Between the ages of 14 and 17, in the
mid late 1990s, I belonged to an amateur dramatics theatre group. Not just any theatre group. This was a small and, if I’m completely honest, rather dysfunctional theatre group. The runt of the theatre group litter.
Other groups in the Brighton area were large, virtually professional groups filled with beautiful and talented individuals who would put on grand, west-end style productions at the Theatre Royal and the Dome. We were a funny looking bunch of very slightly talented individuals (if you half closed your eyes and kept one ear plug in at all times) who, during one unfortunate year of under-financing, performed a pantomime at the beginning of November at a Church Hall in Moulsecoomb.
The other theatre groups had singers who could harmonise. We had singers who could harm eardrums. They had dancers who could tap dance, jive and do the splits. We had dancers who could sway from side to side, not always at the same time and not always in the same direction.
We relied on artistic licence to dress our grandmothers up as teenage characters, our white actors up as black characters (yes, really!) and hoped that no one would notice the occasional performer with missing front teeth or a pierced face.
Rehearsals mainly consisted of 5% singing, 5% dancing, 5% acting, 20% forgetting lines, forgetting dance moves, forgetting stage directions and forgetting song lyrics, 15% drinking tea and eating biscuits, 30% gossiping and/or bitching and, in my case, 20% flirting.
Despite this, and no doubt, much to the relief of everyone who had to endure our performances, what we lacked in talent, we certainly made up for in enthusiasm. When a live band was added, some none too shabby costumes and a bit of theatre atmosphere, we usually managed not to have to issue any refunds in the interval.
It was nearly 20 years ago (March 1993 according to the theatre group scrapbook that I’ve just discovered which has prompted this entry), my memories are a little fuzzy now, although, not too fuzzy to remember that we really did have some performers lacking front teeth, with all the rhythm of a stick of celery and all the musical ability of a rabbit.
But, I also remember that it was tremendous fun, I made friends that I still see now, I gained confidence, courage and belief in myself and, most importantly, I was in the
only best damn pantomime that Moulsecoomb Church Hall ever saw.
Some scrap book photos: