68th Season - 2009/2010

Note: Performances at 7.30pm with no performances on Sunday or Monday except where stated.
There is usually an exhibition of the work of local artists in the Foyer during a production.
Highbury Theatre Centre and Highbury Players Management Meeting Dates

21 June 2009 - Familiarisation Evening

22nd September  - 3rd October 2009 

Whose Life is it Anyway?
by Brian Clark (Play for Today) 

First stage performance 1978
4 female, 9 male
When sculptor Ken Harrison is permanently paralysed in an accident, he resolves to die rather than live in his physically helpless state. His struggle for the right to die makes a gripping play, which explores the issues of human dignity and medical ethics with wit and compassion.

This play has been chosen as the first of the season because it concerns a very topical issue, and yet it has some very funny moments. The main character does not wallow in self-pity, but he refuses to allow other people to tell him what is best for him. Also, the fact that it has a large male cast, one of whom is black, means that we will have more opportunity to recruit the necessary players before the summer holiday period starts. The set does not pose any particular technical challenges, since most of the action is set in a hospital ward.  

20th  – 31st October 2009 

by Polly Teale (New Play)

First performed October 2008
7 female, 2 male
When a wealthy and successful couple, with a glamorous life style, decide to adopt, they are aware only of how much they long for a baby. However, the baby’s troubled mother, a prostitute and drug-user, comes to haunt them, and their lives become entangled in a way that no-one could have imagined.

This powerful exploration of the meaning of parenthood is well suited to the intimate atmosphere of the studio. Technically, the play will pose a number of challenges, as a large dolls’ house will need to be constructed. Skilfully-designed lighting will be crucial to evoking the different venues and moods of this play. 

10th- 21st November 2009 

by David Tristram (New play) 

Published 2008; not yet performed
On Saturday 14 November Highbury is hosting the LTG Conference.
Following the evening performance on that day David Tristram will take part in a Question & Answer session.
1 female, 2 male
The Great Gordo, an alcoholic stage hypnotist in the twilight of his career, randomly chooses Briggs, a policeman, as his next stooge. Gordo heads home after the show, but Briggs follows him. The mind games begin, the stakes are raised, and who knows what will be the outcome in this comic thriller?

We thought that this play would enable us to keep our good links with the author, who has expressed an interest in being invited to participate in the production in some way. This would be a world premiere for Highbury. Technically, it would require a minimalist, multi-purpose set, with the stage show taking place in front of the tabs. It would require the performance of some “magic” tricks! 

22nd December 2009 – 2nd January 2010 

Treasure Island 
by Phil Willmott (Play with Music) 

First performed 2005
8 female, 8 male, 5 pirates of either sex
Billy Bones has stolen a treasure map, but dies before he can find the booty. Honest Jim Hawkins sails with Long John Silver and other pirates to search for it. They try to steal the treasure, but happily, Jim outwits them in the end. Rollicking entertainment for the whole family!

This is a cheerful adaptation of the famous novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, and includes as many female pirates and adventurers as male ones. The set could be as minimalist or as complicated as we wish to make it, but gives lots of scope for our talented set builders. The biggest challenge is the construction of a parrot puppet, which is worked by Captain Flint. There is also scope for adding our own songs, and we will need the existing songs set to music.

I envisage that we could use the pirate theme to great advantage as part of the whole theatre experience. For example, we could invite audience members to come dressed as pirates, and have children’s drawings of pirates around the foyer area.

2nd – 13th February 2010

Cash on Delivery 
by Michael Cooney (Comedy) 

First performed September 1996
4 female, 6 male
Eric Swann, unknown to his wife, has been making fraudulent benefit claims, aided by his Uncle George. His lodger, Norman, opens the door to a claims inspector, Mr Jenkins, and deceptive mayhem follows – as do the undertaker, bereavement counsellor, psychiatrist, Norman’s fiancé and the ominous Ms Cowper. A fast-paced comedy with wonderful characters.

This play will certainly lift our audiences’ spirits in those gloomy February days. The characters provide marvellous challenges for the actors, whilst the set is relatively straight-forward, although we do need a functioning window-seat in which a body can be stowed! 

23rd  February – 6th March 2010 

Strictly Murder 
by Brian Clemens (Free Choice) 
First performed February 2006
2 female, 3 male 
In 1939, an English couple live in idyllic isolation in France, but Suzy’s life is thrown into turmoil when it seems that Peter may be a ruthless killer. In the developing tissue of lies, subterfuge and murder, she no longer knows who to believe. A fast-moving thriller of bluff and counter-bluff.

This thriller, by the celebrated TV dramatist, is full of twists and turns, and we think the Highbury audiences will love it. We have suggested this as a studio play, because it has a small cast, is rather too short for the Main House, and could give an opportunity for a new or relatively new director to gain experience.  

16th – 27th March 2010

The Birthday Party 
by Harold Pinter (English Classic)

First performed April 1958
2 female, 4 male
Unemployed pianist Stanley lodges with Petey and Meg. When two mysterious strangers turn up, Stanley wants to get rid of  them, but they plan a party with Meg to celebrate his birthday. As the party progresses, the sense of menace grows stronger, and things get out of control.

We thought it would be a good idea to pay tribute to Harold Pinter, who died earlier this year, and whose work has had such a profound influence on the theatre. This play provides great challenges for the cast, and would need an experienced director. Technically, it would not require a complex set, and all the action takes place in the same room.

13th – 24th  April 2010 

by Kate Atkinson (Play for Today) 

First performed in July 2000
5 female, 2 male
Elizabeth, recently separated, has moved into a Victorian house, and wants to be left alone. However, her best friend, sister, mother, the builder and a photographer have other ideas. A former resident of the house, disturbed from her resting-place, stirs long forgotten memories reminding us that the past is never far away.

This play is a complex mix of social comedy and family drama, and does not present any challenges technically. It could give an opportunity for a new or relatively new director to gain experience.

4th– 15th May 2010 (Double Bill) 

The Regina Monologues 
by Rebecca Russell and Jenny Wafer (Free choice)

First performed 2004
6 female
The Regina Monologues relate the experiences of six women, all involved at varying times with the same man. The discarded wife, the faded beauty, the  naïve mistress, the intelligent thinker, the vulnerable yet sometimes assured teenager, and the composed widow provide echoes of the experiences of the six wives of Henry VIII.

The set is dominated by a large double bed centre stage. The set and props are shared by all of the women, and skilful lighting would be essential to create the different moods of this one-act play. 

by Joanna Murray-Smith (Play for Today)

First performed 2001
1 female
One performer creates four characters from the different worlds of the exhausted mother, the reluctant presenter of a talk on cacti, a teenage performer, a bride, a lonely widow and an ageing diva. The common thread between them all is the humour and pathos of how they see the world.

This play will provide a huge challenge for a talented actress. Neither play offers any technical difficulties.

NB Both plays contain some swearing and would need a warning for the audience. 

15th – 26th June 2010

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 
by Edward Albee (International Classic) 
First performed October 1962
2 female, 2 male
When middle-aged Martha and her husband George are joined by the younger Nick and Honey for late-night drinks after a party, the stage is set for a night of drunken recriminations and revelations. Battle-lines are drawn as Martha and George drag their guests into their own private hell of a marriage. 

We felt we would like to end the season with a play which we have not done at Highbury for many years, and which is extremely well known.  

14th- 17th July 2010

Earth and Sky 
by Douglas Post (Free Choice)
An a
dditional Play to the normal Season for four nights only to raise money for the Development Fund .

First performed in February 1991
3 female, 6 male

A poetic thriller, set in Chicago. Sara’s lover David, is found murdered. The police imply he was a criminal, but Sara begins her own investigation. As the story moves forward in time, scenes from the love affair take us back to the lovers’ meeting, until Sara comes face to face with the murderer.

The Arts Committee originally considered this play last year, but its structure dictates that it must run as continuous action, which lasts about 100 minutes. We tried to find something to go with it, but eventually decided that it should be offered on its own as a fund-raiser. It could only run for 4 nights, because of other theatre commitments.

The set can be very simple, with lighting and sound creating the Chicago setting.