Well, where do we begin to tell the fairy tale journey which started over a year ago? It’s a long story, but here goes…..Many moons ago, we heard the news that the Royal Shakespeare Company wanted to join together a professional cast with local amateur casts for their upcoming tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ‘A Play for the Nation’, was was the vision of Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman who required 14 groups to play the principal roles of The Mechanicals and to share the experience across the country. The Mechanicals are some of Shakespeare’s best loved characters, (including the iconic role of Nick Bottom the Weaver). They are an under-prepared, yet loveable bunch of craftsmen and women who put themselves forward to entertain royalty at the end of the play. This would require 6 actors, 1 rehearsal actor and a local Director to lead the team in each local area and be main liaison between the team and the RSC.
We were then immediately contacted by the BBC and ‘Inside Out’ Director, Sally Williams, who was to make a documentary about Poulton Drama, about the overall experience of being involved in ‘A Play for the Nation’ which would be televised in May. The documentary, ‘The Best Bottoms in the Land’ was aired on 20 May and all of Poulton Drama and their families were glued to the TV screens to see what Sally had put together for a 28 minute screening out of over 40 hours footage. It was a wonderfully positive documentary for both Poulton Drama, the Grand Theatre, and of course our main home town Blackpool.
The next challenge was to complete a written application, which required detailed information on the proposed cast, a history of Poulton Drama and an extensive explanation of why we should proceed to the next stage. Finally, after the longest two weeks in memory, the news arrived from Erica Whyman, that the Poulton Drama team had been successful and would be performing alongside 18 professional actors at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool in April and for two performances at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford in July.
Every member of Poulton Drama who either took part or supported will cherish this experience for the rest of their lives. It has undoubtedly enhanced our society and the relationships within. We now have strong ties with the creative team from the RSC and the BBC and many of them have become dear and true friends. We are truly honoured to have been part of theatre history.
Anthony Henry (Bottom, the Weaver), Garry Houghton (Flute, the Bellows Mender), Catherine Lloyd (Quince, the Carpenter), Roger Lloyd-Jones (Starveling, the Tailor), Huw Rose (Snout, the Tinker) Ian Rowe (Snug, the Joiner), Sarah Jane Stone (Rehearsal Titania/Puck), and Tony Stone (Local Director).