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To Go Or Not To Go; To Be Or Not To Be


John Wright

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Ever since I can remember I have been interested in the theatre

 

I saw my 1st opera aged 8. Saddler's Wells Touring doing Wagner's epic with the ghost ship. Flying Dutchman

 

It was at the Opera house Blackpool. a roll of drums a change of lighting and the ship appeared out of nowhere on stage. I was hooked with the possibilities of what you could achieve with gauzes and lighting back and front

 

I never really acted, but I did start backstage at the gaiety and of course in those halcyon days all the old staff was there, the rain machine the storm machine and the thunder board.

 

My main annual job was to assist with the stage management of the easter Festival promoted by the Manx Amateur drama federation. We were led by Tommy McEvoy who had stage managed professionally and who was then working for Corlett Sons & Cowley but with an understanding that theatre came first.

 

Those Easter weeks we ate worked and slept in the gaiety. Not the nice warm gaiety of today but the unrestored cold and damp gaiety of the mid 1970's, at least to start.

 

Some teams helped, some hindered. Unlike any other festival, and there a re dozens on the circuit we in the IOM provided and built the sets as visiting teams could not bring their own which is the norm

 

I remember setting up the first set over Good Friday and easter Saturday slowly, then the play, then stripping out as the adjudication went on and getting in the team for the next night and at t least setting a back wall. The flats were 50 yeas old, top heavy 18 footers with an inch of emulsion paint.

 

For some people we would do anything.

 

A four foot mittell European director, Gerda Reddlich had us set the back wall four times one year. No a bit forward, no a bit back and so on we were in her thrall

 

about 1979 I was also part of Arbory players. The MADF has a hosting team with a local team looking after a visiting team. I was helping host Group Theatre from the East End

 

I met them at the boat and showed them where they were staying.

 

The Play was the golden Pathway Annual. I still have assigned programme . What a team, what friends we made. The team was based around a large East End family dad, mum, two daughters and son and sons in law plus friends.

 

Over the years they dis some wonderful ul theatre won the cups for best play actor and actresses. Most of all they were f un.

 

Their patriarch, Bernard died earlier this month. Its his wake on 30th.

 

it will never be the same again. I have the memories, do I go or not?

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