What are the chances of West Sussex amateur theatre returning soon?

There are still significant obstacles in the way before we can get our amateur theatre back on track, a key West Sussex performer has warned.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 6:15 am
Dennis Harrison

Dennis Harrison, who works with both the Midhurst Players and the West Wittering Players, said there was still clearly some way to go – despite the government’s roadmap to easing the lockdown.

“We are feeling more optimistic, and people are very keen to do something, but there are still a number of difficulties. One of the issues will be the availability of venues.

“In Midhurst we use the Memorial Hall which is part of the South Downs National Park Centre. We have been in touch and we have been saying that we might be able to do something there in November or December but they are holding back, saying they don’t know what the requirements for the hall might be in terms of needing it as a vaccination centre. And unfortunately for the Midhurst Players, it’s pretty much the only practical place for us to perform.

“I have trolled around the cast that we had in place for the play which we were going to do last spring, which was the comedy Busybody. We were four weeks away from doing it last year when we pulled it – and we pulled it before the official pulling time because we felt that if there was going to be a problem we didn’t want to go any further.

“We said at the time that the same cast would hold together and we would hope to pick it up. I have gone back to everyone and they are pretty keen to be involved and we are keen to put it on, but it is a question of the availability of the hall and the logistics of being able to rehearse. We would be looking to do something in November/December, our usual slot.

“All we can do is prepare the way for scheduling some sort of rehearsal schedule which we could change later on if we need to. We just want to plan towards being able to do something. We just want to be in a position where we can move into place quickly when circumstances allow us to.”

Another option is looking at some kind of summer one-act or promenade performance for Midhurst before then: “Midhurst Players are wanting to get going again and we need to get going again for all sorts of reasons. We didn’t do a production at the end of 2019 for all sorts of reasons. We had a gap that we were going to fill by putting the March production on.

“We just want to show now that we are still here and chomping at the bit, and that’s the situation to some extent with West Wittering. The play that we were intending to do last spring is a fairly big cast, and it may well be that whatever happens, we can’t get that size of cast onto the stage now.

“We were going to do A Small Affair by Bob Larbey, and one of the reasons we were going to do it was because it was a fairly small play with a fairly large cast and we were wanting something that would give a fairly large number of people the chance to get on stage.

“We know that the hall will be available. We are pretty sure of that. We have got a good relationship with them, but the question is whether there will be any restrictions on social distancing in place and whether we will be able to get something like 14 people on stage.

“We would be looking to do something around the beginning of November, but we might have to be looking at a different play in its place.”