Category Archives: News

Summer Newsletter 2016

I hope you are all enjoying this summer weather it is long overdue.

Looking back our spring production, which now seems long past, was a very successful “Will You Still Love Me In The Morning”.  This was directed by Lawrence Chandler, and this play introduced Alistair Burn, treading the GDC boards for the first time, as well as two new members, Melissa Rawlings and Jo Leversuch, helping back stage.

For a while we have talked about the possible effects of the Darlington road closure on ticket sales. It does seem to have had an effect, as the last two plays, both were on after the road was reopened, showed a significant improvement in seat occupancy, at 84 and 91 % respectively.

One of the most significant recent changes at the club is that we have obtained new seats for the theatre. Due to the refurbishment at the Darlington Civic we had the opportunity to purchase 100 seats from them, which we duly took, and they are now installed. The old seats we removed had all been sponsored and we have saved the name plates, and had them framed to form part of the Club`s history.  We are selling the old seats, so, if you know of anybody who might like to have any number of them, please let me know.  We are just asking for a donation.

To help defray the costs of the new seats and their installation, we are asking for sponsorship for the new seats.  The cost will be £25 per seat and name plates will be attached.

Please, if you wish to sponsor a seat, or two, please let me know by e mail at: or on 01325 733138 .

The Club has been disappointed in the lack of members attending social events over the last year.  Our Social Secretary spends a lot of time in organising these events, so please come along and support your club.

The autumn production will be “Spring and Port Wine”, by Bill Naughton, directed by my wife, Ronnie.  The cast has been chosen, and again, we have a new member taking part. The dates of the play are from 23rd – 26th November, 30th Nov – 3rd December.

We also have directors in place for the next two plays for 2017.  Maria Lowcock for the spring production, and Allan Jones, who would like to try a small summer production.  More about these plays later on.

I think that is all the news for now.


Newsletter September 2015

Hope you all had a good summer and hopefully found some sun.

The next production for autumn has now been cast and rehearsals start next week. The play will be “The Game’s Afoot” by Ken Ludwig, a comedy mystery which won the Edgar Allen Poe Award as the best mystery play in 2012.  Tom Brown is making his directing debut and cast includes, Allan Jones, Iris Hillery, Lawrence Chandler, Maria Lowcock, Jo Longstaff, Michelle Hope, Ronnie Lowery and newest member, Aiden West.  It will run between 18th and 28th  November and once again the first Saturday will be a matinee performance.   As usual, your help is needed, just let us know if you’re willing to assist backstage, front of house, set building, etc.

Looking ahead we need to put in place the directors for the next two 2016 plays so if you would be willing to direct either the Spring or Autumn productions, please contact Ronnie or myself.  This is open to any member so please have a think about it and let us know.

We now have  a new social secretary, Michelle Hope, and she is in need of your talent for the club’s social event a Talent Night on 16th October so please don`t hide it come and strut your stuff.  Let Michelle know if you would like to perform, or just come along for the night and enjoy the talent, your support is needed either way.

Plans for next year, we are hoping to refurbish the theatre with new seating when the Darlington Civic Theatre carry out their major improvements and, hopefully, once again we can purchase their old seating.  For this reason we will be selling programmes again to help boost the coffers!  We would also like to obtain sponsors for the programmes so if any members have contacts please let us know.

I hope this will put you in the picture as to our Club’s plans and, don’t forget we do need to hear from you all with your ideas, suggestions, offers of help etc.

Best wishes

John Lowery


Blithe Spirit our spring production, directed by Alan Jones, was a great success and saw the introduction of several new members.  On stage we had two new members making their debut for the club, Michelle Hope and Jo Longstaff, and backstage Aiden West and Rob Smith.  They all proved to be great assets to the Club during the production.  The Saturday matinee again proved to be very popular, overall we had 565 people who watched the play, and judging from the many comments, thoroughly enjoyed it.

The autumn production will be directed by Tom Brown and play readings have already started to help Tom choose a play.  The next play reading will be on Monday 11th May,7.30 pm, in the Green Room.    

Iris Hillery is planning a Talent Night as a club social event on Friday 9th October.   We know we have many talented people in the Club so please don`t “hide your light under a bushel” come and “strut your stuff”.

We are trying hard to publicise the Club and its activities via social media adding to our existing website.   We have now added Facebook pages, one for members only and an open page to get our message out there, so please have a look at them and contribute them. 


We have been approached to see if the club would wish to join in a festival.  An extract from an e- mail is as follows:-

 “We are currently working towards setting up a festival in the area and wondered if this might be of interest?  As well as our own two productions (COSI FAN TUTTE and the rock musical – ! – BEOWULF), which we would love people to join, the main idea is for any groups and other performers to put on shows under the umbrella of the Festival: drama groups/comedians/orchestras/dance schools…  Perhaps groups have performed i n their local villages and could do a ‘swop’ with others; thereby getting extra enjoyment out of their hard work and doubling entertainment opportunities for their audiences.

The Festival will take place over the first two weeks of August (in the hope that should it be something people enjoyed sufficiently to want to do it again, perhaps we could tempt visitors to Edinburgh to make a detour – thinking ahead a little!)”

If anybody thinks this is a good idea for the Club to take part at this festival, please let me know.

Gainford Big Weekend, in June, are having a scarecrow competition.  It might be fun if we created a Drama Club scarecrow (could we put it outside the Theatre?).  Would anyone be up for helping produce one?   Please let we know.

Well that’s all for now!


Play Readings

In order to decide on our Spring production we will be undertaking a couple of play readings in the Green room of the Academy Theatre on Monday, 8th December.

Allan Jones will be directing the spring production, play and dates to be arranged, so he will need to know who will be available.  If you would like to be considered for a part in the next play but can’t make the reading, please let me or Allan know.

Also, the following Monday (15th), same time and place, we are having our Christmas get-together, with a play reading, mulled wine and mince pies.  Again, let us know if you can’t make it!

If you are interested and would like to become involved with Gainford Drama Club, why not contact us and come along.


The committee would like to invite all our members to come along on the 4th September at 8pm, (after the comm.meeting), to discuss the possibility of producing a third play end of January/February 2015.  As we now have lots of new members we are keen to keep up interest and get everyone involved.  The idea would be to cast a play end of October.

We need your thoughts on this so please come along.  Let me know if you can’t make it but would like to be involved.

Summer News

At the recent AGM our chairman gave a summary of the club year. Several play readings had been held, all with very good attendances, which resulted in two successful productions being staged, An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, abridged and directed by our chairman and 3 one-act plays from Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 series directed by Allan Jones.  There were good houses for both productions and all new members who had joined during the year were able to make their acting debuts.

Several social events had been held during the year culminating in our President’s 90th birthday party held in the theatre and attended by many past and current members. Enid Burdon has been a member since the inception of the club in 1949 and is still a great supporter.

The chairman had made good progress in updating the mailing list and intended to continue with the responsibility of sending out the forms, both postal and electronic.   She thanked Richard Stephenson and Viv and Mike Brown for their work in printing and dealing with the forms and the tickets and Allan Jones for his work in setting up and maintaining the website. Paul Richardson presented his financial report for the year which had been audited by David Maughan and they were both thanked for their contribution.

Play readings were being held in The Green Room, the next one being on Monday 30th June and new members would be made very welcome.  The next production to be staged at the end of November would be directed by Lawrence Chandler and Fiona Minay and it was intended that a casting meeting would be held before the summer holidays with rehearsals commencing at the beginning of September.

It was noted that the Spring Production next year would be our 150th, the longevity of the club is a splendid achievement not possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of members.

In conclusion our chairman thanked the officers and committee for their help and support during the three years of her chairmanship and handed the meeting over to the incoming chairman John Lowery.


Spring News

Rehearsal are underway for our spring production.  Our director for this production, Allan Jones, has chosen three one-act plays from Noel Coward’s series Tonight at 8.30 although it has to be noted that we shall be starting the performance at 7.30 p.m. prompt!

You can read a brief synopsis of the plays on our What’s On page.  Ticket application forms will be sent out during the next few weeks and a link to the form will be appearing on the website.

The three plays are quite different and will give our actors the opportunity to show their range and abilities and for four new members to make their debuts.

We are very pleased to announce that our President and founder, Enid Burdon, will be celebrating her 90th birthday during the Spring production and we shall be asking friends and members to join us in the celebration after the performance on Saturday 5th April.  If you are a former club member and would like to attend the party please make sure you book your tickets for that night and join us afterwards – we shall be very pleased to see you.

Joan Hillery Robinson

GDC Chairman

6th February 2014

Autumn News 2013

Rehearsals are well underway for our autumn production An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde.  This has been abridged for the drama club by our Chairman Joan Hillery Robinson who is also the director and producer.  Oscar Wilde may have approved of this as he said himself that he thought the play too long.  It is a witty story of romance, insider trading and scandal and was extremely popular with Victorian and Edwardian audiences running for over a hundred performances.

Many of the themes of An Ideal Husband were influenced by the situation Oscar Wilde found himself in during the early 1890s.  The play is about a hidden scandal, blackmail and the inability of a man to share his faults and failings with his wife.  Wilde’s own life with his wife Constance, seems never very far from the play.

The enduring popularity of the play is undoubtedly down to its wit and humour.  Wilde cleverly emphasises the hypocrisy of society, minor characters are an important vehicle for this theme constantly portrayed as two-faced, saying one thing one moment the turning round to say the exact opposite (to great comic effect).  For example, Lord Caversham exclaims near the end of the play that Mabel displays a great deal of common sense after earlier stating that ‘common sense is the privilege of our sex’.

The narrative of the play focuses on political corruption, the story of scandal in the life of a politician and the threat of press exposure is a theme which has had relevance in every decade over the last hundred years and will doubtless continue to do so.

October 2013



Hello everyone

I hope you have had a good weekend in spite of the cold weather.  I just wanted to give you some dates for your diary and remind you that tickets for Murder in Play by Simon Brett are going quickly now but there are still plenty left for the first night, the 18th April, when patrons can meet the cast and enjoy a glass of fizz following the performance.  There are also some tickets available for the last night, Saturday 27th April, so if you would like to attend the party which will again be held at John and Ronnie’s in Winston then send in your form or contact Viv or Mike.  Jan is providing the food for the party so you do not need to bring anything – just make a donation on the night.

We should like to thank Richard Stephenson for printing all the ticket application forms, over 500.  We are in the process of slimming down the mailing list and this time just over 100 forms were sent by email asking subscribers to link to the website and download the form – our thanks to Allan Jones for setting this up, effectively saving us at least £50 in this one mailing.  After the autumn production it is our intention to delete names from the list of those subscribers who have not ordered tickets for three consecutive productions unless they contact us to request otherwise.  They will be advised about this in the next mailing.

I have been busy editing Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband for the drama club as I should very much like to produce this play.  It is about political corruption so it is always topical!  It is now ready for a reading so I propose that we do this at John and Ronnie’s in Winston on Monday 20th May, starting prompt at 7.30 p.m.  Please come along if you can, drinks and sandwiches will be provided.

The other date you should note in your diary is the 2013 AGM which will be held on Thursday 20th June at 7.30 p.m. in the Academy Theatre.  Notices will be sent out by email to you and we shall be seeking two new committee members as Diana Peat and John Robinson will be retiring by rotation – nomination forms will be issued with the notice.

Don’t forget that our year end finishes on 31st May and subscriptions for the year 2013/14 are due in June – our treasurer will be collecting your subscriptions at the AGM but, if you have not already done so, the easiest way to ensure continued membership is to complete a standing order mandate – subscriptions remain at £5 per annum.

Many thanks

Joan Hillery-Robinson

Gainford Drama Club Chairman

Easter Newsletter


Hello everyone

This is to keep you up to date with what is happening in the club. As you know we are presenting our Spring production Laying the Ghost by Simon Williams and opening night is not very far away now, the 18th April so I hope you have your tickets booked.

We are considering staging ‘Allo ‘Allo by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft for our Autumn production. This is a play based on the hugely popular TV series and will require as many acting members as possible to be available so I am planning to have a reading of the play on Tuesday 1st May in the Green Room starting at 7.15 p.m. – drinks and sandwiches will be available and I hope that if you are interested in acting in this production you will be able to come along. If you cannot get there on that particular night but would like to be considered for a part then I should appreciate it if you could contact me, either by email or by telephone (see below) as we shall have to make a decision as to whether it is possible to cast this play (there are some non-speaking parts) if not then we shall start to look for something else. The planned dates for the production are the last two weeks of November, the last night would be Saturday 1st December.

‘Allo ‘Allo will be great fun to stage (also a challenge) as it provides plenty of opportunities for dressing up and silly accents. I saw RADS do this a few years ago and it was hugely funny and they did it extremely well.

Please make sure that you have made a note in your diary of our next social event to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – the afternoon of Sunday 10th June at Headlam Hall, further details will follow.

Allan Jones has been busy updating our website so please take a look at:

Many thanks
Joan Hillery-Robinson
Gainford Drama Club Chairman