The Lady in the Van


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Show programme for The Lady in the Van performed by Woodford Players Nov 2017

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Woodford Players The Lady in the Van Woodford Community Centre Chester Road, Woodford. SK7 1PS 22nd - 25th November 2017


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Greater Manchester Drama Federation The Greater Manchester Drama Federation (GMDF) is recognised as one of the leading associations representing amateur theatre in the North West of England. The GMDF’s affiliated network alone makes it one of the largest regional organisations of its type and it’s Full Length Festival, is probably the largest drama festival to be held in Europe. Entries into this Festival are adjudicated by four adjudicators throughout the season and their awards across various categories of drama are announced at our prestigious Awards Evening during the summer. We also hold a long established, annual, high quality, week long, One Act Play Festival which, next year, will be held at TheTheatre Royal, Smithy Street, Ramsbottom BL0 9AT. Details are on our website. GMDF aims include: • To provide a central organisation through which the membership can take co-operative and concerted action in all matters which concern non-professional theatre. • To involve and encourage at all times, in every facet of the theatre, the youth drama movement in the Greater Manchester area . • To promote ‘live theatre’ to the general public in, thus providing a cultural activity of acknowledged value in this modern era of increased leisure time . NATIONAL OPERATIC and DRAMATIC ASSOCIATION Serving Amateur Theatre since 1899 Inspiring theatre Our vision is that amateur theatre is successful and sustainable, providing a range of opportunities for people to develop their skills and enjoy taking part, at all levels. Mission We are here to support the education and information needs of individuals and organisations with high quality services and products that contribute to the success of amateur theatre, as well as encouraging appreciation of the sector by participants and audiences alike. We aim to: • Help amateur societies and individuals achieve the highest • standards of best practice and performance. • Give a shared voice to the amateur theatre sector. • Provide leadership and advice to enable the amateur theatre sector to tackle the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.


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Chairman’s address Welcome to another evening of entertainment at The Woodford Centre. Woodford Players has had a very successful year. We have won awards from both the Greater Manchester Drama Federation and the National Operatic and Dramatic Association for our full length plays “Gaslight” and “The Farndale Avenue Townswomen’s Guild Murder Mystery Play” (Murder at Checkmate Manor) We also won an award at the Greater Manchester Drama Federation’s One Act Play Festival in June of this year, with an Outstanding Actor award for Tom Dawson and a Certificate of Merit for Catherine Eaton for their roles in “The Amazing Revelations of Orca The Goldfish”. We present for you tonight Alan Bennett’s West End hit play “The Lady in The Van”. This play has given our technical team numerous headaches and challenges but I know that it has been worthwhile. The cast have also faced challenges as it is an extraordinary story to come to terms with in that the remarkable Miss Shepherd really did exist, she really was very smelly and she really did live in a van for over 15 years. A truly amazing story. If you ever fancy helping our technical team (no previous experience necessary! ), “treading the boards” or helping with wardrobe, make-up or front of house, please make yourself known to one of our members. We are a very friendly society and we are always looking to increase our membership. I hope that you have a good evening with Woodford Players and enjoy “The Lady in The Van” Best Wishes Derek Snowdon Chairman Exquisite interior furnishings and quality gifts 35 Queensway, Poynton. SK12 1JG 01625 871627


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Tickets for our plays can be booked at /woodfordplayers or telephone 0333 666 3366 Woodford Community Players gratefully acknowledges the vital support of the following: Christ Church Woodford for rehearsal facilities Mark Wilkinson for help erecting the raked seating All our advertisers, please lend them your support and those who have


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Stunning new homes in Woodford How very Redrow Images typical of Redrow homes. Details correct at time of going to press. Open Mon, 12am - 5.30pm Tues to Sun, 10am - 5.30pm Call: 0161 825 8756 Visit: WOODFORD GARDEN VILLAGE Chester Road, Woodford, Cheshire SK7 1QP 4 & 5 bedroom homes available from: £466,995 Woodford Garden Village is an innovative new development in the heart of Cheshire. Based at the historic former aerodrome at Woodford, the development lies in close proximity to Wilmslow, Poynton and Bramhall and within commuting distance of Manchester.


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550 Chester Road, Woodford, Stockport. SK7 1PS If you haven’t visited this pub, put it on your “to do” list because you are in for a treat. This pub has been in the Hallworth family for 85 years with the current landlady at the helm for the last 26 years and when her son takes over it will be the 5th generation of Hallworths in the Thief’s Neck—A considerable achievement indeed. A warm welcome awaits you at The Davenport Arms (The Thief’s Neck). The Hallworth family, are the longest serving family of any pub in Robinsons’ 330-strong estate, have been pulling pints at the Davenport for more than 80 years. Relax in this lovely pub and enjoy a pint of perfectly kept beer or choose from a large selection of fine wines. An extensive traditional food menu as well as a selection of delicious grazing boards will leave you spoiled for choice. Scrummy, locally sourced food and a great atmosphere always provides customers with the perfect setting for a cosy festive season celebration. Early booking is always advised as this popular pub gets booked up very quickly. A traditional, family run, country pub offering high quality food, drinks and perfectly kept Robinson’s beers. 30 consecutive years in The Good Beer Guide 0161 439 2435


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Some of Alan Bennett’s Observations of Miss Shepherd “No one knew her well,” said Alan Bennett of the lady who lived for 15 years in a van outside his house. “Even I didn’t know her well. But I knew what she was like.” In Miss Shepherd’s time, the crescent was full of what Bennett described as “liberal, slightly guilty intellectuals”. They didn’t feel they could get rid of her. “She’d sense this,” Bennett suggested, and when she felt it was time to move, she’d just take the brake off. “In about 1973,” he went on, “she got to the bot- tom of the curve, which is where I lived, and couldn’t go any further”. Bennett explained that he invited her in off the street – thinking she would only stay for a matter of weeks – because his desk overlooked the van and he found her travails so distracting he couldn’t work. People would come past and kick the van, or hurl abuse at Miss S, and he found himself constantly having to intervene. In real life, said Bennett, the only subject that interested anyone was Miss Shepherd’s “sanitary arrangements”. “It was really a question of plastic bags,” he said, “Stout ones.” Very occasionally, she would use Bennett’s loo, which he would spend hours disinfecting afterwards. As he wrote in his original memoir in the London Review of Books, “it was here on the threshold of the toilet that my charity stopped short”. In any case, she evoked mixed feelings all the time: “One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation.” Miss Shepherd had such strong political opinions, and found the existing parties so misaligned with them, that she founded her own party, the Fidelius Party – which was, according to Bennett, “well to the right of Ukip”. She wrote pamphlets, which she distributed outside the local bank, and wrote slogans in chalk on the pavement. At Hay, Bennett confessed that she occasionally sent him to have the pamphlets photocop- ied at Prontaprint, and that he worried the staff there might think he’d written them himself. When a member of the audience asked what Miss S would have thought of being immortalised on film, Bennett replied that she would have thought it was her due. She believed herself to be “a person of significance,” he explained. Here was a woman who had, after all, once sent a letter addressed to “Someone in Charge of Argentina” in an attempt to explain to General Galtieri that “Mrs Thatcher isn’t the Iron Lady. It’s me.” She fully believed she would become prime minister. “When I’m elected,” she asked Bennett, “do you think I shall have to live in Downing Street or could I run things from the van?” Miss Shepherd’s papers are now kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The President’s Jottings “The Lady in the Van” - yet another challenge for our intrepid stage set construction crew. Over the years the Players have risen to many such challenges, literally two in one instance with the design and construction in 1985 of the set for “Ronald Millar’s The Bride and the Batchelor. The scene was the Lounge Hall of Kilpatrick’s house in St John’s Wood, London. The Main feature was an upper level consisting of a balcony ,complete with railings , positioned across the back of the stage and reached by a staircase situated down stage left. Young schoolgirl Charlotte Levin, playing `Barbara Kilpatrick used the stairs on several occasions to reach her “bedroom” with access off right by means of a ladder hidden behind the flats on the opposite side of the stage. This meant that Trevor McKelvey, was ousted from his “lighting corner” to his own balcony at the back of the hall from where he successfully operated the stage lighting. There was much set painting to be done especially the balcony railings which I completed during the morning prior to the first performance, luckily the paint was quick drying! Underneath the balcony was a magnificent Mummy case known affectionately as “Tutank-cardboard” made by Pat and Derek Snowdon who spent time at the Manchester Museum studying authentic Mummy cases to ensure the hieroglyphics were correct on their “homemade” case. A team of five looked after the many unusual properties which included African drums, spears, bowls and skulls illustrating the incongruity between the Kilpatrick family’s suburban lifestyle and the African culture pouring into their home in the form of wedding presents! A good time was had by all. Heather Braddock President


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Alan Bennett Alan Bennett was born in 1934 in Leeds. He studied at Exeter College, Oxford, then after a period of National Service, became a lecturer for a short time at Oxford University. He co-wrote and starred in Beyond the Fringe (1963), a satirical review, along with Dudley Moore, Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller, at the Edinburgh Festival in 1960. Later the show travelled to the West End and to New York. After this, he started writing for the stage, and later, plays for television. To date he has been actor, director, broadcaster, and written for stage, television, radio and film. His work focuses on the everyday and the mundane; on people with typically British characteristics and obsessions. His first stage play was Forty Years On (1969). Other well-known stage plays include Kafka’s Dick (1987), The Wind In The Willows (1991), and The Madness of George III (1992). His first work for television was a sketch show, On the Margin, and he also wrote the television series Fortunes of War. His first television play was A Day Out, followed by several more television plays, five for the BBC, published as Objects of Affection and Other Plays for TV (1982),and five for London Weekend Television, published as The Writer in Disguise (1985).  His two series of monologues for television, Talking Heads I (1988) and Talking Heads 2 (1998), proved Bennett to be the master of television monologue, a genre he had first anticipated in A Woman Of No Importance (1982) - his first play starring a single actress. Alan Bennett has also written for radio, including The Lady In The Van (1990), an autobiographical memoir of a deranged woman who parked her car in his garden and stayed for 15 years; and films, including A Private Function (1984), Parson’s Pleasure, Prick Up Your Ears (1987), and The Madness of King George (1994), for which he was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay adaptation. Alan Bennett has won many prestigious awards for his writing. His prose collection Writing Home (1994), was followed by a sequel, Untold Stories, in 2005. His recent play, The History Boys (2004), won the 2004 Evening Standard Award for Best Play of the Year and The Uncommon Reader (2007), is a novella in which the Queen develops a taste for reading. His most recent play is Cocktail Sticks (2012). His 1999 play The Lady in the Van has recently been released as a film with Dame Maggie Smith in the lead role. 


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The Lady in the Van Cast Mike Gallagher - Alan Bennett This is the first time Mike has trodden Woodford’s boards, previous roles have been:Father Mullarkey in Mary O Malley’s Once a Catholic Osbourn & Pato Dooley in Martin McDonagh’s Lieutenant Of Inishmore & Beauty Queen Of Leenane respectively and Baldrick in Richard Curtis / Ben Elton’s Blackadder III,. Mike sys “ I would like to thank all the cast, crew and all involved at Woodford Players for such a warm welcome and supporting environment and to Carla Stokes for her excellent Direction.” John Lomax - Alan Bennett 2 John is delighted to playing the part of Alan Bennett 2 in this production. Following his appearance as Jack Mannigham in the Woodford Players production of Gaslight last November John was invited to direct The 39 Steps at Poynton Players. This was followed by an appearance as Captain Lesgate in CHADS production of Dial M for Murder. After The Lady in the Van John will be going straight into rehearsals directing Party Pieces again at Poynton before directing Woodford’s April play A Bunch of Amateurs by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman.” Sue Mooney - Miss Shepherd Sue is thrilled to be able to add Miss Shepherd to her “bucket list” of characters to play. After 32 years she is teamed up with the director Carla Stokes once again after previously playing the infamous Edith Piaf. Miss Shepherd has been the most complex and difficult character to get to grips with. An almost unbelievable figure that we struggle to remember that she really did live in that existence. Lindsay Statham - Pauline Lindsey has been with the Players since 2007 her first role being Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Crown Matrimonial in the following years she played Anne Frank’s Mother and was one of Woodford’ s Calendar Girls. Lindsay was also one of the three wives of fellow actor Bill Cross in The Worst Day of My Life at one of our Theatre Suppers. Tom Dawson - Rufus Tom has been with the players since 2004 after answering an ad for help with set building and painting at Woodford he turned up was offered a part and has never looked back. Some of his roles include Inspector Pratt in Murdered to Death and Death by Fatal Murder, King George in The Madness of George the Third and Edward in Someone To Watch Over Me He is also a member of the award winning set building team at Woodford .


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The Lady in the Van Cast Heather Braddock - Mam This play marks Heather’s 67th appearance for Woodford Players, a remarkable achievement. Heather first appeared as Sally in A Quiet Weekend . She counts Lady Airlie in Crown Matrimonial as one of her favourite roles as well as the scheming Mrs Steerforth in David Copperfield together with Miss Maple in Death by Fatal Murder and bewhiskered old Dan in The Titfield Thunderbolt. Janet Mullen - The Social Worker Janet has been an active member of Woodford Players for many years. Regular patrons will remember her as Queen Mary in Crown Matrimonial and as Jessie in the Players production of Calendar Girls. Janet also helps backstage she is enjoying working on this challenging play. Alan Statham - Ambulanceman and Underwood Alan’s first appearance for Woodford was in Calendar Girls with his real life wife Lindsay. He has also appeared in Pastiche at one of our theatre suppers which involved changing characters to be a butler, a Gypsy musician, a policeman and a wheelchair-bound, geriatric grand-father. Alan also helps with our Front of House and set building teams. Bill Cross - Mam’s doctor, Lout and Fairchild Bill has been a valued member of Woodford Players for many years appearing in Great Expectations, House Guest, Dick Barton Special Agent, Witness for the Prosecution and as the much married character in The Worst Day of My Life. When not treading the boards Bill also is a member of our Front of House team. Pat Helicon - Interviewer and Miss Shepherd’s doctor Pat started treading the boards in musical theatre with Our Ladies Operatic Society she has been a member of Woodford Players for over 20 years playing many roles. Two of her favourites being Ruth in Blythe Spirit and Aunt Ella in Oklahoma. Pat is also the secretary of the society.


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The Cast of The Lady in the Van Miss Shepherd Alan Bennett Alan Bennett 2 Mam Rufus Pauline The Social Worker Ambulanceman and Underwood Lout, Mam’s Doctor and Leo Fairchild Interviewer and Miss Shepherd’s Doctor Sue Mooney Mike Gallagher John Lomax Heather Braddock Tom Dawson Lindsay Statham Janet Mullen Alan Statham Bill Cross Pat Helicon Production Team Director Technical Director and Lighting Design Stage Manager Continuity Set Design Set Construction Team and Stage Crew Sound Engineer Properties Wardrobe Programme and Publicity Photography Refreshments Front of House Team Carla Stokes Trevor Mckelvey Derek Manton Tracey Hepburn Carla Stokes Derek Snowdon, Tom Dawson, Derek Manton, Wilson Young, James Cawley Graham Scurfield Pat Snowdon, Carolyn Manton The Cast, Monica Wickham Tom Dawson, Jude Craig Derek Manton and Angela Rezzano Teresa Dawson, Monica Wickham Andrew Eaton, Teresa Dawson, Monica Wickham, Graham and Carol Ackers


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Director’s Notes In 1974, whilst walking near his home in Camden Town, Alan Bennett met Miss Mary Shepherd, an elderly eccentric woman, who, after establishing he wasn’t St John, ‘The disciple whom Jesus loved’, asked him to give her van a push to Albany Street. The van, eventually moving into the street where Bennett lived and eventually into the driveway of his home, was the start of a ‘relationship’ with this intriguing, enigmatic, odoriferous and challenging woman, which ended with her death some 15 years later. The two Alan Bennetts in the play represent the author, who initially has no interest in writing about Miss Shepherd and the Alan Bennett, who was dealing with Miss Shepherd’s eccentricities, of which there were many, on a day to day basis. As expected however, during the course of the play, we see Alan Bennett the author become unable to supress his interest in putting pen to paper to record Miss Shepherd’s journey. The play has both humour and poignancy in equal measure and has become popular with Amateur Societies in recent years. It does however challenge all the elements of production, especially for Societies with limited space. I am therefore very proud of, and grateful to the Stage and Technical crews, who have risen to the challenge, using excellent imagination and resources to bring Bennett’s and Miss Shepherd’s story to the stage. I am also proud of my wonderful cast, who have worked so hard to bring the play together and who have made my job an utter pleasure. Finally I must thank the Chairman and Committee of Woodford Players for inviting me to direct this wonderful play and for their help and support along the way. Please sit back and enjoy ‘The Lady In The Van’ Carla Stokes Dame Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings in the film version of The Lady in the Van


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