Entertainment During The War_ Part 2

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					Entertainment During The War, Part 2

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Peggy Fell-----The 'Denys Edwards Players' and 'Blue Sparks'
Location of story: Sheffield
Background to story: Civilian

                                      The wartime Players

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk
– Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Peggy Fell, and has been added to the site with the
her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.


BEHIND THE SCENES No society can function without a strong back- up team and D.E.P.
over the fifty years has been fortunate to have had the support of people with skills and
talents to enable the production of plays to attain a high standard of presentation. What
made D.E.P. different is summed up by a former member in the words, Attention to detail.

Playing a part he had also played with D.E.P. as a butler, the sherry was served in brandy
glasses, the sherry was an unconvincing colour and the audience was aware that a
poisonous powder didn't dissolve in another drink. All these points were picked up by the
SADATA critic. As he points out, it wouldn't have happened in D.E.P. Over the years,
furniture, china, clocks pictures, linen, knick-knacks, light fittings and many other
oddments have been collected and stored away. Some may rarely see the light of day, but
they are there "just in case". The wardrobe too has a good range of clothes from Victorian,
Edwardian, the 20's, 30's and 40's to the present day. Articles like top hats and bowlers,
antique accessories such as evening bags and shawls, are things to be cherished and cared
for in this world of disposables. We have a first class workshop and are able to build our
sets with the expertise of the people who work on them. By the end of 1995, we will have
presented 212 three-act plays, and apart from five at Croft House, eight at the Merlin
Theatre and one at Frecheville, all have been staged at the Library Theatre. The February
performance in 1979 was cancelled owing to a strike at the theatre and another show
which hit difficulties was during a Big Snow. Members of the cast and backstage slowly
drifted in, having walked most of the way from the suburbs. An audience of six turned up
and joined the cast for a coffee backstage. A quick conference decided to call it a night and
all set off back home. "We had a good laugh and shut up shop," to quote one member.
D.E.P. have also toured with One Act Plays to enter drama festivals. Sets had to be
portable and recruiting a second team when Three Act Plays were on the go at the same
time, often presented difficulties. Setting up a portable set capable of being erected and
struck within a given time limit, presented a challenge and the ingenuity of all who took
part in these presentations deserves a whole- hearted Thankyou for their efforts. A list
compiled by Terry Mounsey can be summarised as follows:


Chairmen Secretaries


Ticket sales


Front of house


Stage directors


Scenic artists

Stage managers









It would be impossible to mention everyone who has helped over the years, but the
following have worked for many years, up to 25 and over in some cases, and in more than
one of the above disciplines:

Keith Allchin

Doreen Bell

Anthony Brookes

Bernard Brailsford*

Roger Bingham

Mary Bradley

Frank Cooke*

Maggie Collins

Charles Coltey

Joyce Colley

Connie Coldwell

Janet Coldwell

John Eaton

Hazel Eaton

Ronald Fell

Peggy Fell

Don Garlick

W. Jenkins Gibson*

Freda Gray

Vera Gregory*
Joseph Hampton*

Roy Jeffrey

Bess Jeffrey

Edward Kain

Mannie Levy*

Laurie Ungard*

James Marsland

Terry Mounsey

Bernard Neild

Mary Newey

Bill Peacock*

James Price*

David Shaw

Judith Shaw

John Shelton

Joyce Tomlinson

Michael Trott

Colin Windle*

Charles Wright

Linda Wright

Those members marked* are unfortunately no longer with us.

When we moved to our present home at Norton Lees, funds were required to be raised to
pay off the bank loan. A sub-committee to promote fund-raising was formed and their
sterling endeavours, bright ideas and hard work involved in promoting efforts to clear our
debt, deserve the heart-felt thanks of all present and past members of the society. D.E.P.
ON TOUR - ONE ACT PLAY FESTIVALS Festivals were always a mixed blessing. On the plus
side, they were a way of "blooding" an aspiring new producer and of showing the D.E.P.
flag. On the other side, there were several difficulties to be faced! Firstly, there would
usually be a mainstream play in rehearsal at the same time. This meant not only a
problem finding a suitable cast but, even more difficult, that of finding a second backstage
team and building a second set in the same workshop. To add to the challenge, the set
had to be easily portable and capable of being erected, and struck, on a strange stage
within a given time limit.

A suitable play was difficult to find. Adjudicators seemed to favour plays which many of us
considered to be rather weird. I remember at one festival, laughing long and loud at a play
about a compost heap in the middle of a living room carpet. (The play was, I think, 'We'll
be in Eastbourne in Ten Minutes' by N.F. Simpson). Having found a cast, a backstage team
and a play, rehearsals could commence. These were often rather dismal affairs because
the cast was usually small and we were the only people in the studio.

We were very much low priority and few came to see us rehearse. This did have one very
desirable effect, however - the cast became a very close team. I remember Graham
Anthony, with that hilarious play 'Love All', determinedly setting out to encourage team
spirit by booking a pub for our rehearsals. It worked.