A visit to Pinewood Studios, 1949
Mr Moore from J.Arthur Rank gave a lecture to the seniors on making films, from conception to cinema, and what it is like to be a film actor. He offered a tour of Pinewood Studios to the three best essayists writing on 'A story I would like to see filmed and why'. The winners were Joanna Brough (daughter of Arthur Brough of the Leas Pavilion Repertory Theatre in Folkestone), Liliane Cuvelier and June Bonniface. Maureen O'Sullivan was runner-up and got a book-token! The lucky winners went to the studios for lunch and a tour. They watched a scene from "Poet's Pub" being filmed, in which the villain stole a ring from a sleeping woman. Joanna wrote: "I confess I have nevere seen so many people take so much time to do so little. They fiddled with the lighting and sound over and over again, while the continuity girl listed down exactly where every single article and prop was placed." They met actors Derek Bond and James Robertson-Justice.
Macbeth, aged 12
Speech Day celebrations 1949 included an entertainment at the Marine Gardens Pavilion, with an abridged version of 'Macbeth', the title role played by 12-year-old Ann Hart. Her "tomorrow and tomorrow" speech was polished, heart-rending and sincere. Isobel Drew played Lady Macbeth with a convincing sleep-walking scene. Sally Harris made a fine ghost as Banquo. Joanna Brough was stage-manager, and Mr Hasson controlled the lighting.
The pantomimes have their own page. This page is concerned with Shakespeare and other plays.
'Twelfth Night' 1951
This was performed at Folkestone Town Hall (dreadful accoustics!) on the evening of Speech Day. One of its most notable features was the resemblance between Viola and Sebastian, for they were played by the Weir sisters Margaret and Ann --- not quite twins, but highly convincing. The play was preceded by June Bonniface, Pat Underwood and Audrey Lant on the piano, Janet Anthony conducting Form 1's percussion band, and a dance 'Lucy Locket'.
Sally Harris (15 years old) as Portia and Maureen O'Sullivan as Shylock in 'The Merchant of Venice' at the Pleasure Gardens Theatre, Speech Day weekend 1952.
This is where they learned their skills --- the Drama Studio in the basement of the Junior School in Earl's Avenue, in 1955. Shelagh Barnes is using a tape-recorder.
The performance at the Leas Cliff Hall coincided with an 80mph gale, rain in torrents and heavy seas crashing on the shore. Susan Hays and Shelagh Barnes, with perfect diction and beautifully modulated voices, narrated how women have helped to spread the gospel through the ages. Over 60 girls appeared in various tableaux, and the School Choir sang hymns accompanied by Miss Rudman. The local press described it as "attaining a beauty which held the audience breathless."
'The Merchant of Venice' 1961
"Gaoler, look to him!" l-r: Valerie Sharp, Mary Shaw, Barbara Hodgson and Janet Baker. Caroline Thomas painted the back-cloth and faces.
'The Taming of the Shrew' 1957
Staged in the ballroom of the Hotel Metropole following Speech Day. Sally Chiverton played Petruchio and "...swaggered through her role... with an ease and bombast and assurance quite remarkable in one so young. Jane (Merrow) made a magnificent shrew, and demonstrated what a good Shakespearian actress she is by making the part sympathetic. She spoke the verse beautifully and gave point to every word of prose." Sonia Hughes as Hortensio, the amorous musician "brought the house down" with her antics.
Not a St Margaret's show, but for 'The Remarkable Mr Pennypacker' at the Leas Pavilion repertory theatre, Arthur Brough invited four of our girls to take part, two at a time (child actor laws) in the week's run. This photograph shows Susan Dolton and Barbara Hodgson. The other two girls were Susan Ramshaw and Therese Maconochie. Arthur Brough was the father of Joanna and later acted in the TV series 'Are you being served?'
"The part of Rosalind has been called Shakespeare's gift to actresses, even though it was written for a youth to play, and one can recollect dozens of competent and pleasing young women in the part., never, however, surely, one so charming as Deirdre Judkins. She was Rosalind: she wore the part like a well-fitting garment. In grace of movement, in acting skill and in charm of voice she could not have been bettered and she looked so pretty . . . ."
Jennifer Sutcliffe played the melancholic Jaques, Anne Martin a robust Touchstone, Susan Ramshaw a delightful Celia, Sally Nicholas a merry Audrey. Susan and Delia Collett were the brothers Oliver and Orlando, Susan Dolton a splendid Phoebe. . . there was praise for everyone including Louise Howard, Anne Stone, Elizabeth Gatward, Nicola Morling, Mary Jane Rogers.
'Twelfth Night' 1959
The new School Hall in Grimston Gardens was the venue for this speech day production --- fast moving, the comedy played with zest and a complete absence of self-consciousness. As a sincere Viola, Susan Ramshaw won every heart, Anne Martin's poise and dignity as Olivia were most effective, Sonia Hughes handled the role of Malvolio brilliantly. Susan Dolton was a manly Sebastian, as well as managing to bear a remarkable resemblance to Viola . . . all the cast won praise, but Jennifer Sutcliffe was singled out as outstanding in her role as Orsino. In voice, carriage and the ability to speak verse, she was magnificent.
Left, Orsino to Viola: "I have unclasped to thee the book even of my secret soul."
'Much Ado about Nothing' 1962
Julie Roome is seen here as Hero preparing for her wedding, assisted by Lesley Ann Haining and Kathleen Cleghorn. The production was by Miss E.M.Lincoln, who attended the SMOGS 2003 reunion, but died on January 2004.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream"
1963, and the School's first performance of this popular play. Mr Hasson and Miss Lincoln produced it jointly, filling it with vigour and vivacity, using the small stage to great effect. Suzanne Ross stood out as Bottom, with a deep voice and earthy heartiness. Antoinette Atterbury as Titania showed calm and dignified poise, and Miss Kennedy's fairies danced charmingly.
'Richard the Second' 1964
Along with Lear and Othello, this is one of the greatest challenges of all Shakespeare's plays, but Miss Lincoln's production was a clear success. The whole case won praise, but Julie Roome's Richard was outstanding as a mature and thoughtful characterisation of a remarkably high order. The facial expression, the haunted look in the eyes, the significant gestures, the choked voice and tears of the deposition scene --- all worthy of a professional actress, and strangely reminiscent of Sir Michael Redgrave.
Six trial scenes
The 1965 Speech Day production consisted of trial scenes from six Shakespeare plays, two produced by Mr Hasson and four by Miss Lincoln. Here is Jane Gregory as King Henry VIII and Lesley Ann Haining as Katherine of Aragon.
And now for something completely different . . .
From Shakespeare to Sheridan
1966 was the end of an era, for Mr Hasson was not well enough to produce a pantomime. And to make a change from Shakespeare, it was decided to put on a Sheridan drama in March, just a month before Mr Hasson died. It was produced by Miss Lincoln, who helped them with this complete change from what they were used to: no rhymes or blank verse rhythm, but they threw themselves into it with enthusiasm, and the result was artistic and charming with a good pace. Miss Kennedy produced a minuet, and the Recorder Group helped create the 18th century atmosphere.
Shakespeare at Saltwood
More than 1,500 people attended the opening of Saltwood Castle in June 1952, and among the entertainment was a group of St Margaret's girls presenting selections from Shakespeare in the open air on the raised lawn of the ancient inner bailey, with the castle in the background. The actresses were Shelagh Barnes, Charmian Turner, Carol Temkin, Maureen O'Sullivan, Vida Farhad, Merylin Roberts and Sally Harris.
Joining the boys
Just before Christmas in 1952, a couple of St Mags girls performed in a J.B.Priestley play with the boys of the Harvey Grammar School. Mary Hill and Sally Harris played the female roles in 'Bees on the Boat Deck', and over forty girls attended the first night. Cor, some of us had to be content with gloating through the fence at the tennis courts in Cheriton.
Sally Harris (as Portia) rehearsing with Shelagh Barnes and Mary Hill for the trial scene from "The Merchant of Venice" for the 1953 Folkestone Music Festival, at which they won the Milsom Cup.
1953 - a good year for Drama
Probably for the first time in any school, four candidates took Grade VI in Drama at the same time: Merylin Roberts (above left) Sally Harris (above right), Susan Hays and Carol Temkin. The first three gained Distinction, and Carol gained Merit. Merylin gained the highest marks in the country (141 out of 150) and was declared a medallist. Sally Harris was close behind with 140. What an achievement for the School! Merylin announced on the last day of Summer Term that she had gained Scholarship Level entrance to RADA --- her life-long ambition. Sally was snapped up by the Arthur Brough players at the Leas Pavilion and played a number of important roles most beautifully.
1956 - even better!
St Margaret's had this way of having record year after record year. In 1956 an incredible 98 pupils passed various grades of Drama examinations. Hard to believe --- just imagine Mr Hasson's workload in coaching them all! But their names are all there in the School magazine. Among them were 8 with distinction and 21 with merit. Surpassing the 1953 achievement, six girls passed Grade VIII (Finals) at the same time, and Jane Merrow (right) took Distinction, in spite of being only 14 years old, and the youngest girl ever to do so. The other finalists were Elsa Ely, Sally Chiverton, April Clarke, Leila Farhad and Christabel Charles.
Second medallist in 1958
This time it was Deidre Judkin's turn to gain the highest marks in the country in Grade VIII Drama finals. She went on to enter RADA to train to be a Speech and Drama teacher.
Mandy Gibbs, Helen Sievwright, Antoinette Atterbury, Penny ?
For recent pictures of Jane Merrow, try www.theunmutual.co.uk/pm2006.htm and other sites through your search engine. Clicking on this takes you directly to it. To return to this page, use 'back' rather than exit.
Sonia Speich (1938-39) enjoyed visiting the Brough family home. The Leas Pavilion scenic designer had built her a small stage in a top floor room, complete with painted back drop and curtains that drew. There was a large wicker basket for dressing up, full of ostrich feather fans, embroidered shawls and beautiful costumes.