Report on the NMDS by Roger Dean
The North Mymms Dramatic Society (NMDS) was founded in 1949 by Lilian Charkham, known affectionately by the members as 'Lil'.
Some of the first productions - 'Flare Path', 'I Remember Mama', 'The Corn is Green', and many more, were put on in the very decrepit hall that was just near the gates to Hatfield House (opposite the station) - but has since long gone. When the Hatfield Technical College was built, several productions were performed there.
The construction of the Memorial Hall in Welham Green incorporated a stage made according to specifications given by Lilian Charkham. It opened, in November 1957, and the following week the society put on 'Treasure Hunt' as its first show there. Tickets cost five shillings and three shillings. 'Dear Octopus' followed in January 1958.
From then on, almost every year the society put on three shows of wide variety: 'Trelawny of the Wells', 'Diary of Anne Frank' (probably the most ingenious set it ever did, two distinct heights), 'Doctor in the House', 'The Farmer's Wife', 'Quiet Weekend', 'I Capture a Castle', 'The Browning Version', 'Peace in our Time', (John Hallem from Bluebridge Road had a large part in this and then took off to Hollywood to be in films, 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' being one of his biggest), 'Waiting in the Wings' (the only show Lil both directed and took a part in), 'Nine to Five', 'Quiet Wedding', 'Separate Tables', 'Badger's Green', 'The Miracle Worker' (story of Helen Keller - in which there was a working well on stage from which several jugs and containers of water were 'drawn' - (Bill Terry made this from, amongst other bits, an old WWII stirrup pump!).
The society also did several Shakespeare plays: 'Merchant of Venice' and 'Macbeth' are particularly remembered. These were taken to the Duthy Hall at Elephant and Castle for their Festival. 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' was staged in a natural amphitheatre in North Mymms. Other historical plays followed: 'The Hollow Crown' and 'The Business of Good Government' were performed in St Mary's church. These are only a very small number of the shows - there were many, many more.
The NMDS folded when Lil and and her daughter Brana moved away in 1978. After this Trevor Hampton did produce a couple of plays, but he was also producing and directing for the BBC, and really time was so scarce for him that he couldn't carry on. (Twenty or so years later he came to see every one of the North Mymms Players shows - and loved them all.)
The very last social occasion the NMDS had, was held in the Brookmans Park Hotel in 1964, when there was a screening of 'The Pendulum Pushers'. It shows Doris Childs delivering posters in Brookmans Park, and William Childs in many settings, including one sitting out in London in his lunch break, learning lines.
The mother and son walking down the garden path were Margaret Gilbert and son Mark with dad, Alan, watching from the balcony, with either Helen or Caroline (Mark's sisters). lt is Mark putting a poster up on the tree. Sitting on the ground at a children's play area, is Joy Carter with her dog. Anne Graham is waiting for the train on Brookmans Park Station. Brian Coombe's wife, (as she was then), Doreen, is holding their baby son. lvy Nash is delivering posters in Welham Green, riding her bike to get around. Jean Atkinson is driving a minibus and helping people in and out. Richard Papworth is doing the lights backstage. Gordon Simmons (who used to run the Brookmans Park Garage) appears all over the place. Janet Spragge (nee Kean from the Welham Green chemist) running the cubs. Bob Wall, who was something to do with Arsenal, was the chairman of the society and can be seen in committee with Graham Humphrey.
There is a scene in the film, of members selling tickets on the green in Brookmans Park. For around three Saturday mornings leading up to the shows a 'box office' was set up outside what is now, Hollywood hairdressers, manned mostly by Amanda Sherlock, Anne Graham and Judith Terry selling well through rain, snow and sunshine. Amanda's mother Kath Humphrey was the official ticket office.
I'd love to know if my uncle appears in this. He was the head waiter at Brookmans Park Hotel from the 50's up until 1964. Hi married the waitress and they moved to America - Frank Hancock and Eileen Brading (was Warland)ReplyDelete