Play reading 2nd May

The next play reading will be a reading of Sex, Drugs & Rick and Noel by David Tristram, in the green room at the Settlement at 8.00pm on Wednesday 2nd May.
Jo will be directing this play in November for our Autumn production but this is NOT an audition, just a reading of the play. It may, however, give you an idea of what it’s about and whether or not you’d like to audition when the time comes.

If you are new to the Players but would like to be come along or would like more information, then please email contact@settlement-players.org.uk

Ghost Train Rehearsals Underway

This week saw the first rehearsals of The Ghost Train by Arnold Ridley, Directed by Cliff Francis.

This mystery thriller tells the story of six passengers stranded at a remote Cornish Railway station late one evening during a storm, and being forced to spend the night in the station waiting room. Then the stationmaster recounts the local tale of old Ted Holmes walking the platform as the Ghost Train screams through.

Performance dates are 14 – 16th June 2018, and the show is part of the Letchworth Festival which runs for the last two weeks of June.

Tickets available from the Box Office

Proud to be part of the Letchworth Festival

Blog about the Settlement

With the popular Dial M for Murder now finished and the mystery thriller Ghost Train not due to arrive until June at Fal Vale station, here is a blog to read while you sit in the waiting room………

Settlement chair, Pam Burn, who shares her thoughts about the past and present times of Letchworth Settlement in her latest blog for the Heritage Foundation.

Tell us something of the history of Letchworth Settlement?

When people ask me why is Letchworth so special I am quick to respond. It’s because of its unique combination of special buildings and rich social history.

We are fortunate not only to live in the world’s first garden city but to have places like Letchworth Settlement which first saw the light of day in 1920.

It was one of a number of Settlement Houses established around the country from the 1880s onward. The original idea for their formation began in the 1860s when a group of reformers sought to bring the poor working class into contact with other classes and bridge what they saw as the worsening social divide in Britain.

The first Settlement workers were Oxbridge graduates who ‘lived in’ and tried to bring the culture of university life to those who had no such experiences. The first purpose-built Settlement House was Toynbee Hall in London, which is still active today and indeed is where Graham Fisher was CEO before taking the helm of the Heritage Foundation. I love the way the links with social history and equality continue to the present day.

In 1925 the Letchworth Settlement moved into what had been The Skittles Inn (more famously known as ‘the pub with no beer’). The building was designed by Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin and is now a Grade II listed property. It was purchased by the Letchworth Adult Educational Settlement and owned by them until 1995 when financial difficulties forced the Trustees to take the difficult decision to gift the building to the Letchworth Heritage Foundation in return for a peppercorn rent.

The first Settlement Warden in Letchworth in the early 1920s was James Dudley whose portrait can be seen over the fireplace in the Brunt Room of the Settlement.

James lived in a small flat on the second floor, as did his successors until the last Warden, Roy Evans, who raised his young family there from his arrival in 1963 until he moved to a house he bought directly opposite the Settlement in 1976. The upstairs was then converted to classrooms, office, loo and storage for the Settlement Players costumes and props.

Ebenezer Howard reopened the Settlement in 1925 with a speech delivered in Esperanto which those of us of a certain age will recall was touted as the future international language, but few people under the age of 60 has heard of today! Howard and George Cadbury were Trustees on the first Board of the Settlement.

In the early 1950s, William Wallace Kincaid, Director of the Spirella Company left money to the Settlement to enlarge the Main Hall to allow a proper stage and behind the scenes facilities to be constructed and this opened in 1956. In 1975 a purpose built Craft building was added to the rear of the main building, paid for by the Letchworth Garden City Corporation. Today, Letchworth Settlement is one of the very last of its kind still in operation as it was almost 100 years ago. Our aim is to keep it that way!

So how are you planning to do that?

Well, we have expanded our horizons quite a bit in the past three years. We have always run lots of long courses – languages, arts and crafts, academic courses of all kinds and these remain the core of our work. But over the past three years we have embarked on a number of short courses and workshops which recognise the needs of modern families with limited time availability. So we now do silver jewellery making, ikebana, glass fusion, party baking for children’s parties, flower arranging of all kinds, encaustic wax painting, creative writing workshops and more!

We have also developed a new programme which we call our ‘Twilight Talks’ where we invite someone from an interesting and unusual background to come along and give a talk on their specific subject area. So far we have had, among others, the former Director of MI6, the great granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, the Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum and a leading heart surgeon from Papworth who also happens to be a world authority on the anatomical drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, oh and a former member of the Royal Household who discreetly leaked a few interesting titbits! In the year ahead we shall have one of the original Concorde pilots, Bridget Kendall (the former BBC Moscow Correspondent and well known R4 voice), Helen Pankhurst launching her new book at the Settlement, to name just a few.

We receive absolutely no grants from anywhere and we are on a full Repair and Maintenance lease with the Foundation so we have to ensure we put funds away to meet all the requirements of our lease which are significant for a Grade II listed property. Plus of course we have to constantly upgrade and improve facilities so as to continue to be able to offer new and exciting ideas to would be students. We have always sought to keep our fees at reasonable levels so that our courses and activities are as accessible as we can possibly make them.

We also run a range of fundraising activities during the course of the year which help us with improvements – Quiz Night, Fair, Christmas Raffle, Open Gardens occasionally and so on. One of the other ways we manage to live within our means is through the willingness and enthusiasm of our volunteer Trustees and other supporters who carry a lot of responsibility and are very hands on. We have a brilliant paid staff of some 3.5 full time equivalents and between us we do all that is needed to keep the show on the road.

All our courses are listed on our website pages www.letchworthsettlement.org.uk and you can find out more about us via our Face book pages https://www.facebook.com/LetchworthSettlement/ please take time and have a look at what we do, who knows we may something to tempt you.

Do you have any concerns for the future?

Just the ones which all charities have really – shortage of volunteers and future students – today’s world is not an easy one and people struggle to make a living, raise families and do voluntary work or non vocational studies.

But I remain confident that we will see our second century off to a good start and if anyone is intrigued about what we do and wants to get involved please contact the office on 01462 682828.

Dial M for Murder opens in 2 days

The Settlements Players Production of Dial M for Murder by Frederick Knott opens Thursday. 8 – 10th March 2018

The play by Frederick Knott which became one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most iconic thrillers starring Grace Kelly, Ray Milland and Robert Cummings.
An ex-tennis pro carries out a plot to murder his wife, but when things go wrong, he brilliantly Improvises……….

Tickets available from the Box Office and from David’s Music in Letchworth.

 

Ghost Train Cast Announcement

Here is the cast for Ghost Train, 14-16 June 2018.

Saul Hodgkin –  Ian Mutton
Richard Winthrop – Graeme Bussey
Elsie Winthrop – Hazel Stride
Charles Murdock – James Barnard
Peggy Murdock – Lisa Cooper
Miss Bourne – Sonia Weston
Teddie Deakin –  Glenn Wylds
Jullia Price – Val Barber
Herbert Price – Stephen Charles
John Sterling – David Smith
Jackson –  Cliff Francis
Smith – John Baskerville
Many thanks to all who auditioned over the last week, it was a very good turnout and gave me many casting headaches.
Many thanks

Cliff Francis
Director

Dial M for Murder Rehearsal pictures

Dial M for Murder by Frederick Knott  8 – 10th March 2018

Always have a Plan B.  When your Murder plans go wrong.  Improvise……….

Tickets available from the Box Office and from David’s Music in Letchworth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The play by Frederick Knott which became one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most iconic thrillers starring Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings and Ray Milland. A very clever plot, full of twists and turns, as an Tennis Pro schemes to get rid of his wife.

June 2018 Auditions – The Ghost Train

June 2018 Audition Notice
The Ghost Train by Arnold Ridley
Directed by Cliff Francis Performance Dates 14 – 16 June 2018

Audition Dates Sunday 18th February at 10:30am and
Wednesday 21st February 2018 at 8.00pm
Audition pieces available on request via​
contact@settlement-players.org.uk

Rehearsals will be on Monday, Wednesday and some Sundays starting
Monday 19th March 2018. Monday & Wednesday rehearsals will start at
8.00pm, Sunday’s will be advised.

A Synopsis:
An apparently stupid man accidently strands himself and 5 passengers at a remote Cornish Railway station, late one autumnal evening. With no more trains, no buses, no taxis or hotels, the 6 of them are forced to spend the night in the station waiting room. This being much to the chagrin of the stationmaster who encourages them to leave and recounts the local yarn of “The Ghost Train” to scare them into leaving.
Into this mix arrives a disturbed woman, seemingly escaping from the clutches of her
brother and a Doctor. Both of whom soon arrive searching for her. All against the backdrop of the soon to arrive Ghost Train and the pretentious warnings of tragedy that fall to all who see it. A classic thriller, we gradually get to know the characters and their reasons and motives for being there. Are all who they say they are, or is something more sinister afoot?
Great fun to play, it has laughs and surprises, and ghostly goings on, loud bangs and doors opening and closing by themselves and not to mention a ghost train.
A real ensemble piece, it’s all set in one room on one night, so the cast stay on set for the whole play.
The play was originally written in 1925 but remains a classic of its genre, only recently the Guardian called it the second scariest play ever written, second only to The Woman in Black.
The play requires a cast of 8 men and 4 women. I am not necessarily looking for particular ages for the majority of the parts, it will be building a cast that looks right together. So please come along and audition, and be part of another classic play, to follow Dial M for Murder.
We will be using the Samuel French Acting Edition of the play.

The Roles:
SAUL HODGKIN:
stationmaster at Fal Vale Station –
a great character part, ideally played by an older actor, appears principally in the first act and dramatically tells the story of the Ghost Train. Makes a reappearance at the
end.
RICHARD WINTHROP:
A business man, outspoken, a natural leader, a calm head, takes control and sees common sense prevail.
ELSIE WINTHROP:
Richard’s wife, not so easily frightened and in a marriage that is falling apart, with neither particularly interested in each other.
CHARLES MURDOCK:
Junior partner and expert engineer, in a failing family
business. Part for a younger actor, as it’s his wedding night, on his way for a
brief honeymoon before moving abroad to seek his fortune
PEGGY MURDOCK:
Newly married wife of Charles, very timid, easily spooked and seeking protection and reassurance.
MISS BOURNE:
Another fabulous character part, a mature Scottish spinster travelling with her budgie. Gets accidently drunk, fabulous comedy scene.
TEDDIE DEAKIN:
The buffoon will strands everyone at the station, seemingly a harmless if annoying twerp. Or is there more to Teddie, is he really the twit he likes to seem?
JULIA PRICE:
a seemingly disturbed woman, terrified and haunted by The
Ghost Train that she witnessed the previous year, or did she and is she. Is
there more to Julia than it first seems?
HERBERT PRICE:
declares himself to be Julia’s brother and concerned for her health and welfare, or again is there more to him than it first appears. A smaller part, makes 2 brief but dramatic appearances.
JOHN STERLING:
a sinister character, claims to be Julia’s Doctor but it soon becomes clear his medical knowledge is very limited, so who is he, where does he fit in?
JACKSON and SMITH:
both detectives who only appear at the climax of the play, with a few lines each.