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Barwick Dramatic Societies

Barwicker 9
December 1987

There have been at least three dramatic societies in Barwick in living memory. A performance by one of the earlier groups was reviewed in the Skyrack Courier for April 21st 1911. The programme included three plays, "The Brudenells" by Hamilton Aide, "popping the Question" by J.R.Buckstone and "The Black Boarding House".

The plays were well received and the following villagers were mentioned:
The Brudenells

Miss Wright - Mrs. Brudenell
Mr.Jackson - Mr. Brudenell
Mr.Esdaire - Mr.Eaton
Mr.B.Robshaw - an Italian servant

Popping the Question

Mr.Ben Robshaw - Mr.Primrose
Miss Ingham - maiden lady
Miss Milner ) - maiden lady
Miss Amy Mosby - Miss Helen Murray
Mr.Fred Mosby - her lover
Miss L.Robshaw - Mr.Primrose's ward

The Black Boarding House

Mr. Hy Bramley - Boarding Housekeeper
Mr.Allan Pullan - Servant
Messrs.Alf Bramley - boarder
F.Pullan - boarder
Leighton Smith - boarder
Walter Hewitt - boarder
Mr.J. Brooks of Cross Gates sang "Thora" and "I look for thee in every flower" during the intervals.

In the 1920s a later group put on a number of productions including "Dick Whittington" and even aspired as high as selected scenes from Shakespears "Twelfth Night".

This group included some members from the earlier society and in the same way some members of the 1920s group also became members of the later "Barwick Players", providing some continuity. One such member was Geoff Hartley who was pressed into service at short notice whilst still a small boy. His elder brother was to have played the cat in "Dick Whittington" but when the cat outfit arrived it was found to be too small. However, it fitted Geoff and he was obliged to take the part without rehearsal. Geoff was later a founder member of the Barwick Players of the 1930s.

The more recent group of Barwick Players was formed by Jack Sykes in 1933. He was newly married and had brought his wife, Eva, from what he describes as "the hectic life of Bridlington to the country-quietness of this old-world village of Barwick-in-Elmet." Mrs.Sykes certainly noticed the contrast and in response to her assertion that "the quietness would be her death", Jack decided to get up a concert by way of entertainment.

About a dozen young people joined the group and rehearsed ac che Chapel schoolroom and at the home of Mr and Mrs.Sykes, 24, The Boyle.

As the date of the performance approached it became clear that the chapel school room would not be large enough for the purpose, so permission was sought from the Rector, Mr.Harv~YI to use the school.

0espite prophecies that such a concert would not attract a lar"e audience, the hall was packed on the night of Saturday April 29th 1933. The even ing was a succes 5 a I though the perf ormers h ad to contend -,.,i t n a violent thunderstorm, and £6.1S.8d was raised for the chapel renovation fund (£1 being deducted to meet the expenses of the room etc.)

The concert programme was as follows:

Daisy - opening Chorus
A Bachelor Gay - Jack Sykes
Tripping through the Meadows - Miss Free
Parsons of aarwick - Trio
A Bedtime Story - Miss Plows
Old songs - All
Let's sing like the Birdies sing - Miss L.Hewitt
Curly Headed Babbie - Miss Riley
Singing Lesson (Humour)
He's dead but he won't lie down - Mr J.Reed
A Miner's Dream of Home - Mr.P.Teasdale
Old Sykes's New Lad (Ventriloquist Act)
Smiling Through - Eva Sykes
Wheazy Anna - Chorus


Girls of the Old Brigade - Chorus
My Treasure - Miss Riley
Obadiah's Mother - J.Reed
The Second Minuet - Eva Sykes
Schoolroom Scene
Garden of your heart - Miss Free
Song of Songs
Jack Sykes
Sketch (never given)
Old Memories

Other helpers:
Miss Kitty Bramley on piano
Miss Carrie Bramley
Mr.A.Bramley on tne door
Mr.A.Read - looking after the curtain

After this concert a meeting was called to put the group on a firmer footing and make plans for future productions. Geoff Hartley, Dick Lu rab and Stanley Robshaw were among the first to join the new Society. Members also included Mr.W.Speake, Miss M.Hague and Miss E.Hague, Miss C.Lumb, Miss D.Nutton and a number of others who had taken part in the first show.

The next production was a concert on November 18th, 1933 and was notable for a ballet dance performed by Jack Sykes (in a surplice trimmed with privet and with a wreath round his head) and Geoff Hartley (in a ballet frock made of coloured paper). The performance was apparently inhibited by a certain lack of rehearsal and came close to disaster when the elegant pair almost threw themselves off the stage! However, the item seems to have been much enjoyed by all!

A more ambitious production was attempted next; a pantomime, "Dick Whittington". The script was written by Jack Sykes and Geoff Hartley. Scenery was constructed by candle-light in a leaky hut at the bottom of Jack's garden where preparations continued even during a week of thick fog when visibility was severely limited.

This pantomime featured the famous Sunbeams, a troupe of village children trained by Miss M.Hague and Miss Eva Sykes. The children had already taken part in the previous concert when they had been trained by Miss C.Lumb and Miss M.Hague.

The cast for "Dick Whittington" was as follows:

Dick Whittington Miss Dorothy Nutton
principal Girl Miss Lucy Hewitt
Captain Cuttle Mrs Eva Sykes
Mrs.Peppercorn Miss Kitty Bramley
Shimmy - a native girl Miss Mary plows
Mrs Sarah (The Dame) Jack Reed (played in a ginger wig
Mr.Fullerwealth Percy Deighton
King Konko George Kirk (played in a top hat and raffia skirt)
Brainless Brian (a tramp) Geoff Hartley
Sam Seasalt Jack Sykes
  • Mr.George Hewitt did the lighting.
  • Mr.Speake helped build the stage and took bookings at his shop.
  • Mr.Speake and Mr.Bill Reed were in charge of the curtains.
  • Mr.Reg.Hirst played the piano

  • During the sword fight between Brainless Brian and Sam Seasalt the action got a little bit out of hand when Geoff Hartley backed up too far on Jack Sykes's sword (a real knife) and was made to jump further than he had intended! As on previous occasions, some of the cast had to call on all their resources in making up words when the script suddenly eluded their memories in the excitement of the performance! A total of £13.2.3d was raised for the L.G.I.

    In the Spring of 1934 two further concerts followed with mixed success. During this time Jack Sykes was out of work and his mother was fatally ill. Attempts to buy a pantomine script failed and finally despite all his difficulties, Jack wrote his own script for Cinderella. The cast was as follows:

    Cinderella Marjorie Hewitt
    Peter the page Stanley Robshaw
    Baron Stonebroke George Kirk
    Ivahardheart Hilda Morritt
    Ima Spitfire Lucy Hewitt
    Innkeeper Bert Whitfield
    Florrie (Servant) Celia Poulter
    Prince Charming Dorothy Nutton
    Sir Robert Marion Braithwaite
    Willie Pinchitback Edgar Wilson
    Billy Sellit Richard Lumb
    The Witch Eva Sykes
    The Donkey John Hague and Richard Lumb

    George Hewitt got his friend, Mr.William Watson of Stanks, to do the lighting. This was a great advantage to the players apart from one slight hiccup when Mr.Watson managed to put out all the lights in the schoolmaster's house while strengthening the fusesl Mr.Ashworth, the schoolmaster, was not pleasedl The pantomine raised a total of £15.O.Od.

    The society then moved on to more serious works and obtained three plays by Mr.Hillas, a schoolmaster living in the village at that time. Mr.Hillas had won the priestley prize in 1933 with one of these plays, "Sarah Pullan". The other two were "unlucky Stones" and "No Such Luck".

    The onset of war inevitably interfered with the rate 'of productions and at about this time Mr and Mrs Sykes returned to Bridlington to live. Nevertheless, productions did continue, with further pantomimes. concerts and reviews. In addition, members of the group including the Sunbeams entertained the injured troops, who were being cared for at Seacroft Hospital.

    The group seems to have eventually fizzled out after this, but a number of interesting photos remain to record the various productions and "fuddles" .

    If any readers have further information about any of these dramatic societies, we would be very pleased to hear from them.

    We are most grateful for help in compiling this article from Mrs. Eva Sykes, Mrs.Dorothy Hague and Mr.Geoff Hartley.

    Jane Deacon.

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