They came to a city
By J. B. Priestley
Sir George Gedney
Lighting and Effects
Jon D. Needham
Lesley Smith, Fiona Collie,
Valerie Peate & Dina Parsons
Ross G. W. Pobertson & David Shillibier
Slowly the curtains part, revealing grey walls silhouetted against a dawn sky. The sky lightens; bewildered, frightened voices are heard, and a group of people, chosen by some mysterious agency, meet together before the heavy black door which will soon open for them to visit the city below, growing ' even clearer as the sun rises.
This city is UTOPIA as Priestley envisages it; a place where, purged of selfishness and greed, human beings live in peace and harmony in an idyllic society.
Those who are given a chance to spend a few hours in this city have been carefully selected to represent English society as the author saw it thirty years ago, composed of the privileged and underprivileged in perpetual conflict in the struggle for survival in an unjust and imperfect world.
As the sun begins to set and the walls gradually darken, the door re-opens. The travellers meet again to discuss their experiences and to make their decision. They have the choice of remaining or returning to their own world.
Mrs. Batley has no doubt. After a life of unselfish and unremitting service to
others, she has at last come home. Pausing only to collect her shopping bas
ket, she passes serenely through the door to a well-deserved rest.
Philippa Loxfield, too, makes her way back into the city, finding at last a
sense of purpose in the prospect of a life of meaningful activity.
Her mother and Sir George, unable to face change, return to the security of
their familiar world, together with the business tycoon, Cudworth, who cannot
adjust to a life in which money-making plays no part.
Malcolm Stritton, the
bank clerk, however, regretfully leaves the city which embodies his dreams to
accompany his unhappy, selfish and demanding wife back to their suburban
Alice and Joe, dissatisfied, disillusioned by the society in which they live, are drawn together by a common vision of an ideal life. They see in the city the realisation of all their hopes and dreams, but have the courage to say farewell to the chance of certain happiness in order to go back and tell the world to fight for the establishment of their dream city on earth.
The play, then, is a play of ideas rather than action, dependent for success upon the united skills of actors, stage designers and those responsible for lighting and effects.
The combined Drama Group of Boscombe Convent and St. Peter's Schools, in their first production met the challenge, triumphantly, as was shown by the absorbed attention, laughter and spontaneous applause of the audiences on the 19th and 20th February.
Miss Johns, with her helpers from the Art Department, Mr. Robertson and his assistant at the switchboard, created a perfect setting in which the cast acted with an assurance and maturity deserving the highest praise.
Of the individual performances, Rita Wilson, ably partnered by Don Pitts as Joe, acting with an instinctive sense of timing, gave a poignancy to the role of Alice; while Jane Phillips was an outstanding Mrs. Batley. Her natural ease of movement, her unforced humour were in vivid contrast to the controlled hysteria of Gay Rees as Mrs. Stritton. Jon Needham conveyed the diffidence of her husband, and their final scene together in which he resigned himself to a return to the life he hated, was most moving.
Joanne Rolfe and Gabrielle Francis once again made a well-matched pair. Joanne was particularly successful, giving a convincing air of authority and dignity to the role of the elderly aristocrat.
The somewhat unrewarding roles of Sir George and Cudworth were ably performed by John Hill and William Kerr, the latter stressing the unlikeable aspects of J. B. Priestley's conception of the business man in a capitalist society.
These performances, however, must not be judged in isolation. As a producer, Mrs. Roper excels in blending into an artistic whole, the qualities of her team both on stage and behind the scenes. It was this sense of unity that made "They Came to a City" an outstanding first production for the new drama group. Those from both schools who worked so hard over the past months,
Public Speaking Report 1975 - 76
Another year has passed by and, once again, the duty of forming a public speaking team has fallen to the Lower Sixth. Four members of the class volunteered their services: Gay Rees, the main speaker; Catherine Lucas, the proposer of the vote of thanks; Jane Phillips, the seconder; and the chairman (who has been commissioned to write this report).
Gay Rees chose as the subject of her speech `We are all Middle Class, aren't we?' A statement, which, though being controversial, allowed her to write a very witty and humorous account.
The rest of the team composed their speeches in accordance with Gay's. As in previous years, Mrs. Roper, the school's speech and drama teacher, sacrificed her spare time in coaching us. Her invaluable instruction greatly assisted in the building up of a polished and sucessful team.
We entered for both the Knights of St. Colomba and the Rotary Club Competitions. There are four rounds in each contest.
On the twenty-fifth of November the local finals of The Knights of St. Colomba were held at St. Peter's school. Only three teams had entered, two from St. Peter's and, of course, our own team.
Luckily, we were drawn last and were, therefore, able to listen to the boys first. The boys' `B' team had chosen the same subject as we had; they even used a quote which Gay had in her own speech! This unnerved us slightly, but we managed to deliver our performance without any mistakes, and this was enough to give us first place.
Having won the local finals, the team advanced to the Regional finals at Southampton, on the seventeenth of January. This Round was held at the Science Block of the University, and here we met some tough opposition. teams had entered in all, including the boys from St. John's College, and teams from as far afield as Basingstoke and the Channel Islands. Once again we were drawn last and this immediatley boosted our confidence.
knew that we would have to excel ourselves if we were to win. This we did, and the judges pronounced the team from Boscombe Convent the winners. The trip home was one of the happiest rides in a coach that I can remember!
The subsequent presentation of the Area Shield to the team, by the Knights of St. Colomba, was a memorable occasion.
However, we were soon to come down to earth with a bump! On the thirtyfirst of January the first round of the Rotary Public Speaking Competition took place at Avonbourne School. Together with other schools in the Bournemouth area, we and our old friends from St. Peter's entered. St. Peter's whole team had been reshuffled and this time they were truly excellent. Somehow, our team lacked that extra sparkle which had given us victory twice before, and the boys won this round most deservedly.
So we must now set our sights on the Semi-Finals of the Knights of St. Colomba to be held in London in March, and, perhaps, we shall reach the National Finals, as did our School team in 1974!
Even if we do not, I can safely say that the experience of talking to a large audience has been of invaluable help in our ordinary lives. Once again, on behalf of the team, I would like to thank everyone who has helped us, especially Mrs. Roper and Sister Margaret.
Sarah Tolhurst, Lower Sixth
We won the semi-finals. Now for the Finals in May!