The Grey Players
The boys of the Grey High School, Port Elizabeth, with help from various members of staff, formed the Dramatic Society in 1935 with the combination of the dramatic, literary and debating clubs, thanks to the efforts of these members of the general public: Ken Dimbleby, Aletta Gertruida Krige, (a famous piano player who studied music at Stellenbosch University under Prof Jannasch), Miss G.M. Robb (Grace Robb?) and Rev W.N.H. Tarrant for the music and singing. Mrs Taubie Kushlick for reciting and Mr Barford for entertaining items.
The name "School Society" was at first suggested, but it is doubtful if it was ever adopted.
During the fourth term, two unnamed, one-act plays were produced.
Most of their early productions were performed in the school's De Waal Hall.
The Conjurer. Produced by Miss N. Body. Cast: Hendrik Walton (The Trickster), Andrew Cheyne Mackintosh (Rustic Simpleton), Graeme Murrell (The Innkeeper), G Rex, Brian Field, Herman Colyvas, Godrey Monaghan and Jonah Bennum (as Country Yokels).
Three play-reading presentations were done during the year;
The Monkey's Paw. A supernatural short story by author W W Jacobs, first published in England in 1902. Cast: Gerald Stock (Mrs. White), George Woodman (Mr White), Colin Philip (Mr Sampson), Douglas Crocker (Sergeant-Major Morris), William Wilson (Herbert).
The Dear Departed by S Haughton. Cast: James Boalch, (Mrs Slater), Colin Lang (Mrs Jordan), Godfrey Monaghan (Henry Slater), Mark Dovey (Ben Jordan), Lochart Whyle (Victoria Slater), and Charles Johnstone (Abel Merryweather).
A Night at an Inn by Lord Dunsany. Cast: William Wilson (The Toff ), Robert Bailey (Bill), Norman Rudd (Albert), George Woodman (Sniggers), Colin Philip (Klesh, the Idol), Gerald Stock (First Priest of Klesh), Robert Atherstone (Second Priest of Klesh), and Joshua Joffe (Third Priest of Klesh).
In Port by Harold Simpson. The performance was of only 16 minutes duration and represented a small beginning to what was hoped to be a thriving Dramatic Society. Produced by Mr R Gough. Cast: John Hadlow (The Judge), Robert Clark (Robert Adderley, an ex-convict), and Jack Clarke (Manservant). Trevor Teeton was the prompt and Robert Sims, the stage manager.
I Killed the Count a three-act play. Produced by Mr R Gough. Cast: Victor Nell (Inspector Davidson), Edwin Jordan (Polly), Wilfred Randall (Louise), and Donald(?) or Dudley(?) Ryder (Renee, a charming, alluring young ladies), Donald Holliday (Muller the Cockney), Robert Mercer (Viscount Sorrington), John Duncan Campbell Anderson (Landlord), George Christie (Italian Count Mattoni), John Sheppard (Bernard K Froy), Robert Taylor (Detective Raines), Ronald Whitehead (Johnson), Joseph Day (P C Clifton), and Derek Scarr (Samuel Diamond).
After a number of years of inactivity, The Drama Club was reconstituted under the chairmanship of M Chapman.
The Bishop's Candlesticks a play by Norman McKinnell (1870–1932), based on an incident in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, was entered in the Round Table High Schools' One-act Play Festival. Cast: Donn Jowell (Bishop), Warren Snowball (Convict ), Douglas Laurie (Persome), Nicholas Alexander (Marie), and Cliff Drysdale (Gendarme).
The Dramatic Society presented a variety concert in aid of funds to improve the stage and to purchase some lighting equipment. Directed by R M Dugmore
Both plays were entered in the Round Table Festival. The adjudicator spoke very highly of Legend and after some very helpful and useful criticism, placed it in third place. Thread o' Scarlet suffered from the inexperience of the actors, but they had a valuable "blooding". The adjudicator commented favourably on the performances of Breen and the Landlord
White Sheep of the Family. A three-act, felonious comedy, by L du Garde Peach and Ian Hay. Produced by Mr Dugmore. August 6. Cast: Bernard Simpson (Mr Winter, the father), Forbes Smith (Mrs Winter, his wife), Kemsley Allison (Pat, their daughter), Michael Hoard (Peter, their "profligate" son), Paul Ellis (The Vicar), Jeffrey Opland (Sam Jackson the "fence"), John Connell (Janet, the maid), Geoffrey Hobson (Assistant-Commissioner John Preston), and with Ross Kobus (his daughter, Angela). The night before the dress rehearsal Connell was injured in rugby and Kobus was in bed with a high temperature. Last-minute arrangements were carried out frantically and on Thursday night the dress rehearsal was staged before a disappointingly small audience. Prompt Derek Kohler and stand-in Chronnie Costas struggled admirably in their new-found roles. On Friday night the play was encouragingly applauded by a moderate audience, with Kobus once again recovered and Costas giving a polished performance. The audience was not much larger on Saturday night yet all who saw the play were enthusiastic with their praise. Special mention must be made of the "back-room boys" who constructed an admirable set and of actors Forbes Smith who gave a convincingly feminine performance, and Paul Ellis, who held a charmed audience in the palm of his hand. August 6 - 8.
On September 4th and 5th, the Inter-Schools Play Festival was held in the Little Theatre. Grey Players entered two plays:
The Boy Comes Home by A A Milne, produced by Jacques van Onselen and entered in the Round Table Festival Cast in which it took top honours: Robert Sutherland (Philip), Lockhart Pringle (Uncle James - Best Actor), Forbes Smith (Aunt Emily), Chronnie Costas (Mary) and Paul Green (Mrs Higgins).
The Dear Departed by Stanley Houghton. It was produced by Mr Brian C Thiel. Cast: Errol Scarr (Mrs Slater), Glynn Woodin (Victoria), Lachlan Mackintosh (Henry Slater), Derek Boyd (Mrs Jordan), Leon Davies (Ben Jordan) and Christopher Moller (Abel Merryweather).
Sailor Beware! a three-act comedy by Philip King and Faulkland Cary. Cast: Forbes Smith (Emma), Chronnie Costas (Edie), Norman Kennelley (Mrs Lack), John Connell (Daphne), Theo Stead (Shirley), Michael Arnott (Henry), Jeffrey Ilsley (Albert), Felix Hart (Carnoustie), Joseph Hallis (Mr Purefoy, the Vicar). 19 - 21 May.
Arsenic and Old Lace is a three-act comedy-drama written by playwright Joseph Kesselring in 1939 and was produced by Jacques van Onselen. Cast: Chronnie Costas (Abby), Ivan Zartz (Martha, the mad aunt), Glynn Woodin (Elaine Harper), Geoffrey Allen (the mad nephew), Peter Kingston (Rev Dr Harper), Kemsley Allison (Mortimer Brewster), Jeffrey Ilsley (Jonathan), Michael Arnott (Dr Einstein), Anthony Farr (Officer Brophy), Walter Pfister (Officer Klein), Roy Osborne (Mr Gibbs), Roger Johnson (Lt Rooney) and Beresford Jobling, (Officer O'Hara and Mr Witherspoon). On the final night, cups for a high standard of acting were awarded to Costas, Arnott, and Allison.
The set was designed by Neville Schonegevel and built by Mr Bruce Clement and his boys. Electrical equipment costing R200 was most effectively used, thanks to Mr Dave Tanton and his electricians. We were indebted to Messrs A Pilling (Pty) Ltd for the loan of furniture which was both tasteful and effective; the imposing chandelier was returned to the firm intact, to the great relief of all concerned! April 27 - 29.
TWO EVENINGS OF ONE-ACT PLAYS
Devotees of drama at the Grey were determined to go one better than last year and produced two evenings of one-act plays. Three of the plays were performed by the Grey Dramatic Society and three other schools were invited to participate. These schools were the Collegiate High School, Victoria Park High and Alexander Road. Those who produced plays for the Grey were Mr Dave Tanton, Mr Trevor Teeton and Chronnie Costas. The Hall was packed on both nights and at the end of each evening, an experienced adjudicator discussed the evening's efforts. These criticisms were of a high standard and everyone present went home much the wiser for them.
1962: Caught Napping Produced by Jacques van Onselen. Cast: Brian Hahn (Talky), Glynn Woodin (Jill Potts), Eldon Swallow (Jill's mother), Peter Kingston (School matron), Geoffrey Comley (Lady Cartmichael), Colin Kruger (A maid), Beresford Jobling (Housemaster Wellington Potts), Allan Duff (Dr Rodd, the headmaster), Anthony Farr (Absent-minded butler), John Gardner (Archie d' Arcy), Jeffery Ilsley (Assistant master Wilding), Geoffrey Allen (Maj. Gen. Cartmichael) and Trevor Kennelly (Schoolboy Laker Hopp). May 2 - 5.
Four one-act plays, one written by a schoolboy, Chronnie Costas, were presented on September 22.
1963: One Act Festival.
Spider’s WebThis 1954 three-act comedy-thriller by Agatha Christie was produced by Jacques van Onselen. Cast: Geoffrey Comley (The aged Sir Roland), Bob Byde (Hugo Birch), Graham Barfoot (The murderer), David Hidden (Clarissa), Henry Simons (Lady-gardener), Brian Hahn (The Butler), Andrew Sherriffs, Oliver Costello, and Michael Watson (alternated as the murderer), Llewellyn Botha (British foreign-office official), Stephen Glover (Pippa, the schoolgirl), and Clive Selley (Constable Jones). John Earle and David Yates were responsible for building the set.
Three members of the Dramatic Society produced one-act plays for the annual Round Table one-act festival. They were:
Out of Bounds is a comedy-thriller. Produced by Jacques van Onselen. Cast: David Hidden (The Headmaster), Philip Neame (Lady secretary-cum-secret-agent), Sibley McAdam (Civil Servant), Craig Clark (Mr Purdie), Roderick Pringle (Barman), Christopher Andrew (Budge, the gunman), Sidney Lipstreu (Scarface Miller), Derek Woodin (Toni, the waiter), John Hatton (Albert, the waiter), were competent. Nigel Bakker (Mr Bland, the hotel manager), Peter Connell (Bertie Wooster), Clive Selley (Big-time gangster). John Earle and David Yates were responsible for building the set.
One For the Pot by English playwrights Ray Cooney and Tony Hilton at the De Waal Hall at the Grey High School in Port Elizabeth in aid of Cripple Care. This play is a popular revival of the Whitehall farces. A wealthy Northern mill owner offers £10,000 to the son of a former business associate provided he is the only living relative. Produced by Jacques van Onselen. Cast: Victor Gardiner (Amy Hardcastle), Rodney Edgecombe (Cynthia Hardcastle), Everard van Rooyen (Jugg), Peter Glover (Jonathan Hardcastle), Arnold Hall (Clifton Weaver), Roderick Birnie (Arnold Piper), Nigel Bakker (Charlie Barnett), David Hidden (Hickory Wood), Stuart Gatley (Winnie) and Graham Lang (Mrs Bowater-Smith). June 22 – 25.
Three one-act plays were produced by members of the Dramatic Society for the Round Table play festival.
Two of Us A light-hearted comedy, was produced by Michael Britten-Kelly. Cast: Roger Gardner, Andre Viljoen (A young bride), Jonathan Wiseman, (The maid), Robert Smith and Chris Kingsley (The mothers-in-law).
The Truth about the Truth, A comedy produced by Philip Neame and Stuart Gatley. Cast: Both producers took leads in the play. Stuart Gatley (The very "mod" maid), Philip Neame (The vivacious and sexy actress), Graham Lang and Michael Difford.
The Two Executioners, is an example of the "theatre of the absurd" and was produced by Charles Love. Cast: Peter Summerell, Stephen Glover (Awarded best supporting actor), Mark Watson, Robert Nevay, Stephen Fick and Ronald Endley.
The Seventh Man, by Sir Michael Redgrave. This melodrama, set in a log hut high within the Arctic Circle, was staged by members of the Dramatic Society and entered in the Round Table's Inter-School Festival. It came in at 1st place. Produced by Christopher Hahn (Gaffer Williamson) who also won "Best Supporting Actor". Starring Dean Bonner (Cockney sailor), Graham Richards (Daniel Cooney), David van Blerk (George Sashman), Ken Ironside (Negro Tom) and Adrian Kohler (Long Ede). The set was designed by Adrian Kohler.
The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Herman Wouk. Produced by Johan Theart. Starring Lex Faure (Defence Counsel), Ronnie Hicks (Prosecutor), Rick Sutton (The Captain), with Ian Donald, Huw Roberts, David Austen Jones, Gerald Smith, Paul Connell, Mark Frankel, Christopher Russell and Allistair Glenday. The set was designed by David Kleinschmidt.
Tom and Dick, but no Harry a one-act play by Mr van der Mescht. Staged at the De Waal Hall. Produced by Trevor Sim and Philip Goldman. Starring Gavin Hugh Foster, John Sidney Larkin. It was the only play entered in the annual Round Table's Inter-School Festival.
Nag by die Blokhuis A one-act play produced by J Kasperskie and Philip Goldman. Staged at the De Waal Hall. Starring Walsh and Durham. It was the only play entered in the Round Table's Inter-School Festival.
The Rising Generation by Ann Jellicoe. Produced by Johan Theart and entered in the Round Table's Inter-School Festival. It won in the category "Best Play". Starring a cast of 30 players with the lead actors being Murray Thalrose, Gordon Hicks, Mrs Ryan and Allistair Glenday. Sound by Eugene du Plessis and lighting by Andrew Leitch.
Four Reviews a play by Harold Pinter which consisted of four scenes from life, bringing out the absurdity of everyday conversation. It was entered in the annual Round Table's Inter-School Festival and Mark Frankel was named "Best Supporting Actor" for his role. Produced by Mrs Ryan. Starring Christopher Russell, Lex Faure.
Die Kys about die Forro, a satirical attack by writer C J Langenhoven on an Afrikaner who speaks English in an Afrikaans idiom. Produced by M du Preez. Starring Nigel Pettitt, Clive Cattell and Mark Gedye.
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