Thursday, 19 July 2012

Vive the Vic/New Vic: Home and Away, by Frances Evans

In the late 1960s, I was fully occupied in learning to live in Staffordshire, to fend for myself as a single person and to teach English to 11–18 year olds. Coriolanus was my first A Level Shakespeare, not the most appealing to the girls in my group. To the rescue came Alan David, actor from the Vic, part of Peter Cheeseman’s plan to build the relationship between theatre and school. The academic advantages were bountiful and my status was enhanced by my introduction of a ‘dishy’ male.

The late 1970s and 80s were dominated by money raising for the new theatre: meetings, covenants, raffles, Open Days, Family Nature Days, collecting at the Potteries Marathons, a Grand Auction, a New Vic Recipe Book: you name it, we did it. For me, the most important event was in October 1989 - I married T F Evans. We had a celebratory lunch in the New Vic restaurant with champagne, courtesy of a startled marketing department. Tom joined me as a dedicated stuffer, vol and audience member. 

Last year I went to visit a niece Jane, who lives in South West France. She took me to tea with an English couple who were trying to learn French later in life. Once upon a time (in fact in 1974) John, whose profession had been sound effects for films, had been at the Vic during the preparations for Fight For Shelton Bar. He was sent alone to the steelworks where he found the noise and the heat terrifying. Recently I tried to establish the date of the documentary. The garage, source of much theatre memorabilia, produced a 9 page booklet, Fight For Shelton Bar, but no date. I shook it impatiently and a Sentinel cutting fell out – Friday March 15th 1974. What the booklet did reveal was a page of Acknowledgements. Under ‘Design and Technical Staff’ appears the name John Pakenham (Design Assistant).

Frances Evans, Ages and Stages Theatre Company 

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