As manager of a Scottish theatre I was often invited to speak to local societies. Obviously I would promote my venue and its programme, but then added some anecdotes about the people, places and adventures encountered on my travels with British Council theatre companies; travels which have taken me to forty-three different countries including three residencies in the Middle East, eight tours of the Indian sub-continent, and two circumnavigations of the globe. I called the talk
TALKS AND PRESENTATIONS
AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY PLAYS
With judicious updating from time to time that title has served me well for twenty-five years, and became the title of my first book - since revised and republished as MEANDERINGS: A RIVER AND A LIFE.
“It is refreshing to find a speaker who can hold a group enthralled with the spoken word alone -
something you achieved in spades. Dave More; Bristol NTC.
Many groups offered a return booking so I added another talk, a sideways look at theatrical productions from the stage manager’s point of view.
THE VIEW FROM THE WINGS
Developed from my experiences with everything from variety (Butlin’s Holiday Camps and the London Palladium) to the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, Scottish Opera and Sadler’s Wells Ballet. The stage manager’s view from the prompt corner is very different to that from your comfortable seat in the stalls or circle. Reality theatre; no retakes. And as the review says - slightly saucy.
A very accomplished performance. Sarum U3A.
Splendid Talk; everyone enjoyed it - including the naughty bits. Bookham U3A.
If we had a cup for Speaker of the Year it would have your name on it. Barnstaple Taw Probus.
With so many bookings coming in from Womens Groups and from Ladies Lunches it seemed logical to add a Talk of specific interest to the ladies. I have written a dozen stage scripts (nine produced so far, four of them published). Following comments that I didn’t write many good roles for ladies I staged a piece about the British women in India during the second half of the Raj. Called LETTERS FROM THE HEN HOUSE it was compiled mainly from letters, diaries and memoirs of the period. Six excellent roles for the ladies and only four men. Elements from that script together with some of the original research material form the basis of my talk
WOMEN OF THE RAJ
When the Colonial Administrators arrived to take over from the East India Company they were often accompanied by their wives: wives who spoke only English, who mixed only with other wives, and who couldn’t even communicate with their household staff. Wives who made great demands on their husbands. As one Indian wrote later “I don’t think they realised
what a menace they were. If the memsahibs had stayed in Britain there might never have been a Mutiny”.
“An inspiring and entertaining talk which gave us a fascinating insight into the life and politics of British India and held our members spellbound. A resounding success, leaving us all wanting more”. Manchester Luncheon Club.
FROM JOHN FREELAND TO RUDYARD KIPLING
Long before Kipling bought it for his family home, the National Trust property Batemans was owned by one of my distant ancestors, John Freeland.
John Freeland left money for a Bread Charity. His brother Henry, gamekeeper to the infamous Webster family, apparently fathered a couple of baseborn Henrys on his travels between the Webster estates in Battle, Robertsbridge, Bodiam and East Grinstead. Parson William Levett made cannon; Thomas Brassey built railways; Hilaire Belloc wrote books and poems. Picking up from their stories, this talk attempts a personalised look at life in the County around that time - the period ‘from John Freeland to Rudyard Kipling’.
The above four Talks each last about 45 minutes, and DO NOT REQUIRE projector or screen. The only local requirements are a jug of water and a glass - and whatever amplification your members are used to.
A TRIP DOWN THE RIVER CHARENTE (below) is currently MY ONLY POWERPOINT PRESENTATION - but this one really does need pictures.
King Henri IV described the River Charente as “the most beautiful river in my kingdom” but it is much more than that. A border between warring forces; the invasion route for the Vikings; a main transportation route until the arrival of the railways, carrying cannon, paper, brandy, salt and building materials. It now plays an increasingly important role in the tourist industry of two French departements, Charente and Charente Maritime. Discover all this, and more, when you book
A TRIP DOWN THE RIVER CHARENTE
These are essentially ‘performances’ - with furniture and props - and require a performance space rather than just a lectern. And a hands-free microphone. Details on the following pages.
A canter through the life, loves and writings of “the greatest playwright since Shakespeare” told, as he himself always told it, with a whimsical sense of humour.
A Talk plus A Presentation could provide a full evening’s programme for a theatre or arts centre - or perhaps for a festival.
Details on the DOUBLE BILLS page.
“An absolutely fascinating talk. The many wonderful stories and quotations made it so poignant, and really brought it to life.
A most stimulating evening. Thank you”. Rona Musker; Staunton Group W.I.
“witty and informative”. Emsworth U3A.
“An inspiring and entertaining insight into the life and politics of British India”. Hucknall U3A.
However, from October 2018, there will be a second Powerpoint Presentation.
RICHELIEU: THE CARDINAL AND HIS ‘CITY’
The Touraine village of RICHELIEU (pop. 2000) was my home for five years in the 1990s, and this new Presentation mixes my happy memories of French village life with the story of the priest who became Europe’s greatest-ever statesman/diplomat as First Minister to King Louis XIII, and who commissioned this “handsome but badly-sited” village built alongside his family chateau.
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW: PLAYING THE CLOWN
CLARKSON ROSE: 50 YEARS OF SEASIDE ENTERTAINMENT
20th century Seaside Entertainment developed from Minstrels to Pierrots to Concert Party to Variety. Clarkson Rose will help to tell the story of TWINKLE, a typical concert party of that period.