J. B. Priestley
Where and When
29th November – 1st December 1951 @ The Women’s Institute Hall, Wimborne
A college professor who has reached the age of retirement is urged by the family to live in comfort away from his gloomy academic surroundings. The new administration of the university dislikes his views on education and is as anxious as his wife and children to have him move out. He resists them all. Even when most of his work is taken away from him, he intends to continue teaching the few students who may come to him. He feels that the time of want and unrest, the time of a peaceful revolution, demands the fulfillment of duties. It is not a time for defeatism, or a quick grab at superficial happiness.
- Mrs Cotton – Ethel Cornish
- Alfred Lockhart – Harold J. Midmore
- Isabel Linden – Katherine Purchas
- Rex Linden – John Bennett
- Dr Jean Linden – Betty Wright
- Marion de Vaury – Thelma Dryden
- Edith Westmore – Daphne Anderson
- Dinah Linden – Betty Viader
- Professor Robert Linden – Leonard H. Mottram
- Bernard Fawcett – Hubert Trenchard
- Producer – L. H. Mottram
- Stage Managers – Pam Mottram and Joyce Parker
- Stage Lighting – Reginald L. Wilkinson
- Interval Music Recordings and Effects – Charles O. Chaleel
- Prompt – Elaine King
- General and Business Manager – Ronald L. Small
Drama Club Score Another Triumph
Well established with a reputation for good entertainment Wimborne Drama Club have scored another triumph, this time with J. B. Priestley’s two act play, The Linden Tree, which they performed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Wimborne W. I. Hall.
This, their third production, followed their successful Saloon Bar and The Chiltern Hundreds, and though it might have been claimed that last weeks play risked appearing too ambitious, the Club carried it off with distinction. L. H. Mottram’s production was flawless with great regard for detail. Himself playing the major role of Professor Robert Linden, he set a particularly high standard which was upheld by the rest of the cast.
Katherine Purchas, as Isabel Linden, his wife, gave a sincere portrayal with a pleasing regard for diction, qualities which were also achieved by John Bennett as the son, Rex. Though Betty Wright and Betty Viader gave pleasing performances as Dr. Jean and Dinah, two of Linden’s daughters, Thelma Dryden as Marion de Vaury, the other daughter, scored with a more convincing performance.
Harold J. Midmore was capable as the University Secretary, and Hubert Trenchard and Daphne Anderson, though playing only minor roles as students, added to the success. Ethel Cornish, as the Linden’s housekeeper, Mrs Cotton, came near to stealing the show, for she closely rivalled Mr Mottram in her understanding and obvious enjoyment of the portrayal. Never once did her Cockney accent falter and she was responsible for much of the laughter that rippled round the audience from time to time.
The execellent staging was the responsibility of Pam Mottram and Joyce Parker, with Reginald L. Wilkinson managing stage lighting. Musical recordings and effects were the responsibility of Charles O. Chaleel, but Elaine King’s services as prompt were not needed at Saturday’s performance. General and business manager for the production was Ronald L. Small.
The successful production was made possible through the kindness of many friends among them Mr T. Kerley, Miss Barnes (Corfe Mullen Dairy), Quarter Jack Antiques, Messrs A. S. Banwell & Sons (Eastbrook House) and Messrs Tilsed and Sons.
Early next spring the Club, which is under the presidency of Mr G. H. Watson, hope to produce Charlotte Hastings’ Bonaventure.
A Hard Task – But Achieved
Following the great success of their first two productions — The Chiltern Hundreds and Saloon Bar — Wimborne Drama Club last week took on the enormous task of presenting J. B. Priestley’s play — The Linden Tree, a play which calls for a far greater sense of concentration and interpretation than any of their previous productions — and they achieved the task with great merit and success.
The Linden Tree is not what one would call a scintillating work, but the keen wit and subtle skill of the author was interpreted with the maximum degree of efficiency which has come to be part and parcel of this happy and talented company of performers.
It was good and pleasing casting which gave Katharine Purchas the role of Isabel Linden, wife of Professor Linden, effectively portrayed by the producer – Leonard H. Mottram. These two artistes perform with a sure and sound knowledge of good stage technique, and not only acted their roles, but really lived them.
John Bennett expressed the difficult particular emotions of the scheming and carefree son Rex, in his own inimitable style, with a splendid sense of abandonment.
Betty Wright as Dr. Jean and Betty Viader as Dinah, the Linden’s two younger daughters, were very pleasant company and the typical family and individual arguments between them and the eldest daughter Marion De Vautry (Thelma Dryden) who had managed to get herself married to a rich Frenchman, were well managed, and their acts of machination and contrivance were delightful to watch.
Hubert Trenchard and Daphe Anderson were, as always, very adequate in their minor but important, roles as students, and Harold Midmore as a university secretary looked the part.
As the family housekeeper, Mrs, Cotton, Ethel Cornish, really did find a part which depended on nobody but herself to create the brilliant character that she did, Her acting was superb, and stage deportment faultless, which can also be said of the producer whose persistent
demands for perfection in interpretation was amply rewarded, and who set a first class example by his own polished performance.
Pam Mottram and Joyce Parker, who were responsible for staging, did a proud job, and with Reginald L. Wilkinson (lights) and Charles O. Chaleel
(music and effects) deserve the finest commendations in their work towards the great success.
Mr. Ronald L. Small was General and Business Manager for the production, and among the many generous friends who helped with advice and equipment
were: Kathleen M. Daniels, Joyce Miles, Mr. T. Kerley, Miss Barnes (Corfe Mullen Dairy), Messrs. Tilsed & Son, Quarter Jack Antiques, an
Messrs. Banwell & Sons (Eastbrook House). Prompter was Elaine King.
The Club anticipate Presenting Charlotte Hasting’s moving play “Bonaventure” in the early spring.
For their third public production, the Wimborne Drama Club have departed from the hilarity of their previous efforts and chosen a delightful family study, “The Linden Tree” by J. B. Priestley, and in doing so, have, I safely say, stamped yet another mark of quality in the annals of the club’s history.
The play is vigorous, alive and exciting. There are some ‘arjybarjy” moments in it (as Mrs. Cotton. housekeeper, played by Ethel Cornish describes a family argument on Science v. Religion), as well as some scenes of pathos and emotion. It is a play that “gets you” and with such well known names in the cast as Ethel Cornish, Harold J. Midmore. Katharine Purchas John Bennett, Thelma Dryden, Daphne Anderson, Betty Viadermand, Hubert Trenchard and with the producer Mr. L. Mottram in the part of Professor Linden, you can be assured of being well rewarded by your visit to the last performance at the Women’s
Institute Hall tonight.
Wimborne Drama Club aims high – and succeeds
In a programme note on their production of J. B. Priestley’s play, ‘The Linden Tree,’ last week, Wimborne Drama Club referred to “the risk of appearing to be too ambitious.” Let me reassure them. If they can maintain the standard of Saturday’s performance, they may confidently reach for the moon with tolerable
certainty of grasping, at least, a sizeable planet.
This story of the domestic crisis which arises when a University professor is “sacked” is by no means easy meat for amateurs. Yet, without exception, every player gave a character study remarkable for its penetration and sincerity; and their efforts were blended into the story by producer Leonard Mottram, with a deftness that earned my ungrudging admiration.
My only excuse for trotting out the time-worn cliché, “it wouid be unfair to individualise,” is that, in this case, it happens to be literally true. I could not single out one player for special praise without casting
undeserved reflections on the others.
Suffice it is to say that the entire production was one of the finest examples of team-work I have seen
on the amateur stage in nearly 40 years of playgoing. And that word “team-work” embraces the entire stage staff and house staff, with special reference to those responsible for the setting. Professor Linden’s studey was the most lived-in room I have ever seen on the stage !
Ethel Cornish (Mrs. Cotton) ; Harold Midmore (Alfred Lockhart) ; Katherine Purchas (Isabel Linden); John Bennett (Rex Linden); Betty Wright (Dr. Jean Linden); Thelma Dryden (Marion de Vaury) Daphne Anderson (Edith Westmore) ; Betty Viader (Dinah Linden); : Leonard Mottram (Prof. Robert Linden) Hubert Trenchard
L. H. Mottram produced; Pam Mottram and Joyce Parke were stage managers; Reginald L. Wikinson was responsible for lighting ; Charles O. Chaleel was in charge of music and effects; Elaine King prompted, and Kathleen Daniels and Joyce Miles assisted with costumes. Ronald L. Small was business manager.
On the acting side the only things one criticised were occasional hesitancies and suggestions of “stiffness”
or nervousness, but these were scarcely noticeable and will disappear as the players concerned gain experience and confidence.
On the production side the “curtain” to the first scene “dragged” and the drawing of the curtains in
that and the following scene was much too slow. I suspect mechanical difficulties.
Mr. G. H. Watson. the club’s president appealed to local residents to become members or honorary members of the Club to ensure a firm financial footing.
I sincerely hope that appeal will meet with a good response, and that the local council will take full advantage of any statutory powers available to enable them to provide worthy accommodation for an organisation which is an acquisition not only to the town but to the County.
My heartiest congratulations everyone concerned.