Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Actors limbering up for the festival of short plays

FINDING a good one-act play is not always easy, according to one of the directors taking part in this year’s

FINDING a good one-act play is not always easy, according to one of the directors taking part in this year’s Henley Drama Festival — the main problem being that there aren’t that many of them in the literary canon.

But despite this, local amateur groups are rising to the challenge and are looking forward to presenting some interesting short plays at the festival, which starts at the Kenton Theatre in less than two weeks.

This is the 42nd consecutive year for the festival, which showcases work by local talent, overseen by a professional adjudicator who awards prizes at the end of the week.

This year, the Henley Players are presenting an Alan Bennett play, Say Something Happened, which director Kate Lindsay says is “full of Northern wit — and not a little pathos”.

She said: “The festival is an exciting and tough challenge. It’s a wonderful occasion to be able to showcase work which otherwise wouldn’t be possible as a main production. Also, it’s an opportunity for budding writers and directors to show what they can do.

“Henley Players have won many awards over the years, and last year we were especially proud to win two of the most prestigious prizes — best overall play and best original play for The Train Out Of Cloon, written by one of our members, Caroline Bowder.

“But while it’s hugely satisfying to win an award, one of the most important reasons for participating in the festival is to learn more about and improve our acting skills.”

This year’s production by Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society is World Without Memory by Seth Kramer. It tells the story of Abe, and his gradual decline as his mind succumbs to dementia. The 30-minute play shows how he starts by forgetting little things, such as appointments, and gradually finds his memory is eroding so much that he can’t remember where he lives, or recognise the face of his son-in-law.

Director Samantha Fields said: “It’s a deeply moving play, and Richard Evans is outstanding as the leading man. It’s about a man’s slow decline and the struggles of his family to come to terms with what’s happening to him.

“HAODS have a long tradition of working with the drama festival, having performed for more than 30 years. We were particularly proud that our entry to the 40th festival, A Dog’s Life, was the overall winner.But ultimately, festivals aren’t about silverware. They are about providing new opportunities to local actors.”

lThe Henley Drama Festival runs at the Kenton from Monday, May 6 to Saturday, May 11. Visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk for listings

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