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The School Plays
There appears to have been an interest in Drama and the Performing Arts from the very early days of the school. The very first Penvro in 1897 has reports on music, poetry and drama being performed at Christmas in 1896: including individual recitals, a short play and the school’s own Minstrel Band. By the 1920s, drama had evolved and in 1927 included “Count Rhubarb Vaseline, attired in shorts, rugby socks, kid gloves and a fig basket” causing a “flutter in all feminine hearts.” This was followed by “the intrepid Highland boatman who set sail in a washing basket over a raging sea of squirming females under the ironing sheet…our hero lost his kilt….and took refuge under the ‘waves’…this [also] caused a flutter”. No doubt it did - and it’s a good job the Free Church Council didn’t hear about it!

Play readings and one act plays were also a feature of the Dramatic Society between the wars, but it seems likely that these were mainly ‘in-house.’ A production of She Stoops to Conquer in 1945 seems to have been in front of an audience however, since £52 9s 8d was raised for the Meyrick Hospital and the ‘Coming Home Fund.’ Miss A R Lewis-Davies produced Julius Caesar in 1947 when the school stage was a temporary affair of planks on top of trestles and St. Joan was also produced on this stage. St. Joan also appears to be the first play where ‘official’ photographs were taken and, for one of these, S J Allen turned up with a plate camera on a tripod the size of a launching cradle. He instructed the players to look heavenwards, took the lens-cap off the camera, and fired a magnesium flash. Some pupils thought it could have been one dropped by the Germans a few years before, which had not exploded.

The annual school play now became firmly established, and in those early days ‘heavyweight’ productions such as Murder in the Cathedral and Branwen were the norm, ably produced by Miss A R Lewis Davies and Raymond Garlick. From 1954, G S Shaw took over production of the annual school play and for many people his name will for ever be synonymous with such performances. He introduced a mix of contemporary works and more traditional plays and applied his considerable expertise to these productions. When the school moved from Argyle St. to Bush, his delight at having a big stage to work with and a hall to seat over 500 people was obvious. This was also true of that other stalwart of school drama, K A Cooper, who had a remarkable talent for designing innovative sets. G S Shaw produced 11 consecutive plays between 1954 and 1965, when he moved to another school.

V R T Hughes and K A Cooper now took over the role for the next play and V R T Hughes was to produce/direct the remaining plays until the final one Noah ’in 1970 - after which the school became Comprehensive and the tradition appears to have been lost.

All the plays between 1948 and 1954 have excellent cover in Emlyn’s Scrapbook on this website, with many photos and cast lists. In this Gallery, we have included only single representative photos from these. The Penvro magazines on the site have many articles about drama in the school. Of the plays after 1954, we have in the Gallery at least one photo for each production - except for the following: Coriolanus 1958, The Matchmaker 1959, Dandy Dick 1965, and She Stoops to Conquer 1968. If anyone has photos of these plays, we would be grateful to receive scans.

Many thanks to those many former pupils who have sent in scans which appear in the PLAYS gallery to date.

Roger MacCallum

CLICK HERE for a PDF of these recent additions to the PLAYS gallery in the PHOTOS section. 7mb file, may take time to download. You may find it easier to view faces and read the programmes. Do visit the PLAYS gallery to see all the plays photos we have accumulated to date. You can CLICK HERE to view the PDF of the 50th Anniversary of the production of Romeo & Juliet in 2010 with photos, programme and commentary, or you can CLICK HERE to read about Romeo and Juliet in the MEMORIES section.
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