Candleford, by Keith Dewhurst

See photos of the show

The Tour:

Bohunt School, Liphook, Fri 19th June 2009
The Petersfield School, Sat 20th June 2009
The Rural Life Centre, Tilford, Sun 21st June 2009
The Phoenix Arts Centre, Bordon, Fri 26th June 2009
Headley Village Hall, Sat 27th June 2009

Characters in the Headley Theatre Club production:

Laura Timms Chloe Porter

Edmund Timms
Bavour, apprentice smith

Alex Clark
Albert Timms
Sir Timothy, the squire
Mr Coulsden, the rector
Mr Cochrane, post office inspector
John Thompson
Rod Sharp
Mrs Gubbins, postwoman
Mrs Peverill
Wendy Downs
Cinderella Doe
Zillah, maid to Dorcas Lane
Mrs Andrews
Pru Harrold
Mrs Gascoigne
Mrs Macey, postwoman
Jo Levy
Emma Timms
Minnie Hickman, telegram girl
Laura (older)
Mel White
Thomas Brown, postman
John Gaskin, squire's footman
Loony Joe
Mr Wilkins, the carrier
Dale Lodge
Cowman Jolliffe
Mr Chitty, squire's butler
John Preskett
Tom Ashley, old soldier
Sir Austin
Robert Bowler, squire's footman
Nick Webb
Dorcas Lane Kat Wootton

Matthew, foreman smith
Ben Trollope, old soldier
Electric bass

Jo Smith
Bill, apprentice smith Chris Potts
Paul Wareham
Lead Guitar Martin Levy
Pipes Steve White
Dance Freda Lodge

Director: Steve White — Producer: John Owen Smith

Director's Notes:

Welcome to our promenade performance of Keith Dewhurst's Candleford, the second of two plays from Flora Thompson's semi-autobiographical novels about the countryside of north-east Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire at the end of the 19th century. This play centres on one winter's day, the first hunt meet of the new year. It begins with Flora's own introduction to set the scene, and follows with her reflections on the characters from the perspective of the future.

All good stories are a journey, and Laura at age 14 (played by Chloe Porter, who celebrates her 15th birthday during the run) is finding out for the first time about the grown up problems that face her as she moves from her home village of Lark Rise to her first job in the Post Office in Candleford Green – an adult world of gossip, intrigue and secrets.

While the play is set in one cold day in January, it contains contemporary themes of growing up and leaving the sheltered world of childhood to forge a future in an adult world of eccentric characters brought to life by the large cast assembled from local theatre groups. The flash forward to Flora's life as a wife and author completes her story.

The first thing you'll notice is that there is no set place for you to be. In a traditional 'proscenium arch' performance the space for the action and the watching are clearly delineated you sit and watch the play like a viewer of TV; the director will ensure that the best view of the action is to the side where the audience is sitting – and this causes odd moments when people engage in an intense discussion while standing side by side facing the audience.

In this promenade performance with you all round and amongst the action, the actors can tell the story in a slightly more authentic and natural way without regard to a particular viewing direction. This is more like directing for TV than directing for a theatrical performance, and as an active participant you will need to move to get the best view for yourself.

You are part of the action, here the action will flow around you – it may ask you gently to move out of its way, it will ask you to get involved and you are an active participant of the action – more like a TV camera choosing your viewing preferences moment by moment than a passive TV watcher consuming whatever is in front of you.

By sharing the space you will get physically closer to the action than perhaps you are used to, watch the drama unfold right in front of you, or right next to you. You may not see all of the action and will need to watch the reaction of others in certain scenes to follow the emotions – you may hear only some parts of some scenes, and you may not get a chance to join us in all the community dances, yet it is my hope that you will, together with the cast and band, help to create an event that is a celebration of Flora Thompson.

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