process, I started to think of massacres that happened during the second world war in Eastern Europe. Throw in the idea of a loving grandfather who turns out to have a dark side and the link between the present and the past in the lives and relationships of the archaeologist started to form.

I enjoyed writing it and it was a real pleasure to see it come to life under the skilled direction of Michael Murray and the talented cast. comprising Mike Duran, Joel Dyer, Emma Manley, Edmund Dehn and Marian Elizabeth. I even enjoyed the Q&A afterwards.’

The best way to see what we do is come along to one of our events. July’s events are: a Circle Reading of ‘The Stepmother’ by Githa Sowerby on Monday 8th July at 7.30pm and a performance of A Series of Chekhov shorts on Wednesday 24th July at 7.30pm. All events are held at The Oak and Pastor, 86 Junction Road, N19 5QZ (Nearest tube Archway. 10 minutes from Upper Holloway Overground. Bus 134 or 390, Pemberton Gardens bus stop. Parking in the area free after 6.30 pm.)

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North London Actors – May

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North London Actors

MAY

May’s Circle reading was ‘Billy Liar’ by Keith Waterhouse. ‘Billy Liar’ is a 1959 novel by Keith Waterhouse, which was later adapted into a play, a film, a musical and a TV series. The semi-comical story is about William Fisher, a working-class 19-year-old living with his parents in the fictional town of Stradhoughton in Yorkshire. Bored by his job as a lowly clerk for an undertaker, Billy spends his time indulging in fantasies and dreams of life in the big city as a comedy writer. In 1960, the novel’s author, Keith Waterhouse, co-wrote a three-act stage version with Willis Hall. The action took place on a single set combining the living room, hallway and porch of the Fisher household. The first production opened in the West End of London with Albert Finney in the title role. It has since been produced all over the world, and has become a favourite with amateur groups.
It was led by Gareth Pilkington, who said ‘The Billy Liar reading was fun. With a total of eight readers it could have been read one to a part but the parts were so unequal that I changed them around every four or five pages. I believe everyone got a fair crack of the whip (so to speak). The reactions to the piece were mixed. Although everyone thought the characters were very entertaining some thought it dated, others felt the resolution was unsatisfactory, but accepted much more could be done in a properly directed and staged performance. The purpose of readings is of course mainly to help people with their sight-reading skills in plays of all periods. It is also designed to expand awareness so that if going for auditions one is able to speak of different pieces and make comparisons without making a fool of oneself. It served these purposes very well.’

May’s performance was of ‘The New Woman’ by Sydney Grundy on Wednesday 29th May. Sydney Grundy (23 March 1848 – 4 July 1914) was an English dramatist. Most of his works were adaptations of European plays, and many became successful enough to tour throughout the English-speaking world. He is, however, perhaps best remembered today as the librettist of several comic operas, notably Haddon Hall.
The New Woman (1894) is a largely forgotten so-called ’emancipated woman’ play. There was a trend towards the end of the 19th century for this subject to be the plot driver of many a piece, many of which were written by women. Of the ones we’ve been able to get hold of, this one is probably the most entertaining, whilst avoiding the usual pitfalls of becoming too much like a diatribe or serving only as a vehicle for the ‘message’. At the time, women were still regarded as home-keepers. They were ‘unfeminine’ if they tried to step out of this role and were regularly satirised. A couple of lines from one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas sums up the male view: “A woman’s college? Maddest folly going. What can girls learn within those walls worth knowing?/I’ll lay a crown, the Princess shall decide it, I’ll teach them twice as much in half an hour outside it.” The position has changed somewhat here but there are other countries and creeds that still hold these the same beliefs, even in western society.

The performance was directed by Kenn Michaels. Regular acting member Edmund Dehn (http://www.edmunddehn.com) had this to say “This month’s staged reading was “The New Woman” by Sydney Grundy – a late nineteenth century play about Suffragettes written by a man: I can hear the snorts from here! To an extent they’d be justified: all of these ladies are portrayed as ‘secretly needing a man’ and there is an element of caricature. But there is also an attempt to understand the Suffragette case and a valuable insight into the turmoil of the time and the sense of dislocation felt by conservatives (of both genders) confronted by this campaign. Some reactions reminded me a little of myself as a young man trying to work out how to react to Women’s Lib in the ‘70s!
Sydney Grundy is a name I’d never heard of. But in his day, “no West End season was complete without one of his plays”, according to director Kenn Michaels. This was a well-made play with well drawn characters. The plot held it’s audience’s attention and the comedy still worked – not bad after more than a century! We were also treated to a tour-de-force by Dorothea Philips as Lady Wargrave, or Lady Bracknell redivivus! Indeed, this play was first staged the year before “The Importance of Being Earnest” and the rumour is that Oscar Wilde drew inspiration for Lady Bracknell from this character.
The house wasn’t full, which is a shame because both play & author were well worth another look. This is the sort of thing NLA was formed to do, this and to give young actors a chance to learn on the job, which they did, very ably, and I think I can say that the audience enjoyed their evening.
In closing, I have to mention that one actor was late for curtain-up. If it weren’t for the fact that he was playing the Butler, I wouldn’t dream of referring to it. This actor was detained, through no fault of his own, due to being “kettled” by the police at Wembley tube station, having got caught up in the friendly International between England & Ireland that evening. A Victorian Butler “kettled” at Wembley? You couldn’t make it up!”
The best way to see what we do is come along to one of our events. June’s events are: a Circle Reading of ‘Juno and the Paycock’ by Sean O’Casey on Monday 10th June at 7.30pm and a performance of ‘The Bear in the Forest’ by Monty Holender on Wednesday 26th June at 7.30pm. All events are held at The Oak and Pastor, 86 Junction Road, N19 5QZ (Nearest tube Archway. 10 minutes from Upper Holloway Overground. Bus 134 or 390, Pemberton Gardens bus stop. Parking in the area free after 6.30 pm.)

North London Actors

NORTH LONDON ACTORS

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North London Actors

JANUARY

January is traditionally a quiet month for North London Actors, so to get the actors and audience interested we decided to make it Shakespeare month. After doing a poll in our Facebook group as to what our members favourite plays were, most people put a Shakespeare play, so we thought a Shakespeare month would draw people in.

Our first event of the year was a Circle Reading on Monday 7th January, and because of the date we chose Twelfth Night. Due to a problem with our usual venue the reading was moved from it’s usual day of Monday to Tuesday 8th. It was led by Gareth Pilkington. Circle readings aim to provide our members with means to practise sight reading and also discover plays. Everyone who turns up at a Circle Reading will be given the chance to read, and parts are given out equally so everyone gets a fair go. Twelfth Night proved to be a popular choice and we had a good turnout despite the weather.

North London Actors host two events a month, the first is the Circle Reading and the second is a semi-staged, script-in-hand performance. This month it was Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ directed by Michael Murray. It required a large cast and gave many members the opportunity to practise their verse reading skills. Rehearsals were held at the flat of one of our members on Sunday 20th January from 12-6pm, and lunch was provided. Despite the snowy conditions many actors battled their way to Finchley for rehearsals. Due to peoples’ availability and the many scenes and actors needed, director Michael Murray rehearsed the play slightly out of sequence, with a recap of the more trickier scenes at the end of the rehearsal.

The performance was on Wednesday 23rd January at the Oak & Pastor in Archway. 17 actors arrived and were ready to perform the show. The audience arrived and we had a grand total of 3! As is always the case in January we are at the mercy of the weather and the post-Christmas slump. However the cast went on and produced a fine performance, which was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. After the show everyone moved downstairs to the bar in the Oak & Pastor and had a well deserved drink!

Further details of North London Actors can be found at

www.northlondonactors.co.uk or in our Facebook group. If you are interested in joining us please email membership@northlondonactors.co.uk for details. Annual membership is £5 and gives reduced price entry into our performances: currently £3 for members and £5 for non-members. Circle readings are normally free for members and £2 for non-members.

The best way to see what we do is come along to one of our events. February’s events are: Circle Reading of ‘Loyalties’ by John Galsworthy on Monday 4th February and a performance of ‘The Colleen Bawn’ by Dion Boucicault on Wednesday 20th February. All events are held at The Oak and Pastor, 86 Junction Road, N19 5QZ(Nearest tube Archway. 10 minutes from Upper Holloway Overground. Bus 134 or 390, Pemberton Gardens bus stop. Parking in the area free after 6.30 pm.)