You were involved with the Players quite a long time ago. What sort of things did you do?
I started initially when I was in my teens. I got involved with the sound system in the Barn, so that must have been 1977/8. I used to get involved with the set building as well.
You’ve been on stage for us several times as well haven’t you?
Yes, I was in Waters of the Moon, Under Milk Wood, Dancing at Lughnasa, You’re only Young Once, Guards!Guards!, and Catherine Howard. I acted alongside my son in Dancing at Lughnasa, a good thing to do.
You’ve been away from acting for a while because of work commitments. Are you enjoying being back?
Oh yes, and I like the play Summer End. There are some lovely bits in it and it’s good for a laugh. It’s quite close to home life too – thinking of my mother-in-law, I could almost have written the lines! I suppose at least that makes learning the lines a bit easier!
Are rehearsals going well?
They are, yes, and my fellow-actors are a good bunch. We’re starting to gel together well and have a good feel for the play.
Any particular challenges?
Yes – this will be the first time I’ve done a matinee, so that will be interesting!
You’re a newcomer to the Abbots Langley Players aren’t you? How did you get involved?
I had a message from a friend in the King’s Langley Review Company who’d heard about the play. I read the script, auditioned – and here I am!
Have you been involved in many plays? What sort of characters have you taken on?
It’s been a good number of years since I last did a play, but I have been in a couple of farces more recently, which I enjoy immensely. The last one was “Run for your Wife”. I’ve been more involved in ‘variety’, song and dance, comedy and panto. When I moved to Spain in ’98 I joined a large showgroup that performed for charity. I did over 100 shows with them, usually with large audiences, but strictly as an amateur.
In Summer End, you play the part of May. Who is she and what is she like?
May is a middle class lady who finally realises that she has been dumped in a retirement home. She has a highly nervous character which leads to her being taken advantage of by other people. It’s an enjoyable part as I like the emotions edged with dry humour.
Apart from Drama, what sort of interests and hobbies do you have?
They are many and varied. I joined a Community Choir; I love easy walking in the countryside (I used to ‘adventure walk’ in Spain, – that’s rough tracks, taking on caves and rocks or whatever you come across); I go to the gym; I enjoy craft activities; I’m a support volunteer for Homestart; and more…
Q People have been enjoying your performances for some time now. How many plays have you done for the Players now?
A I’ve been in over 100 plays for ALP. My first one was Relative Values by Noel Coward in 1965.
Q Have you played for other Companies?
A Before joining ALP I belonged to the Brow Theatre Group for eight years.
Q What would you say was your favourite out of all those, and which was the most difficult?
A With so many wonderful parts it’s very difficult to choose, but I would have to say the Shell Seekers. Another favourite was Oberon in Midsummer Night’s Dream. The most demanding one was Kindertransport.
Q Is there any character or type of play you’d like to take on in the future?
A I do love comedies, but I would really like to act in another Shakespeare play.
Q You must have seen some significant changes in the world of acting over the years?
A Yes, people don’t seem to enjoy acting so much today. We had so much fun years ago and it really came over across the footlights. Audiences knew we were enjoying ourselves and they responded, sometimes shouting out, clapping and, of course, laughing.
Q Tell us about the character you’re playing in Summer End. Are you enjoying it?
A My character, the manager of the retirement home, is not a very nice character at-all. I seem to get to play a lot of not very nice characters – is someone trying to tell me something? After an absence from acting for a couple of years I’m finding it hard to learn it again, but I always enjoy it.
Q As well as acting you’ve directed a number of plays. Which ones do you feel most satisfied about?
A I loved directing Acrington Pals and Our Country’s Good. I was very lucky to have an excellent cast for both.
Interview with Brian Hibberd, Publicity Director, Summer End
Eric Chappell’s murder mystery set in the ‘Summer End’ retirement home.
Emily and May are reluctant residents in the care home “Summer End”. Both feel that their families don’t really want them. The manageress, Mrs. Lang, is trying hard to cope, not really helped by care assistant Sally’s somewhat hostile attitude.
To complicate matters, Emily’s previous room-mate Bella has died unexpectedly, and Bella’s sapphire ring is missing. Was she murdered for her money and possessions? Is this a conspiracy involving a member of staff and another resident? Probably not, but Emily is convinced that Bella didn’t just die of old age.
The problem is, not only does no-one else believe this, but also both Mrs. Lang and Emily’s son Alan think that Emily has memory problems and possibly also dementia.
However, why did Bella have bruises on her face when she was found? What has happened to her sapphire ring? And how can Sally afford to pay so much for her fitted kitchen on a care assistant’s meagre pay?
Who knew all this went on in a care home? Come and see this comedy with much darker moments and find out what else is going on!
Jean James, Director
Some excerpts from the above from Sally-Anne Rafferty on the recent production…
‘First things first, I wasn’t sure if I was looking forward to the play, knowing that it was a study of hostages during the Lebanon Hostage crisis of the 1980’s ….’
‘The production could have been a painful and tedious portrayal of the men’s experience, but I am pleased to report that Sylvia Poole, the director, managed to make it so much more, bringing humour and an intimacy to the situation making us feel like we were spying on the private moments shared by the men during those dark times.’
‘It was an inspired decision to play it in the round. We were presented with a raised platform framed by some rather effective looking brickwork at the corners to give us the effect of the cell walls yet still revealing the illusion of the staging.’
‘The actors were all extremely well cast and all of them were very accomplished in retaining their focus in the round setting – not an easy feat I know, with the audience so close and visible around them. I honestly can’t highlight one performance over another – they worked together throughout the piece as a very effective team.’
‘Overall I found it a very touching and moving play, which was very well done indeed.’
‘More of this please ALP.’
How many plays have you done with Abbots Langley Players? (What was your first play?)
I’ve done over 50 plays now with ALP. The first one was as the doctor who, amongst other things, did a pig puppet play in Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Seasons Greetings’.
What sort of audience reaction do you expect? Is it a tough play for the audience?
I anticipate a mixture of emotions including shock, laughter and tears. It will be an absorbing play, serious and thoughtful but with moments of good fun. It is a bit demanding for any audience as they watch the way three men would react to each other in such a stressful situation. Some of the labguage and some of the actions reflected on are not what most of us would normally want to entertain. We’ve spoken about ‘adult language’. I prefer to call it ‘childish and immature language’!
Can you say a bit about the character you play? How do you relate to him? What are his strengths?
Michael is a rather pedantic academic with a ‘Brian Sewell’ approach to conversation! He has experienced tragedy in his life and has become something of a loner. He tends to live in a fantasy world of ancient literature, from which he gains great comfort. There is an inner strength in him which is brought out when life deals him its hardest blows. I’m enjoying playing him because some aspects of his character are not a million miles from my own – though I leave you to decide which!
The play’s first production was 25 years ago and it’s about things that happened 30 years ago – how is it relevant today?
People are still taken hostage and live under the threat of execution. The hugely significant change from 30 years ago is the rise of religious militant fanaticism. People are now more likely to be taken as hostages in the Middle East to perversions of religious faith and dogma rather than for political or financial reasons.
Why should people come and see it?
Because it’s a good, well-written play and there’s some cracking good acting!
You’ve been acting for a few years now – are there any plays you still want to appear in?
Either a Morse-type detective play or a love story which illustrates that love and all its associations are not just for the young!