Category Archives: News

Newsletter November 2020

Who would have thought when we received the Teesdale Mercury Community Award for Contribution to the Arts this time last year that 2020 would be the first year since 1949 that we did not stage a production?

Equally, when I took over as Chairman of the Club in July 2020 we did not expect that in November we would be in a second lockdown with no prospect of using the theatre for rehearsals or performances for the rest of the year. Because of lockdown the Theatre cannot be used and even when that is lifted the size of the auditorium and adjoining rooms make social distancing, in accordance with government guidelines, difficult, with only approximately 15 to 20 seats being available.

So what has been happening and how can we move forward to get back on stage in 2021?

Gainford Village Hall Committee has kindly allowed us a rent-free period but the next rental instalment of £1350 will become due in March 2021. Fortunately we currently have some reserves which we can use to cover rent and occupation costs for the coming year but we will need to bring in some money, not only to fund rent and future performances but also to allow us to continue to invest in equipment including eventually changing all our lighting to more flexible and economical LEDs.

We have already moved our Committee Meetings online via Zoom and we will hold our first online play reading at the end of this month, 30th November, reading a play especially written for us by member and Social Secretary Michelle Hope.

We hope to further exploit the wonders of modern technology by presenting a Murder Mystery for members kindly hosted by Sara West of Tall Tales Mysteries.  If you would like to take part as a member of the cast please get in touch with me as soon as possible as Sara will need to audition online and actors must sign an agreement with Tall Tales Mysteries. The date of our Murder Mystery will be confirmed by Sara once we have a cast!

Other performance options have been looked at, including broadcasts over the internet, but the cost of licencing and royalties preclude these for the moment.

Fund raising has commenced with further sponsorship of the remaining seats in the theatre (a form is enclosed with this newsletter) this would make an ideal Christmas present for family and friends who enjoy attending our performances and could raise over £800. We are also looking to sell some surplus costumes, lighting and props which we anticipate could raise several hundred pounds.

The Treasurer and other Committee members are exploring online options for income generation such as raffles and a “Go Fund Me” appeal.  We are also in the process of identifying a source for Club Polo shirts, complete with “Gainford Drama Club – 70 Years” logo. If you are interested let me know.

We hope it will not be long before we can once again host play readings in the theatre, even if socially distanced and we have drawn up the requirements for us to be “COVID-safe”; if the pandemic abates we may be able to re-commence rehearsals for “One Day I’ll Fly Away” early in the New Year.

Best wishes

Allan Jones, Chairman

70th Anniversary Newsletter

We’ve Gone Digital

I hope 2019 is turning out to be a good year for you.  I just wanted to keep you all updated on what is happening with the club.  We have now successfully set up an on-line ticket system for booking your tickets and the ability to download them as an e-ticket or you can have them posted out to you.  Having just gone on-line to book 17 tickets myself it’s a really simple easy to use system.  Ticket sales are going well but we need to sell more as we have had declining ticket sales for the past few years.  Please go on line and book tickets we have had great feedback about the new system.  Just press the link below and you can do on-line or speak to them on the phone.  (Note there is a small booking fee but we have reduced the price of the ticket this time by 50p to account for this).

Summer Newsletter 2016

I hope you are all enjoying this summer weather it is long overdue.

Looking back our spring production, which now seems long past, was a very successful “Will You Still Love Me In The Morning”.  This was directed by Lawrence Chandler, and this play introduced Alistair Burn, treading the GDC boards for the first time, as well as two new members, Melissa Rawlings and Jo Leversuch, helping back stage.

For a while we have talked about the possible effects of the Darlington road closure on ticket sales. It does seem to have had an effect, as the last two plays, both were on after the road was reopened, showed a significant improvement in seat occupancy, at 84 and 91 % respectively.

Newsletter September 2015

Hope you all had a good summer and hopefully found some sun.

The next production for autumn has now been cast and rehearsals start next week. The play will be “The Game’s Afoot” by Ken Ludwig, a comedy mystery which won the Edgar Allen Poe Award as the best mystery play in 2012.  Tom Brown is making his directing debut and cast includes, Allan Jones, Iris Hillery, Lawrence Chandler, Maria Lowcock, Jo Longstaff, Michelle Hope, Ronnie Lowery and newest member, Aiden West.  It will run between 18th and 28th  November and once again the first Saturday will be a matinee performance.   As usual, your help is needed, just let us know if you’re willing to assist backstage, front of house, set building, etc.

Looking ahead we need to put in place the directors for the next two 2016 plays so if you would be willing to direct either the Spring or Autumn productions, please contact Ronnie or myself.  This is open to any member so please have a think about it and let us know.

We now have  a new social secretary, Michelle Hope, and she is in need of your talent for the club’s social event a Talent Night on 16th October so please don`t hide it come and strut your stuff.  Let Michelle know if you would like to perform, or just come along for the night and enjoy the talent, your support is needed either way.

Plans for next year, we are hoping to refurbish the theatre with new seating when the Darlington Civic Theatre carry out their major improvements and, hopefully, once again we can purchase their old seating.  For this reason we will be selling programmes again to help boost the coffers!  We would also like to obtain sponsors for the programmes so if any members have contacts please let us know.

I hope this will put you in the picture as to our Club’s plans and, don’t forget we do need to hear from you all with your ideas, suggestions, offers of help etc.

Best wishes

John Lowery


Blithe Spirit our spring production, directed by Alan Jones, was a great success and saw the introduction of several new members.  On stage we had two new members making their debut for the club, Michelle Hope and Jo Longstaff, and backstage Aiden West and Rob Smith.  They all proved to be great assets to the Club during the production.  The Saturday matinee again proved to be very popular, overall we had 565 people who watched the play, and judging from the many comments, thoroughly enjoyed it.

The autumn production will be directed by Tom Brown and play readings have already started to help Tom choose a play.  The next play reading will be on Monday 11th May,7.30 pm, in the Green Room.    

Iris Hillery is planning a Talent Night as a club social event on Friday 9th October.   We know we have many talented people in the Club so please don`t “hide your light under a bushel” come and “strut your stuff”.

We are trying hard to publicise the Club and its activities via social media adding to our existing website.   We have now added Facebook pages, one for members only and an open page to get our message out there, so please have a look at them and contribute them. 


We have been approached to see if the club would wish to join in a festival.  An extract from an e- mail is as follows:-

 “We are currently working towards setting up a festival in the area and wondered if this might be of interest?  As well as our own two productions (COSI FAN TUTTE and the rock musical – ! – BEOWULF), which we would love people to join, the main idea is for any groups and other performers to put on shows under the umbrella of the Festival: drama groups/comedians/orchestras/dance schools…  Perhaps groups have performed i n their local villages and could do a ‘swop’ with others; thereby getting extra enjoyment out of their hard work and doubling entertainment opportunities for their audiences.

The Festival will take place over the first two weeks of August (in the hope that should it be something people enjoyed sufficiently to want to do it again, perhaps we could tempt visitors to Edinburgh to make a detour – thinking ahead a little!)”

If anybody thinks this is a good idea for the Club to take part at this festival, please let me know.

Gainford Big Weekend, in June, are having a scarecrow competition.  It might be fun if we created a Drama Club scarecrow (could we put it outside the Theatre?).  Would anyone be up for helping produce one?   Please let we know.

Well that’s all for now!


Play Readings

In order to decide on our Spring production we will be undertaking a couple of play readings in the Green room of the Academy Theatre on Monday, 8th December.

Allan Jones will be directing the spring production, play and dates to be arranged, so he will need to know who will be available.  If you would like to be considered for a part in the next play but can’t make the reading, please let me or Allan know.

Also, the following Monday (15th), same time and place, we are having our Christmas get-together, with a play reading, mulled wine and mince pies.  Again, let us know if you can’t make it!

If you are interested and would like to become involved with Gainford Drama Club, why not contact us and come along.


The committee would like to invite all our members to come along on the 4th September at 8pm, (after the comm.meeting), to discuss the possibility of producing a third play end of January/February 2015.  As we now have lots of new members we are keen to keep up interest and get everyone involved.  The idea would be to cast a play end of October.

We need your thoughts on this so please come along.  Let me know if you can’t make it but would like to be involved.

Summer News

At the recent AGM our chairman gave a summary of the club year. Several play readings had been held, all with very good attendances, which resulted in two successful productions being staged, An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, abridged and directed by our chairman and 3 one-act plays from Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 series directed by Allan Jones.  There were good houses for both productions and all new members who had joined during the year were able to make their acting debuts.

Several social events had been held during the year culminating in our President’s 90th birthday party held in the theatre and attended by many past and current members. Enid Burdon has been a member since the inception of the club in 1949 and is still a great supporter.

The chairman had made good progress in updating the mailing list and intended to continue with the responsibility of sending out the forms, both postal and electronic.   She thanked Richard Stephenson and Viv and Mike Brown for their work in printing and dealing with the forms and the tickets and Allan Jones for his work in setting up and maintaining the website. Paul Richardson presented his financial report for the year which had been audited by David Maughan and they were both thanked for their contribution.

Play readings were being held in The Green Room, the next one being on Monday 30th June and new members would be made very welcome.  The next production to be staged at the end of November would be directed by Lawrence Chandler and Fiona Minay and it was intended that a casting meeting would be held before the summer holidays with rehearsals commencing at the beginning of September.

It was noted that the Spring Production next year would be our 150th, the longevity of the club is a splendid achievement not possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of members.

In conclusion our chairman thanked the officers and committee for their help and support during the three years of her chairmanship and handed the meeting over to the incoming chairman John Lowery.


Spring News

Rehearsal are underway for our spring production.  Our director for this production, Allan Jones, has chosen three one-act plays from Noel Coward’s series Tonight at 8.30 although it has to be noted that we shall be starting the performance at 7.30 p.m. prompt!

You can read a brief synopsis of the plays on our What’s On page.  Ticket application forms will be sent out during the next few weeks and a link to the form will be appearing on the website.

The three plays are quite different and will give our actors the opportunity to show their range and abilities and for four new members to make their debuts.

We are very pleased to announce that our President and founder, Enid Burdon, will be celebrating her 90th birthday during the Spring production and we shall be asking friends and members to join us in the celebration after the performance on Saturday 5th April.  If you are a former club member and would like to attend the party please make sure you book your tickets for that night and join us afterwards – we shall be very pleased to see you.

Joan Hillery Robinson

GDC Chairman

6th February 2014

Autumn News 2013

Rehearsals are well underway for our autumn production An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde.  This has been abridged for the drama club by our Chairman Joan Hillery Robinson who is also the director and producer.  Oscar Wilde may have approved of this as he said himself that he thought the play too long.  It is a witty story of romance, insider trading and scandal and was extremely popular with Victorian and Edwardian audiences running for over a hundred performances.

Many of the themes of An Ideal Husband were influenced by the situation Oscar Wilde found himself in during the early 1890s.  The play is about a hidden scandal, blackmail and the inability of a man to share his faults and failings with his wife.  Wilde’s own life with his wife Constance, seems never very far from the play.

The enduring popularity of the play is undoubtedly down to its wit and humour.  Wilde cleverly emphasises the hypocrisy of society, minor characters are an important vehicle for this theme constantly portrayed as two-faced, saying one thing one moment the turning round to say the exact opposite (to great comic effect).  For example, Lord Caversham exclaims near the end of the play that Mabel displays a great deal of common sense after earlier stating that ‘common sense is the privilege of our sex’.

The narrative of the play focuses on political corruption, the story of scandal in the life of a politician and the threat of press exposure is a theme which has had relevance in every decade over the last hundred years and will doubtless continue to do so.

October 2013