ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT by Tom Guest

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Players Success!

As reported last month the Sedgefield Players have taken part in the first round of the All England Theatre Festival. It took place from 11th - 14th April at the beautiful Georgian Theatre in Richmond. They entered their version of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Jewish Wife’, a playlet (mini-play); one of a selection of over 20 plays called ‘Fear and Misery of the Third Reich’.

Written just before the Second World War, the play very openly, and very bravely for the time it was written, looks at the rising difficulties that the people of Germany were facing with the growing Nazi Party and the rise of the Third Reich. The Jewish Wife investigates the Nuremburg Laws which stated that a married, mixed couple, where one of the partners was Jewish, could not be allowed and must be divorced, or both would face public derision and eventual arrest and death at the concentration camps. Judith Keith, the Wife in question, makes the decision to leave her husband, something that was happening all over Germany.

Brecht developed a very specific style of theatre for his productions, aimed at education rather than entertainment, allowing an audience to see the whole rather than the individual, and known internationally as the ‘Epic Theatre’. His Verfremdungseffekt, roughly translated as distancing techniques, allow an audience to examine their own thoughts and feelings about a specific event or subject, but with Brecht’s own political and social views very much at the forefront. In directing our version of ‘The Jewish Wife’ I had 5 actresses play one role, a risky move in a competitive environment, where a group are expected to justify their decisions. I also had Stage Directions read aloud by an actor, and all actors on stage throughout. All these elements of Verfremdungseffekt allowed me to demonstrate the political motivation of the piece, and make it a truly Epic Piece of theatre.

And our night at Richmond could indeed be described as Epic. Adjudicator Ben Humphrey of the Guild of Dramatic Adjudicators, praised the Players’ bravery and commitment to the style. We went on to win awards for Best Set, Best Actress, for all 5 actresses who played Judith - Sharon Davey, Sarah Atkinson, Jacqui O’Meara, Viv Jacobs and Sarah Legender, as well as winning Best Production. So we will take the play on to the next round at Saltburn in May, to compete for a place in the English Final! This won’t be the last time we perform the play however, as the Players’ June production is the full version of ‘Fear and Misery’, which we have renamed ‘The Jewish Wife and other plays’.

The show runs from 14th - 16th June at the Parish Hall and you are guaranteed to see something very different from anything the Players have done before. Tickets are available from www.sedgefieldplayers.co.uk. Get them as soon as you can because seating will be limited.


Jazz in Sedgefield

Tuesday 22nd May at 7.30pm Alzheimer’s research to benefit. With a programme of standards from the ‘Great American Songbook', Alex Ord, pianist, composer, music producer and church organist, will be in concert at the Parish Hall, with Peter Ayton, pictured below left, one of the best jazz bassists in the north of England. The performance is one of a series of concerts, classical and contemporary, sponsored by Valjanord Productions, performed by Alex and guests through-out the North. They are specifically aimed at giving a much needed boost to Alzheimer’s UK, who fund research into the treatment of the disease.

It’s a great opportunity to hear two multi-talented musicians with established reputations. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door for £7. Further information is available from Alex on 01429 880070.