A Man for All Seasons - 1966

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From the 1966 School Magazine "The Review"

Under the guidance of Mr. Bourne the school Drama Society this year presented Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons. It has become something of a tradition for Stanfield's plays to be discussed, argued about, condemned for this or exhalted to the skies for that both in the staff-room and along the corridors, but there was never a presentation that excited the school so much as this one. Everyone had some vague inkling of the theme early in the year, how Cardinal Wolsey opposed King Henry VIII's demand for divorce and how, in justifying his life he lost it.

The earliest questions asked were, "How can a tragedy of this type be anything but dismal?", "Will the play merely be a torrent of words spoken by children pretending to be grown-ups?" and "Will enough people come to see it to make the audience capable of participating as a sort of judge of events?" The later questions were "Will the set be spectacular?" and "Will the problems and their answers have anything to do with us?"

When the great night arrived answers to these questions were soon forthcoming. Before the first act there were certainly enough people present to make a unified response. When the act had concluded the response was there. The set itself was a delightful balancing of the formal and picturesque, with a flowered espalier, steps and generous stage. The movement of the characters, the quick response in conversation and the delightful interventions of the Common Man kept one's eyes glued to the stage for every moment. The sex, age and historical period implied by the spectacle dissolved before the intensity of what was being said. And, it appeared later, the matter of "what was said" was the only occasion for for differences of opinion. Difficult phrases and complicated ideas spoken quickly produce different reactions among spectators. If you are content to get the gist of what was said, all is well, but some of the ideas put forward (such as the one on the programme) deserve mulling over and digesting, and I for one lost several sentences while savouring a good one that had passed. Of course this is so with any work of art. You need to prepare yourself for Shakespeare and Sibelius and you need to prepare yourself for Bolt.

The vast majority of the audience were clearly not halted so frequently as I was. They rose to the humour and pathos of quickly following moments as though they were part of the cast themselves. What memories they took home from the play I do not know, but if they realised that Wolsey's predicament was one that faces us in small every day of our lives and could appreciate why he acted as he did, the bounds of their understanding of the human animal were greatly widened.
A Man for All Seasons - 1966 - backstage. Click for larger picture

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The Common Man... ...William Preston
Thomas More... ...Brian Mulliner
Richard Rich... ...Barry Leese
The Duke... ...Alan Barton
Alice More... ...Robert Bentley
Magaret More... ...John Worrall
The Cardinal... ...Harold Woodward
Thomas Cromwell... ...David Dale
The Ambassador... ...Ian Pearsall
His Attendant... ...Howard wilson
William Roper... ...John Cope
The King... ...Marcel Rokach
A Woman... ...Stephen Holland
The Archbishop... ...Anthony Edwards
Director... ...Mr. L. Bourne
Stage Management... ...Mr. D. M. Miller
Setting... ...Mr. W. A George
Decor and Properties... ...Mr. D.G. Light
... ...Mr. G. Hammersley
Lighting... ...Mr. P. C. R. Riley
... ...P. Toft
... ...G. Harrison
Sound... ...M. Ratcliffe
... ...D. Richards
Prompt... ...G. Morris
Wardrobe... ...Mrs. E. Wilson
Business Management... ...Mr. E. R. Kilfoil
... ...Mr. J. P. Martin
House Management... ...Mr. L. S. Ballham

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