Be My Baby

Be My Baby

by Amanda Whittington

7th to 8th May 2010 | Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln

Be My Baby is a short period piece featuring an all-female cast and a nostalgic 1960s sounddtrack. For our small-scale spring / summer production in 2010 we returned to our spiritual home – Croft Street Community Centre in Lincoln – and paired up this touching play with a cabaret-style selection of music and comic turns.

Dave Lintin directed the first half of the evening, bringing together many of the women who had made their Common Ground bow in Cider With Rosie. Alex Thornton took the lead role of Mary, the teenager who falls pregnant and has to give her baby up for adoption, while newcomer Val Petty played the matron at the home for unmarried mothers.

The second half of the evening featured comic monologues by members past and present, a tribute to Flanders and Swann and a guest appearance by folk singer and musician John Pape.

Writing in the Lincolnshire Echo Sheila Jamieson described the show as ‘a sparkling night out’ which was ‘the perfect antidote to the damp weather’.

Mary Alex Thornton
Mrs Adams Vicky Ashberry
Matron Val Petty
Queenie Lisa Hewitt Smith
Dolores Katie Gray
Norma Holly Eggboro
Director Dave Lintin
Producer Su Toogood
Stage Manager Shelagh Gillingham
Sound & light Dave Lintin
Set Dave Lintin
Publicity and programme Jez Ashberry
Wardrobe Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood, Ann Culling

An Inspector Calls

An Inspector Calls

by JB Priestley

29th to 31st October 2009 Bishop Greaves Theatre, Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln

Common Ground Theatre Company had a new director, four newcomers on stage and a brand new venue when we staged the JB Priestley classic ‘An Inspector Calls’ in autumn 2009.

Tony Smith, who had taken a leading role in ‘Cider With Rosie’ in the summer, took his place in the director’s chair for our first appearance at the Bishop Greaves Theatre at Bishop Grosseteste University College in Lincoln.

Appearing on stage with us for the first time were the inimitable Mary Scott and Nicola Stocks and Stephen Gillard, most recently seen appearing with Indulgence Theatre and the Lincoln Shakespeare Company respectively.

The new venue proved a great success, with 470 people attending over four nights – including a special performance for students from Lincoln Minster School.

The Market Rasen Mail described the production as ‘one of Common Ground Theatre Company’s greatest success stories to date’ – and in financial as well as artistic terms it certainly was.

Mr Arthur Birling Maurice Raphael
Mrs Sybil Birling Mary Scott
Sheila Birling Nicola Stocks
Eric Birling Luke Niemic
Gerald Croft Stephen Gillard
Edna, the maid Helen Fleshbourne
Inspector Goole Christopher Adams
Director Tony Smith
Assistant Director Su Toogood
Producer Su Toogood
Stage Manager Alex Thornton
Crew & props Kate Townsend, Nick Dunnett
Wardrobe Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood
Sound & lighting Bill Bartlett
Set Tony Smith, Bill Bartlett, Dave Lintin
Publicity & programme Jez Ashberry
Poster design Mark Scales
Front of house Lucy Housego, Ray Longmore

Cider with Rosie

by Laurie Lee | Adapted by James Roose-Evans

23rd-25th July 2009 Drill Hall, Lincoln

For our summer 2009 production we opted for another ambitious and innovative staging with a cast of thousands – James Roose-Evans’ adaptation of the first part of Laurie Lee’s autobiographical trilogy, Cider With Rosie.

Once again Common Ground Theatre Company proved itself to be a group which can absorb new members and take on complex and at times daunting productions: of the 21 actors in the cast 11 were newcomers to the company, and between them they tackled some of the trickiest bits of stage business Common Ground has attempted to date!

Tim Bradford held the show together with a star turn as Laurie Lee narrating the action, and he was ably supported by Teana Hutchinson (Mother Lee) and the rest of the family.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the cast – apart from recreating rural Gloucestershire between the wars with only a few props, costumes and 18 wooden chairs – was the fact that all the children were played by adult actors, including some as young as three or four.

The Market Rasen Mail described the production as ‘a worthy introduction to Laurie Lee’s trilogy, which will have made many in the audience want to read or re-read the book’.

Narrator, Laurie Lee Tim Bradford
Mother Teana Hutchinson
Loll, the young Laurie Lee Jez Ashberry
Phyll, Loll’s half-sister Lisa Smith
Marge, Loll’s half-sister Alex Thornton
Doth, Loll’s half-sister Becky Fawcett
Jack, Loll’s older brother Tony Smith
Tony, Loll’s younger brother John Leighton
First teacher Emma Atkin
Miss Crabby B, Mrs Davies Kate Townsend
Spadge Hopkins Dave Hewitt
Miss Wardley, First Spinster, Mrs Pimbury Chrissie
Hughes Walt Kerry Chris Matthews
Granny Wallon Carolyn Jones
Granny Trill Su Toogood
Vicar, Mr Davies Christopher Adams
Vincent Jason Hippisley
Uncle Sid, Squire Ian Smith
Second Spinster, Baroness von Hodenburg Eileen Finningley
Jo Melissa Monks
Rosie Dani Isaacs
Director David Lintin
Producer and Assistant Director Su Toogood
Original music composed by Mark Scales
Stage Manager Helen Fleshbourne
Crew Helen Fleshbourne, Bill Bartlett
Properties Bill Bartlett
Wardrobe Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood
Sound effects Mark Scales
Technicians Ed Purle, David Lintin
Set David Lintin, Bill Bartlett
Poster design Chris Van Zwoll, Mark Scales
Programme & publicity Jez Ashberry

The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw

Adapted from the novella by Henry James

6th-8th November 2008 Broadbent Theatre, Wickenby

‘The Turn of the Screw’ is a spine-tingling tale which Vicky Ashberry has long wanted to bring to the stage; a dark and windswept Broadbent Theatre just after Hallowe’en proved to be the perfect venue for such an atmospheric ghost story.

Henry James’ novella has been adapted and reworked many times: it became ‘The Innocents’ starring Deborah Kerr on the silver screen in 1961 and was also the inspiration for ‘The Others’ starring Nicole Kidman.

In the play a young governess is appointed to educate two orphans alone in a rambling country house which, it appears, is haunted by the ghosts of two former employees who met untimely deaths.

At the heart of James’ tale is an ambiguity which provides the kernel of the story: are the ghosts real, and do they mean to harm the children? Is the governess mad, and the ghosts a symptom of her hysteria? Or are the children playing a diabolical trick on poor Miss Grey?

The play provided an opportunity for two Common Ground members – Sarah Holt as the governess Miss Grey and Chrissie Hughes as the kindly housekeeper Mrs Grose – to tackle meaty roles which are all too rare for female actors.

It also gave youngsters Fern Rodgers and Jamie Bendy the opportunity to make their Common Ground debuts with mature performances which belied their tender years.

The Lincolnshire Echo described the play as “tense and chilling” while the Market Rasen Mail saluted “a great success” and “an excellent choice of play for this time of year”.

Miss Grey Sarah Holt
Phoebe Green Mrs Grose
Flora Fern Rodgers
Miles Jamie Bendy
Mr Crimmond Jason Hippisley
Ghost of Miss Jessel Sasha Drennan
Ghost of Peter Quint Jez Ashberry
Director Vicky Ashberry
Assistant Director Luke Niemiec
Producer Jez Ashberry
Set Design Vicky Ashberry
Lighting Patrick Markham
Stage Manager Jez Ashberry
Wardrobe & properties Vicky Ashberry
Front of House Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood
Publicity & programme Jez Ashberry

More Food for Thought

Two short plays and two comic monologues with dinner

2nd-4th May 2008 Croft Street Community Centre, Lincoln

We staged ‘Food for Thought’, our first supper theatre evening, back in 2003 and it was such an enjoyable show that we often considered repeating it. We were pleased to return to Croft Street Community Centre to stage ‘More Food for Thought’ which this time featured two one-act plays and two comic monologues with a two-course supper. Su Toogood and Mark Scales sat in the director’s chair: Mark directed ‘Two Sides of a Square’ by Jack Booth, a clever depiction of a tempestuous relationship played out in two apartments on opposite sides of a town square, while Su staged ‘Meat and Two Veg’ by Paul Beard, which combined sexual tension with competitive vegetable growing. The plays were supported by two classic monologues: Vicky Ashberry gave a hilarious rendition of Joyce Grenfell’s ‘Music and Movement’ (“Don’t do that,George!”) and Jez Ashberry updated Bob Newhart’s monologue about the cheapest of all budget airlines – the Mrs Grace L Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company. Once again Ian Smith took charge in the kitchen and produced another delicious supper: a vegetable pastitio (look it up) followed by fruit salad in a brandysnap basket with ice cream. The Lincolnshire Echo reported that “most performances hit the funny bone and were a credit to the Common Ground Theatre Company.”

‘Two Sides of a Square’ by Jack Booth

Maggie Sasha Drennan
Ernest Luke Niemiec
Mrs Hepplewhite Eileen Finningley
Nadia Sarah Holt

‘Meat and Two Veg’ by Paul Beard

Arthur David Lintin
Margaret Juli Charlton
Al Mark Scales
Directors Mark Scales and Su Toogood
Props and costumes Su Toogood and Carolyn Jones
Lighting Dan Leggett and Emily Norman
Sound Emily Norman
Front of house Vicky Ashberry
Chef Ian Smith
Poster design Jez Ashberry
Publicity Jez Ashberry
Programme Jez Ashberry