Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Actors Are at Hand

"The actors are at hand;and, by their show,
You shall know all, that you are like to know”
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Anyone who knows their Shakespeare will tell you that ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ from which the above quote comes, has fairies in it, as well as a group of actors who get caught up in the comedy. I’m not sure if my late mother-in-law, the tall fairy in the centre of this picture, was acting in a junior production of that play, but the photograph fits perfectly with the theme for this week’s Sepia Saturday. The picture prompt being a theatre, and Alan encouraging us to ‘put on a performance’, allows me to introduce the dramatis personae within my own family.

Mary the Fairy also makes a handsome young lad in the second picture (third left, back) though we’ve no idea what the play is. It could be Shakespeare again, perhaps 'As You Like It’, as there are shepherds, shepherdesses and goatherds in the Forest of Arden, and the youngsters appear to be dressed appropriately for a pastoral scene, but that could just be wishful thinking.

As a young woman, my Mother-in-law became a member of the Lancaster Footlights Club, and her performance in ‘My Three Angels’ was reported in the paper on November 1st 1957, as being 'assured and convincing’. Well, it’s not surprising, after such an early start.

Mum, as the housekeeper, with arms crossed 
Mum, seated, with hat and bag
Mum, third right
My own mother also acted in amateur dramatic societies.When she wasn’t fulfilling her Red Cross duties as an employee of Boots the Chemist, in Nottingham she was attending their Drama Club. Again, we don’t know the titles of the plays.

Me, as a blackbird, top right, flexing my dramatic wings
The next drama queen is me, and in my junior school production I was a blackbird, with just one line to say; “Hello, what are you doing down there?” They don’t write them like that any more.

It clearly didn’t put me off, because I went on to perform in my school’s sixth form production of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, where I had two lines to say, and played a drunken old ‘witch’ in the slammer. No comments please. By the time I was at teacher training college I was taking part in revues and sketches in the drama club, and had more than two lines to remember. This proved my undoing as I would frequently ‘dry’. I admire those actors, professional and amateur, who can memorise huge tracts of script.

My brother and his family, carry on the acting tradition, however, and have been involved in their local amatateur dramatic society for years. My brother, still directs, and my sister-in-law still occasionally treads the boards.
In these photos, my sister-in-law is just about to put someone out of his misery, in a production from more than thirty years ago, my nephew is the Artful Dodger, my niece is being given a hard time by the chap in the yellow shirt, and my brother, seated at the table on the right, in ‘A Man For All Seasons’ looks as though he’s a figure in a painting by Holbein.
The photos are courtesy of The Bonington Players, in Arnold, Nottingham, and more can be found on their website.

And now the final Act; my own offspring demonstrating that acting is in the blood. My son is the one in the centre, trying to stifle a smile, whilst the lad next to him has failed to do so. All the others are managing to strike some sort of dramatic pose.  In the photo above my daughter just looks pleased that’s it’s all over.

So, ladies and gentlemen ‘our revels now are ended’. We may not be an acting dynasty like the Redgraves, but each generation of the family has played its part.

To see what dramas others have produced, have a look at this week’s Sepia Saturday.


  1. Oh my goodness I don't know where to begin! What a wonderful family filled collection of creative artists at play! How lucky you are that they had so much involvement and you have these priceless photos as well! The costumes are just all exceptional, especially the first two, the fairies in the first one, amazing! Nicely done!

  2. Fascinating Nell. I've always admired those brave enough to go on the stage. I managed two short scenes in a Bejant sketch at St Andrews; we were booed when we took our bows.
    You have quite a family tradition here.

  3. I've always wondered what blackbirds would say if they could talk. Maybe we haven't been missing anything after all. Nell, this is a fantastic post -- I hung on every word AND picture.

  4. Your family sounds very talented.

  5. From fairy to angel, your MIL moved up in the world. Nice see your family's acting gene shown through the ages.

  6. What a great collection of acting through the ages! :)

  7. It certainly does seem that acting runs in the family. What a very talented and well documented group you are! I have never been drawn in that direction apart from primary school when I don't suppose I had an option.

  8. It does appear that acting is in your blood. How fun -and especially that you have the photographs from all of the various productions.

  9. What an amazing tribute to your two "mothers." And how amazing that this "gene" seems to have trickled down through the generations. Bravo!

  10. Wonderful pictures! You have quite a family history in the theatre.

  11. What amazing photos and tribute to your moms. I KNEW that was "A Man For All Seasons"!

  12. Oh, Little Nell, I sure did enjoy this post and seeing so many of your family members perform in these photos. That is wonderful that you have so many actors in your family. I was always too chicken to give acting a try, but my little sis was so much fun to watch, all the way from junior high to college to even now.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to see me; sorry it has taken a bit for me to come back around to do the same.

    Take care, and I hope that you have a wonderful week.

    Kathy M.

  13. I wasn't trying to stifle a smile, I was intimating the inner anxst that follows the realisation of oppressive circumstances and belies the futile effort to put on a brave face, using interesting rhythmic devices to counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the playwrights compassionate soul.

    …All right, I had the giggles.

  14. As much as I love Vanessa [Redgrave],
    I was thrilled throughout this post!!

  15. Nell! What a fun theatrical lineage! I always loved working makeup but only once performed. Great stories and images.