Rome 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.

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

Dancing at Lughnasa

Dancing at Lughnasa

By Brian Friel
23rd to 25th September 2015 | Lincoln Drill Hall

Our autumn 2015 production in the main auditorium at Lincoln Drill Hall was Dancing at Lughnasa by the celebrated Irish playwright Brian Friel.

Directed by Gaynor Little, the play tells the story of an impoverished family of sisters living in rural Ireland in the 1930s and the effect on them of the return of their older brother Jack, who has been working in Africa as a missionary priest.

A fabulous ensemble cast really brought this play to life, aided by an ingenious set (which cost £30!) and some suitable down-at-heel costumes and props.

As usual with Common Ground we welcomed several newcomers, but to the untrained eye it seemed that the cast had been working together for years! Dot Howes, Pam Marnie, David Thew, Dene Woodman and Louise Ross all appeared for us for the first time, joining Common Ground stalwarts Su Toogood and John Leighton and relative newcomer Fraya Grove.

Sad to relate that just a week after our performance Brian Friel passed away, but we felt we did justice to one of his best loved plays despite the small audiences over three nights at Lincoln Drill Hall.

Kate Su Toogood
Rose Louise Ross
Maggie Pam Marnie
Agnes Dot Howes
Chris Fraya Grove
Michael David Thew
Gerry Dene Woodman
Jack John Leighton
Director Gaynor Little
Producer Vicky Ashberry
Stage Manager Nick Dunnett
Lighting Lincoln Drill Hall
Sound David Brown
Set construction Nick Dunnett
Stage crew Kevin & Sheila Gillingham, Julia Thew
Wardrobe Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood
Properties Bill Bartlett, Su Toogood, Carolyn Jones
Programme & publicity Jez Ashberry
Photography Bill Bartlett, Deb Lord
Choreography Collette Saw
Front of House Naomi Watkins, Juli Charlton

The Fisherman’s Wife

The Fisherman’s Wife

A sex farce, with sea creatures – By Steve Yockey
30th April to 2nd May 2015 | The Room Upstairs, Lincoln Drill Hall

We have staged all kinds of plays in our 14-year history, from Shakespeare and Dickens to coarse acting and contemporary drama. But it’s fair to say that we’ve never performed anything quite like The Fisherman’s Wife, which was our offering in spring 2015.

Never before performed in the UK, this is a new play by American author Steve Yockey which takes as its inspiration The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, a 19th-century Japanese woodcut which depicts a raunchy encounter between a female pearl diver and two tentacled sea creatures.

From that starting point Yockey wrote a crazy, surreal sex farce featuring an unhappily married couple, a sexually opportunistic travelling salesman and a pair of magical sea creatures who assume human form when on dry land.

Our hilarious show in The Room Upstairs at Lincoln Drill Hall featured live music, vivid underpants, drug misuse, a puppet show, sex, violence, a singalong and much more besides.

Once again we had several new faces in our cast – Matt Noakes and Suzannah Turner as the sea creaures Octopus and Squid and Fraya Grove as the eponymous Vanessa Minnow – while old stagers Philip Little and Jez Ashberry played the fisherman Cooper Minnow and Thomas Bell, the travelling salesman, respectively.

The play was a virtual sell-out and certainly enhanced our reputation as a theatre group which is prepared to push the boundaries wherever possible!

Vanessa Minnow Fraya Grove
Cooper Minnow Philip Little
Thomas Bell Jez Ashberry
Squid Suzannah Turner
Octopus Matt Noakes
Director Vicky Ashberry
Technical Support David Brown
Stage Manager Nick Dunnett
Lighting Joe Price
ASM Helen Hill
Set construction Nick Dunnett
Set painting Andrew Simms
Photography Bill Bartlett
Properties & wardrobe Vicky Ashberry
Programme / Publicity Jez Ashberry

Mr Wonderful

Mr Wonderful

by James Robsons

20th to 22nd October 2014 | The Room Upstairs, Lincoln Drill Hall

We turned to contemporary comedy – well, 1980s comedy – with our production of the bittersweet play Mr Wonderful directed in The Room Upstairs by Janet Marshall, who was making her directorial debut for the company.

Stalwart member Gaynor Little did her best to steal the show in a comic role as the bed-ridden Phoebe, who struggles with the idea of her daughter finding true love at last at the same time as she struggles with the early signs of dementia.

But Naomi Watkins also deserves credit for her performance as Norma, who is taken in by the suave impostor Geoff Lazenby before finally turning the tables on him.

The part of Geoff was ably played by another long-standing Common Grounder, Martin Noble, while John Kirsopp demonstrated his versatility by taking the remaining four parts.

For the first time in our history we can’t say that we welcomed a new member onto the stage, but we did have newcomers working behind the scenes!

Norma Green Naomi Watkins
Phoebe Green Gaynor Little
Geoff Lazenby Martin Noble
Box, Lop Wink, waiter, drunk John Kirsopp
Mr Wonderful Aloysius
Voices off Vicky Ashberry, Carolyn Jones,
Su Toogood, Fiona McManus
Director Janet Marshall
Assistant Director Vicky Ashberry
Technical Support David Brown
Stage Manager Nick Dunnett
ASM Fiona McManus
Wardrobe & make-up Fiona McManus
Programme & publicity Jez Ashberry
Front of House Su Toogood, Carolyn Jones,
Elaine Howell