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Silchester Players

Back on stage

We are very pleased to announce that, after careful consideration, we have decided to go ahead and return to the stage of Silchester Village Hall for our 2022 pantomime Aladdin. This will be the first on-stage production since Snow White at the beginning of 2020. Because of Covid we will have been away from the stage for almost 2 full years.

We are determined to make a great success of the pantomime which will have all the usual ingredients. However we do not underestimate the challenges along the way. In particular, we are drawing up risk assessments to help protect cast, crew and audience from Covid infection. Inevitably this will mean modifying a number of arrangements. Please watch for reports of how rehearsals are going in future months and of course make a note in your diaries that Aladdin will take place at 7.30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday 14th /15th and 21st/ 22nd January 2022 with 2.30 p.m. matinee performances on the Saturdays.

Although auditions have been and gone, it's not too late to get involved. We are particularly looking for people to join the chorus - to sing or dance or do both at the same time! Please contact Keith Graham ([email protected]) or Clive Solomons ([email protected]) if you would like to be condered. We will also welcome anyone who can help out back stage - building and painting scenery at weekends; scene changing during performances; make-up; costumes; props, front of house, etc.

Radio Play

Our radio play, Alchemy in Three Easy Lessons was broadcast on HHCR, Basingstoke’s Community Radio, on 19th September. If you missed it, you can hear it from our website www.silchsterplayers.org

Prior to the radio broadcast we held an enjoyable outdoor gathering when the recording was played for the first time to cast and crew. The author, John Quinn, lives in Hamble and was able to join us for the occasion. He was delighted to hear his work come to life in a high quality recording.

The play was a radio adaption of the winning entry in the Script Writing competition in the Creative Writing section of the Basingstoke Music and Arts Festival. We collaborated closely with the author and with the outgoing Creative Writing secretary, Mr Tony Corbin. It was a great achievement to bring this project to fruition as there were many difficulties along the way. Having heard about these, Tony Corbin has written a humorous poem charting our progress which we are delighted to share with readers.

A Radio Play Alchemy - in Three Not so Easy Lessons!

Auditions, renditions, we start off apace

Out in the garden to maintain a ‘safe space’.

For radio, the play subtly adapted,

From this task, we cannot be distracted.

Off to the ‘Committee’ for final agreement,

Let us all hope there’s nobody vehement.

Are there royalties? Will budget be exceeded?

We have to proceed, please and un-impeded.

It’s not just the words it is sound effects too

A whistling wind or a shuffling shoe.

Being outside there is also the weather

Sun, tempest and storm, please, not all together.

Over-subscribed, we are quite spoilt for choice

Crew are recruited, plus a cast of good voice.

Yet we wonder, what Covid rules will permit?

Compliance for players we have to transmit.

Track and trace, we have actors isolating

Many more will be so devastating.

A technical rehearsal is soon underway

‘NODA’* monitor, their rules we must obey.

Then there is something that causes us rankle,

Cast member has selfishly broken an ankle!

But we still have a tight schedule to ‘shoot’

Even for the actor clad in a ‘moon-boot’.

Once more into a state of some confusion,

Leading-lady’s PCR test conclusion.

NHS help line rung, (they who regulate),

Double-jabbed and no need to isolate!

The day arrives for the main rehearsals,

Follow running order with no reversals.

It’s a new venue, I can’t remember why,

But our three-hour stint encounters DIY!

The musical score, then the final edit,

Everyone due such enormous credit.

We can now all relax, having come so far

Just enjoy our short play, wherever you are.

Tony Corbin

* NODA - National Operatic and Dramatic Association

We have three activities to report on this month:

1) Alchemy in Three Easy Lessons

Our recording of this radio play by John Quinn is now complete. The stage version having won the script writing competition in the Creative Writing Section of the Basingstoke Music and Arts Festival 2021, the author has skilfully transformed it into an amusing radio drama.

Because of Covid restrictions and the need to observe strict guidelines, all our recordings had to be done outdoors. We planned this over two weekend days, using as our ‘studio’ the well-enclosed garden of one our members. Having leafleted neighbours advising of our plans, we were disconcerted on the first day when some builders chose a crucial moment noisily to unload patio material! No sooner had this ceased than rain started. We rapidly erected a gazebo but could not record because of the sound of rain hitting canvas. When the shower passed we got going again only to encounter unexpected aircraft noise. We appeared to be underneath a flight path for light planes and were frequently disturbed by their droning as well as the deeper noise of higher Heathrow traffic.

On the second recording morning the heavens opens, making any outdoor work with electrical equipment unsafe. We rapidly changed plans and rearranged for the remaining scenes to be recorded one evening. Yet again we were disturbed by aircraft noise and the persistent crepuscular cooing of wood pigeons. However we persevered and have captured sufficient raw material to take forward to the editing process. Our technical director will add sound effects and original music, composed specially by Tony Oliver, completing a high quality production.

We invite everyone to listen Alchemy in Three Easy Lessons when it is broadcast on HHCR Basingstoke’s Community Radio on Sunday 19 September at 2 p.m. To tune in log on to: www.hhcr.org.uk. Thereafter the play will be available on our website: www.silchesterplayers.org.

We are grateful to Spratleys of Mortimer for sponsoring this and our other productions.

2) Aladdin.

As previously reported, we are considering a return to the stage in January 2022 with our pantomime Aladdin. There will be additional challenges if this production can go ahead because we are required to follow the guidance set out by the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) to keep both our members and our audiences safe while there is still a threat from coronavirus. Because we await clarification of what is and what is not possible, we have deferred a final decision until our next committee meeting on 25th August.

If we go ahead auditions are likely to be held on Tuesday 14t.h September As usual they will be open to all comers. If you are interested in joining us, whether as one of the principals, a member of the chorus, or as part of our backstage crew handling props, costumes, scenery, sound or lighting please come along. However firstly remember to check our website: www.silchesterplayers.org for the latest news and full details.

3) Chaperones

As our regular audience members will be aware, a charming feature of our pantomimes is the participation of junior performers. However, what may not be generally known is that we are legally required, for safeguarding purposes, to have a team of chaperones in charge of juniors during dress rehearsals and performances. We are now actively looking for someone to take the role of lead chaperone. This is a very important function which can also be rewarding as it is a pleasure to see the commitment and enthusiasm of younger performers. Anyone interested or requiring further details should contact our secretary Sarah Oliver on [email protected].

Members of Silchester Players recording Alchemy in Three Easy Lessons