Thursday, 13 April 2017

Women's Institute Drama in the 1930s and 1950s

I have posted previously on the Nunthorpe Women's Institute Drama Group – here, here, here and here.  (I should add that this is Nunthorpe near Middlesbrough, to avoid any confusion).

I've just come across some press cuttings relating to the group, which might be of interest.

Unfortunately, they're not dated!

There is a 1930s clipping relating to the performance of Nine till Six – which featured in the programme shown here and starred Mrs Hedley, Mrs H Stubbs, Mrs Baker, Mrs Steel, Mrs Ballingall and Mrs Borrow – which says
Nunthorpe produced A. and P. Stuart's Nine till Six, revealing a real sense of the stage, with a poise seldom shown by amateurs.  The adjudicator said she had nothing but praise for the performance.  Each of the characters held the balance, so that real unity was achieved, and there was a gratifying absence of over-acting or exaggeration.
 Another 1930s clipping from the W.I. Drama Festival is headlined "Adjudicator praises Nunthorpe Team", and begins
Nunthorpe team was praised for the ease and spontaneity of its acting by the adjudicator, Mr Jack Charlton, of London, at the non-competitive Women's Institute inter-county drama festival in the Rowntree Theatre, York, on Saturday.  They presented Symphony in Illusion, and Mr Charlton said that by bringing their imagination to bear, they had made effective a play that was an attempt to be clever, but that did not quite come off. 
Two other Yorkshire teams, Escrick and Ingleby Arncliffe, took part.  Escrick gave The Thrice Promised Bride, which, Mr Charlton pointed out, required an extremely difficult technique.  He praised the settings, costumes and acting, but said it would have been improved had the mime been as firmly handled as the words.  Ingleby Arncliffe performed Michael
West Auckland, who produced the first scene from King Lear, were criticised for their choice, the adjudicator remarking, "Of all the scenes in the whole of Shakespeare's plays I cannot imagine any that needs the heavier music of the male voice more than this one,"
 Another clipping (a very grainy newspaper photograph, I'm afraid) from the 1930s:-

Caption:  Members of Nunthorpe Women's Institute in a scene from Martha and Mary, a New Testament play which they presented in St Mary's Church, Nunthorpe, yesterday.  On stage are Muriel Ballingall (as Martha), Olga Matthams (Mary), Lesley Hownam (Sara) and Molly Stubbs (Ruth).
The full newspaper caption for the 1939 photograph shown below is
Nunthorpe W.I. members in Paolo and Francesca, which they presented in the Yorkshire Federation of Women's Institute's drama competitions which concluded at York on Saturday.
Nunthorpe W.I. members in Paolo and Francesca 1939
and underneath the photograph Molly Stubbs has written
Drama Cup for Yorkshire won by us for 3rd time 1939
M. Stubbs as Paolo with E. Cameron as Francesca & E. Whinney as Giovanni
Another cutting (with a grainy photo) is captioned 'Rehearsing for the Festival'.  It looks as though it dates from the post-War period, 1940s or early 1950s:-

Kathleen Belas (as Sister Paul), A. Blake (Patsy), Mahoney Crossthwaite (Sister Gabriella), and Molly Stubbs (Sister Annunciata) in a rehearsal scene from Time Out of Joint, which Nunthorpe Players willl present at the British Drama League (Teesside area) annual festival of one-act plays, starting in St John's Hall, Middlesbrough, tomorrow and continuing for the rest of the week. 
This cutting from the 1950s is captioned
Nunthorpe W.I. in a scene from There's Rue For You, presented at the Yorkshire Federation of Women's Institute's drama festival at York on Saturday

and I find that we have a good photograph of it in an old family album, but I'm afraid I have no names to attach.  There's Rue For You was a one-act play by Margaret Turner, published in 1950.

Nunthorpe Women's Institute Drama Group
in 'There's Rue For You'

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