by Edith Nesbit, adapted by Dave Simpson
Thurs 29th Nov to Sat 1st Dec 2018
Wedmore Village Hall
|Roberta||Ella Bolger (A); Isla Gardiner (B)|
|Peter||Gabriel Todesco-Bond (A); Samuel Kolind (B)|
|Phyllis||Matilda Friend (A); Aurora Bedford (B)|
|Albert Perks||Nigel Newton|
|Mrs Perks||Ren Fayers|
|John Perks||Libby Tucker|
|Alfred Perks||Jack Bethell|
|Bert Perks||Chloe Creaser|
|Emma Perks||Honor Farnie (A); Hannah Tipping (B)|
|Edith Perks||Zoe Folland (A); Phoebe Munro (B)|
|Joan Perks||Amy Purcell|
|Mrs Walker/Woman||Patsy Newton|
|Dr Forrest||Andrea Brenner|
|Mr Szczepansky||Peter Langley|
|Old Gentleman||David Cole|
|District Superintendent||Peter Langley|
|Hounds/villagers||Clarissa Dawkins, Zoe Folland, Caitlin McDonnell, Jack Woodward, Oliver Woodward|
|Passengers and Passers-by||Sonya Bull, Elizabeth Coulter, Clarissa Dawkins, Stephen Farnie, Val Langley, Patsy Newton, Holly Woodward, Jack Woodward, Oliver Woodward|
|Creative and Production Team:|
|Set Designers||Mike Rippon, Anne Richards, Phil Butterworth, Lou Beauchamp|
|Lighting Designer||Mike Rippon|
|Video and Effects Designer||Phil Butterworth|
|Stage Manager||Jendy Weekes|
|Assistant Director||Sue Rippon|
|Set Construction Manager||Steve George|
|Props Designer and Manager||Touche Smyth|
|Costume Designer and Wardrobe Mistress||Sue Burton|
|Hair Designer||Cathy Butterworth|
|Make-up Designer||Judy Phillpotts|
|Costume Assistants||Elizabeth Coulter, Valerie Langley, Angelique Todesco-Bond|
|Hair and Makeup team||Elizabeth Coulter, Jenny George, Lesley Luke, Suzanne Metters, Jane Nisbet, Anne Payne, Margaret Sim, Jean Windridge|
|Set Construction team||Jon Bull, Martin Fulford, Steve George, Martin Horton, Greg Phillpotts, Stephen Potter|
|Set Painting and Decorating team||Chris Fayers, Ren Fayers, Barbara Horton, Greg Phillpotts|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Patsy Newton, Pam Duke|
|Assistant Props Managers||Sue Kolind, Helen Richardson|
|Lighting and Effects Assistant||Hal Farnie|
|Box Office Manager||Anne Richards|
|Publicity||David Hopkins, Sue Rippon|
|Programme Designer||Mike Rippon|
|Programme Advertising Sales||Alan Philps|
|Poster Designers||Mike Rippon, Sue Rippon|
|Front of House Managers||Wayne Hahn, Alan Philps|
|Front of House team||Val Hardwick|
|Performance Video Cameraman||Bernard Coulter|
|Bar Manager||John Sanderson|
|Bar team||Peter Duke, Bill Litherland, Ann Sanderson, Peter Small, Charlie Wilkinson, Susie Wilkinson|
Having not directed for Wedmore for a few years, I said that I would like to direct the autumn production – not knowing that it was going to be suggested that we perform that wonderful classic, The Railway Children. At the time, I did not even know that this had been turned into a play but was only aware of it as a film.
We held auditions on 22nd July and having publicised this in both the IOW News and posters around the area, I was thrilled to bits with the number of people who came along to read the script and over 36 people put themselves forward for parts in the play. As a result, we have a real community play with a cast of over 30 people, many of whom have not acted with Wedmore Theatre before.
You may be wondering why some names have an A or a B alongside – well, we had so many wonderful youngsters come along to the audition that we didn’t want to disappoint any of them. As a result, we have two teams over the four performances and depending upon which performance you are watching, you will be seeing either Team A or Team B.
Directing two teams has certainly presented quite a challenge – both teams have rehearsed on the same evening. Not only did I have to tell the first team what I needed from them but then had tell the second team to do exactly the same thing. Some of the youngsters are in both teams and just occasionally I have been told by one of them that that was not what I had asked them to do first time round!
Staging a production is also a challenge when scenes are determined by the lighting, sound and use of different acting areas. We needed a cottage, garden, a station and a railway!
I have been so lucky to have had such a wonderful cast and crew to help me put on this production – it certainly could never have been performed without all those mentioned in the programme. I must make special mention of all the young people who are taking part – their enthusiasm has been catching. The speed with which they knew their lines was incredible and it has certainly helped with directing them. Our thanks also go to Sophie and her staff at Wedmore Village Store for selling tickets, and to the East Somerset Railway and to all those who have loaned us props.
For many of us of a certain age, we remember with great fondness the film directed by Lionel Jefferies. Whenever I see it (usually at Christmas when it is one of the staple films that are put on at that time) I cry at the end. It is a film with such an iconic ending.
Thank you for coming along to our production and I hope you find our version of The Railway Children as tear-jerking as the film!
Jendy Weekes – Director
Production Photo Galleries
Click below to open up each gallery:
Procuction Video on YouTube
You can watch the whole performance of The Railway Children on YouTube below:
Trailer on YouTube
This is the trailer we shot for the production at the East Somerset Railway in Cranmore:
Background to the Play
The Railway Children is a children’s book by Edith Nesbit, originally serialised in The London Magazine during 1905 and first published in book form in 1906. It has been adapted for the screen several times, of which the 1970 film version is the best known. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography credits Oswald Barron, who had a deep affection for Nesbit, with having provided the plot. The setting is thought to be inspired by Edith’s walks to Chelsfield railway station close to where she lived, and her observing the construction of the railway cutting and tunnel between Chelsfield and Knockholt.
The story has been adapted as a television series four times by the BBC. The first of these, in 1951, was in 8 episodes of 30 minutes each. A second adaptation was then produced, which re-used some of the film from the original series but also contained new material with slight cast changes. This had 4 episodes of 60 minutes each. The supporting/background orchestral music used in these early programs was the memorable and very lyrical second Dance from the Symphonic Dances by Edvard Grieg which we decided to use in our production too.
The BBC again revisited the story with an 8-episode series in 1957 and a 7-episode series in 1968. The 1968 adaptation was placed 96th in the BFI’s 100 Greatest British Television Programmes poll of 2000. It starred Jenny Agutter as Roberta and Gillian Bailey as Phyllis.
After the successful BBC dramatisation of 1968, the film rights were bought by the actor Lionel Jeffries, who wrote and directed the film, released in 1970. Jenny Agutter and Dinah Sheridan starred in the film. In October 1999, ITV made a new adaptation, as a made-for-television film. This time Jenny Agutter played the role of the mother.