Waiting for Godot

by Samuel Beckett

6th to 8th November 2019 | The Room Upstairs, Lincoln Drill Hall

Several members of Common Ground have long harboured ambitions to produce Samuel Beckett’s 20th-century classic Waiting for Godot, but none has dared – until now!

We grasped the nettle in 2019 and invited David Thew to direct a play he has long admired – a play many people regard having changed the face of modern theatre forever.

As most of our members are women we sometimes have difficulty casting all-male plays, but Beckett’s estate will not allow any gender-blind casting when it comes to his masterpiece. We were fortunate therefore that two of our long-standing members, John Leighton and Chris Adams, were keen to audition, and they produced excellent performances as the two tramps Vladimir and Estragon respectively.

Our chairman Jez Ashberry played Pozzo, the overblown and pompous slave owner who is nevertheless pathetically tied to his much-abused servant Lucky (played by newcomer Anthony Sexton). The smaller role of the Boy was played by Lincoln College student Dylan Hewis.

We’re pleased to say that Godot was both a commercial and an artistic success, playing for three nights to packed audiences in the intimate Room Upstairs at Lincoln Drill Hall.

Though many people (especially those who have never seen it) consider Godot to be a gloomy and difficult play, we managed to bring out the humour in the language and the visual gags at the same time as giving voice to the playwright’s essentially bleak view on man’s lot on Earth. In doing so we demonstrated that community theatre groups should not be afraid of tackling plays which are thought of as ‘challenging’ and which are rarely seen on the amateur stage.

Reviews:

“It could be seen as a bold, even reckless, thing for amateurs to stage this piece.  Your production was a triumph.  The clear and consistent characterisations from the actors; the maturity of performance from each one: these raised the level to something above the amateur level.

“May I offer my congratulations to you all.  I shall certainly look out for your future productions.” – Greg Wright via Facebook.

“Superb performance by Common Ground Theatre Company of Waiting for Godot at Lincoln Drill Hall.” – Mary Atkinson via Facebook.

“‘Godot was superb, and benefits greatly from intimate setting (really hard not to help Lucky when he fell at my feet!). A privilege to have seen such fine acting. I now see it as marriage between Everyman and Alice in Wonderland. Recommending to other friends who may not have booked yet.” – Anon.

Vladimir John Leighton
Estragon Christopher Adams
Pozzo Jez Ashberry
Lucky Anthony Sexton
Boy Dylan Hewis
Director David Thew
Assistant Director Su Toogood
Technician David Thew
Set / Stage Manager Nick Dunnett
Costumes Su Toogood, Carolyn Jones
Properties Su Toogood, Carolyn Jones
Programme & Publicity Jez Ashberry
Front of House Su Toogood, Vicky Ashberry,
Elaine Howell

Colder Than Here

by Laura Wade

13th to 15th March 2019 | The Blue Room, The Lawn, Lincoln

 Terminal cancer is not often the subject of a comedy, but there were plenty of laughs as well as tears in Laura Wade’s bittersweet drama which we performed at The Blue Room in March 2019.

Long-serving Common Ground stalwart Juli Charlton played the role of Myra, the middle-aged mum facing up to the fact that her husband and daughters will outlive her. Her family, already dysfunctional, is taking the news badly, and the play is an unflinching yet compassionate look at how families cope under such circumstances.

Juli delivered her usual measured and faultless performance; Fraya Grove and Holly Turner were excellent and completely believable as the warring sisters who find themselves drawn close together by their mother’s illness, while Jez Ashberry was suitably dour as the husband who has trouble engaging with his emotions.

Julia Ross did an excellent job directing the play, which was rated as one of our best even though audiences at The Blue Room – Lincoln’s newest theatre venue – were disappointingly small.

Reviews: 

“I have just seen the first-night performance of a play called Colder Than Here at The Lawn, Lincoln. It is the darkly comic story of a family under pressure from failing relationships, a broken boiler and the knowledge of an imminent death.

“This has to be one of Common Ground’s strongest productions – beautifully acted, well observed, unsentimental – performed by four actors in a tight space. I strongly recommend you take time to go see this. Well done everyone.” – Colin Brimblecombe via Facebook.

We watched Colder Than Here tonight at The Blue Room , it was amazing, I’ve never heard the audience laugh so much, yet it was emotional as well as funny. It was as if the parts the cast played were made for them. Well done everyone, we thoroughly enjoyed it.” – Jill Cook via Facebook.

“What a fantastic play. Well done everyone! Really enjoyed it.” – Dome Freestone via Facebook.

 

Myra Julia Charlton
Jenna Fraya Grove
Harriet Holly Turner
Alec Jez Ashberry

Director Julia Ross
Stage crew Shelagh Gillingham & Julia Ross
Lighting & technical Kevin Gillingham
Sound Stephen Gillard
Properties Julia Ross & Nick Dunnett
Publicity photos Vicky Ashberry
Programme & publicity Jez Ashberry
Front of house

Vicky Ashberry, Rose Rowe, Elaine Howell, Su Toogood & Carolyn Jones

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

by Jane Austen, adapted by Jessica Swale

17th to 19th May 2018 | Lincoln Drill Hall

New member Julia  Ross made her debut as a Common Ground director by taking on an ambitious yet hugely successful production of Sense and Sensibility, adapted for the stage from Jane Austen’s novel by Jessica Swale.

Again we were able to look beyond our membership to cast some younger actors, among whom Sarah Cliffe (Elinor),
Laura Potente (Marianne) and Jordan Leith (the Ferrars brothers) were outstanding. They were ably supported by some
of our regulars such as Fraya Grove (Margaret), Vicky Ashberry (Mrs Dashwood) and Suzannah Turner (Fanny) in an ensemble cast which was a joy to watch.

Julia also made many of the period costumes which helped to give the production such visual appeal.

Our audience numbers were hampered by an unforeseen clash with both the FA Cup final and a royal wedding, but the show was well received by all who saw it.

Reviews:

“The whole cast was cohesive and it flowed, so very good in that way. I really enjoyed it. I’ve seen lots of different stuff over the years and that was one of the best and really professional. Very very good. You wouldn’t have thought some of the cast were novices – some seemed as good as professional actors.” – Zara Healey via Facebook.

“Brilliant performance by all the cast. Well done everyone.” – Karen Potente via Facebook.

 

Elinor Dashwood Sarah Cliffe
Marianne Dashwood Laura Potente
Margaret Dashwood Fraya Grove
Mrs Dashwood Vicky Ashberry
Fanny Dashwood Suzannah Turner
Mrs Jennings Peggy Reading
Mrs Palmer Sam Miles
Miss Grey Sam Miles
Lucy Steele Charlotte Brindley
Perks Karen Hunter
John Dashwood Matthew Tarling
Edward Ferrars Jordan Leith
Robert Ferrars Jordan Leith
John Willoughby Elliot Sargent
Mr Palmer Elliot Sargent
Colonel Brandon Steve Gillard
Sir John Middleton Martin Noble
Thomas/Doctor Michael Church

 

Director Julia Ross
Assistant Director Su Toogood
Stage Management Shelagh Gillingham
Lighting Joe Price
Sound Wilfried Nass, Jez Ashberry
Stage crew Kevin Gillingham
Wardrobe Su Toogood, Julia Ross
Properties Su Toogood, Julia Ross, Bill Bartlett
Programme Jez Ashberry
Publicity Jez Ashberry
Photography Catherine Clough
Music Robert Steadman, Hannah Borrill
Flute Sally Cookson
Violin Ruth Birkett
PIano Robert Steadman
Front of House Eileen Finningley, Ros Rowe, Elaine Howell, Carolyn Jones

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare
18th to 20th May 2017 | Lincoln Drill Hall

We haven’t tackled a Shakespeare play since 2007, when we joined forces with the now defunct Lincoln Shakespeare Company to stage Julius Caesar. So we were excited when Vicky Ashberry volunteered to direct Romeo and Juliet, and it turned out to be one of our most successful and most favourably received productions to date.

It was a production that was not without its problems: three cast members pulled out for various reasons in rehearsal, so a certain amount of re-casting was involved. We also had far more women than men at the auditions, which led to the decision early on to cast the play gender-blind with women playing Mercutio, Benvolio, Escalus and Father Laurence. This decision, along with the updating of the play to Verona in the 1960s, the echoes of fascism and the live music, made this a truly interesting performance.

The music really took the play to another level, and it was great to hear 1960s songs from the period combined with original music composed for us by our musical director Robert Steadman.

We were determined to find young actors to play the title roles and we were lucky to unearth two university drama students – Aiden Clark and Sophie Marlowe – who worked extremely hard on their roles and produced performances of remarkable maturity and solidity.

They were supported by a cast which featured a good deal of experience – Colin Brimblecombe as Montague, Jez Ashberry as Capulet, Stephen Gillard as Tybalt and Ruth Andrews as Escalus – as well as a sprinkling of youngsters. Georgina Wilmer and Emily Ashberry in particular brought a whole new dynamic to the relationship between Mercutio and Benvolio.

We sold 430 tickets over three performances of the play and managed to make a small profit, which was a bonus for us. We also welcomed 100 pupils from two local schools who, we hope, enjoyed this refreshing and thought-provoking production of a well known play.

What they said:

“We were very impressed with what we saw; in fact… I doubted if I could find anything wrong with the production. It was excellent both from the actual staging to the acting all round. Not only that but the diction was pretty good, too.

“The fight scene was quite superb; very well choreographed and executed. I thought the musical interludes were delightful and added much to our enjoyment.” – Anne Huckerby

“What a brilliant production of Romeo and Juliet! Everything came together so beautifully: the action, the music, the stage, it was such a slick and professional show. Huge well done to everyone involved.

“For such a well known script there were so many fresh aspects, including the musicians, that I’m not sure I’ll ever see it topped! I can’t wait to come and see the next production! Bravo!” – Kerri Saxby

“Thought it was a brilliant production – funny, poignant and touching. What triumph!” – Elaine Howells

“Not a big Shakespeare fan but this lively interpretation kept my interest. The period, the stylish minimal set, the lighting, all backing up sensitive, well directed performances all round. And with a classic 1966 McCartney ballad for added potency! What was not to like? Well done!” – Ray Longmore

“I very much enjoyed Romeo and Juliet. Strong cast throughout… I particularly liked the way the emotional power of the performance grew as the show went on, drawing the audience in through the performance.” – Michael Church

“We had a great evening and the students really enjoyed the performance – we even had some tears at the end!” – Melissa Scott, Banovallum School

“Thoroughly enjoyed Romeo and Juliet last night. Especially good to see young actors being given opportunity and a young audience watching accessible Shakespeare.” – Phil Hamlyn Williams

 

Romeo Montague Aiden Clark
Juliet Capulet Sophie Marlowe
Antonio Montague Colin Brimblecombe
Lucrezia Montague Julia Ross
Giorgio Capulet Jez Ashberry
Patrizia Capulet Su Toogood
lAnnetta Capulet Peggy Reading
Benvolio Emily Ashberry
Tybalt Stephen Gillard
Mercutio Georgina Wilmer
Paris Simon Harvey
Balthasar Joel Ellin
Father Laurence Pamela Marnie
Escalus Ruth Andrews
Director Vicky Ashberry
Assistant Director Stephen Gillard
Stage Manager Shelagh Gillingham
Lighting Joe Price
Sound Wilfried Nass
Stage crew Kev Gillingham
Wardrobe Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood
Properties Su Toogood
Fight choreography Fox Walters
Programme / publicity Jez Ashberry
Photography Bill Bartlett, Catherine Clough
Original music composed by Robert Steadman
Band Robert Steadman, Hannah Borrill, Daniel Foster
Make-up Hannah Brown
Front of House Eileen Finningley, Ros Rowe, Elaine Howell,
Martin Noble

Little Women

Little Women

By Louisa May Alcott – Adapted by Emma Reeves
13th to 15th October 2016 | Lincoln Drill Hall

Long-standing Common Ground member Martin Noble made his directorial debut with this ambitious and well received production of Little Women.

Emma Reeves’ adaptation actually included two books – Little Women and Good Wives – and was a faithful re-telling of the well known story of sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy as they grow up without their father in the United States during the civil war.

The production required a good sprinkling of young people, which were able to find thanks in part to help from Lincoln’s two universities, and an array of 19th-century costumes which our wardrobe ladies Su and Carolyn managed to put together on a shoestring as usual!

We sold almost 400 tickets over three performances of the play, which also featured singing and live music. Performed on a simple set, and telling the story through flashbacks from the point of view of Jo, Little Women was one of our most successful productions; it was extremely well received by the audience and we even managed to make a small profit!

The production was dedicated to our founder member and committee member Gaynor Little, who passed away in September.The production was dedicated to our founder member and committee member Gaynor Little, who passed away in September.

Review: “Fantastic performance of Little Women last night, Thoroughly enjoyed! Well done everyone!” – Shona MacLean via Facebook.

 

Meg Jessica Hocking
Jo Ellie Pickering
Beth Tabitha Davenhill
Amy Laura Potente
Mrs March Vicky Ashberry
Aunt March Irene North
Aunt Carol Peggy Reading
Sallie Gardiner Lucie Evans
Belle Moffat Emily Ashberry
Laurie Jay Petherick
John Brooke Steve Gillard
Professor Bhaer Jez Ashberry
Ned Moffat Elliot Sargent
Fred Vaughan Joshua Pearson
Director Martin Noble
Assistant Director Su Toogood
Stage Manager Shelagh Gillingham
Lighting Joe Price
Sound David Brown
Stage crew Kev Gillingham
Wardrobe Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood
Properties Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood
Programme Jez Ashberry
Publicity Jez Ashberry
Photography Bill Bartlett, Catherine Clough
Music Hannah Borrill
Arrangements Robert Steadman
Singing Su Toogood, Emily Ashberry
Front of House Nick Dunnett, Dot Howes, Eileen Finningley, Ros Rowe,Naomi Watkins & Julia Ross