AMERSHAM & HARD OF AFTER welcoming members back from the summer break, Kate introduced our guest speaker for the September evening meeting, Mr Stan Pretty
The club was very excited to play host to Mr Pretty, having waited some three years to secure his presence, in between his commitments as a working actor, to listen to his talk about the Amersham Playhouse 1936-1949.
Mr Pretty started by asking if any members knew the Amersham Playhouse during the war years.
Several did remember, listening to their recollections and confirming the location as being in Station Road, Amersham in the auction rooms – currently occupied by Pretty and Ellis. Original features of the Playhouse were discussed, and it was established that little has changed to this day.
It emerged that both Mr Pretty and a member of the club, Ian Ainsley, an actor by profession, had trodden the boards at the Playhouse too.
Other notable actors include Sir Robert Stevens, Denholm Elliot, Patricia Troughton and Dirk Bogard.
Mr Pretty described two remarkable women – Sally Latimer and Caryl Jenner – who ran the Playhouse during this period, staging weekly repertory theatre and maintaining a gruelling schedule of 11 performances a week come rain, shine or air-raid warnings, to a capacity audience of 245, while rehearsing the following week’s play as well.
It was reported that audiences were swelled at this time by evacuees from London but when they returned home, it meant a reversal of fortunes for the Playhouse. Rationing continued and the ‘entertainment tax’ also took its toll, leading to financial decline and bankruptcy.
In addition to directing the performances, the two women undertook all aspects of managing the Playhouse, wrote a piece to the audience each week called ‘My Dear Public’, gave acting classes and ran a theatre club.
After a second bankruptcy, Caryl Jenner went on to establish a mobile theatre group, visiting schools and village halls, eventually renting the Arts Theatre in Leicester Square and then establishing the well-known Unicorn Theatre for Children, near City Hall London.
Mr Pretty took further questions and entertained members with humorous excerpts from the reviews of plays performed, audience requests and observations published in the Bucks Examiner.
Thanks were given by Kate. HYDE HEATH THE October meeting commenced with Mrs Deakin giving a fascinating talk and slide show on New Zealand, which she and her husband visited for their 25th wedding anniversary a few years ago.
The original Maoris came from Polynesia and call the country The Land of the Long White Cloud, because the clouds do seem to form long lines across the sky. We were taken on a wonderful tour round both North and South Islands, visiting some popular and remote parts of this beautiful and varied country.
It takes about three hours by ferry to travel between the islands.
Following the talk, President, Jayne Faversham, announced the sad news that a retired member, Audrey Begg, had died on September 13 and four members had represented the group at her funeral.
collection was made for donations to The Brompton Fountain in her memory.
The Jigsaw Challenge team of Mary Collins, Pam Ruff and Doreen White, enjoyed the competition, which was well supported by 18 teams.
The next walk, organised by Pam Epps and Sandra Stevens, will be on October 23. There will be a charity coffee morning at Pam Ruff’s house on October 24 between 10am and noon, with a raffle and bring and buy sale.
The Christmas Party with entertainment will be at 7.15 for 7.30pm on December 11. Tickets at £7.50 should be purchased by November 30. There will be a hot buffet dinner provided by the committee
members and contributions of desserts by members.
After a number of years of stalwart work on the committee, Christine Richfield Andrews has resigned following an operation and a request for new bembers was made.
On November 13 at 8pm the Annual Meeting will be held. Contributions for a bring and buy and sales table were requested.
OUR October meeting was a celebration of our 55th birthday, with members enjoying a glass of wine and some nibbles and a lovely birthday cake made by President Gill with our tea and coffee.
Our speaker was Janey Goodearl, who talked about the Alexander Technique, which she likened to re-educating the body rather than a therapy.
Janey passed around a heavy tin explaining that it weighed 11 pounds, roughly the weight of a human head, which is supported by the spine. Using ‘volunteers’ to demonstrate, we were shown the best way to sit on and to rise from a chair.
During the past month, the craft group have met to continue work on their various projects and the gardening group have been busy planting more than 200 bulbs in the village flower-bed.
We continue to serve refreshments at the Farmers’ Market and, with Christmas in mind, also have a stall with crafts for sale. Our latest Story Sack for St George’s School, which is ‘There was an Old Lady who swallowed a fly’, is progressing well, and some members attend the knit and knatter morning each Monday in our Community Library.
At the beginning of the month a group visited the Hari Krishna temple which was very interesting and an afternoon at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury to see The Importance of being Ernest was also very well supported.
A Scrabble evening is planned for the end of October and our Annual Meeting will take place on November 11.
We meet on the second Tuesday of each month in the Village Hall, Cokes Lane, at 7.45pm and visitors are welcome.
Brenda Flemming, chairwoman of Little Chalfont Good Companions Club, with Mary Phillips