Although the exact ‘opening’ date of the Drama Club remains a matter of debate, and it may well be a little before the one given here, it is clear that the foundation for all that followed was laid by Cyril Malyon’s decision to start an After School ‘Stagecraft’ Group at Markhouse
‘The Fish’ by Yves Cabrol
‘Grand Partiality’ by William Cox
‘A COUPLE OF LARKS’. This was how these two plays were described in the Guardian Newspaper Report and may well be amongst the earliest productions by what, at this date, would have been the newly formed After School Drama Club at Markhouse.
Plus a further report answering our long sought after question of why we have not been able to find anything about a MDC entry in the 1956 Ferstival!
As the overall work and direction of Markhouse School began to change with the arrival of Les Smith as the new Headmaster in 1957, so did the interest and development of the performing arts curriculum – and this, along with the after school drama activities, were soon complemented with the opening of a more structured and supported Drama Club under the auspices of the Walthamstow Youth Service/Marsh Street Youth Centre Evening Class programme
‘Poison, Passion & Petrifaction’ by George Bernard Shaw
‘The Man in the Bowler Hat’ by A A Milne
‘The Family Group’ by Mabel Constandurous
These 3 plays were the Drama Club’s entries in the ‘District Round’ of this annual competition – with the victorious cast of ‘Poison, Passion and Petrifaction’ progressing to the Regional Finals
Read about all 3 plays in the Guardian newspaper reports of the time – plus the possible existence of a film of our winning production!
After a long wait, and thanks to The British Library Archives, we now have our first piece of information, including the cast list and a photograph of the script, of our 1961 production of this One Act Comedy by Cyril Roberts – with the cover of the latter showing it at the remarkable price of a whole 1s – yes, One Shilling – old money!
‘My Views on Co-Education’
‘Opposed to the continuation of National Service’
his Guardian Newspaper Report not only confirms the Drama Club’s entry in this Annual Competition, but also that our team, led by Iris Moorshack’s speech about ‘Co-Education’, walked off with first place – and a place in the County Finals later in the year!
‘Macbeth'(Extract) by William Shakespeare
These entries in this year’s Essex Youth Drama Festival may not have met with the previous year’s success, but the Guardian report does, at least, add 2 further plays to the Website’s production list – and proves that this includes some ‘authentic’ Shakespeare!
See the Walthamstow Guardian Newspaper Report of the Drama Club’s first production of ‘The Rose & The Ring’ – Thackery’s ‘Fireside Pantomime for Great and Small Children’
‘Life in England’
This short, but interesting Guardian Report provides a bit more Drama Club history and its successful involvement in this competition – in winning the Walthamstow District Round and coming 2nd in the Essex County Final – plus perhaps the highest honour of the competition with Iris Moorshack being chosen to represent Essex in the National Public Speaking Competition!
See the Walthamstow Guardian Report, Cast & Stage Management List made up of school pupils, school staff and Drama Club members in Eleanor Farjeon’s ‘The Silver Curlew’ – ‘A Fairy tale with Music’
1960 June: ‘The Plot Thickens’ by Mark Langham and ‘Passion, Poison & Petrifaction’ by George Bernard Shaw ›
This ‘Double Bill’ appears to have been as shrouded in intrigue as one of two plays (Poison, Passion and Petrifaction) is intended to be – firstly in that the Guardian Report ‘suggests’ that the Drama Club had given itself a new name of ‘The Brunswick Players’ and, as their smaller supplementary report shows that both plays suffered, but were also rescued from, the sudden non availability of cast members!
So – who, why or what’ were ‘The Brunswick Players’ – other than all the known members of the Markhouse Drama Club listed as the cast?
‘Bloaters’ by Ella Adkins
‘The Thought Machine’ by Ella Adkins
‘The Man Who Painted his Wife’s Nose’
This Walthamstow Guardian Newspaper Report on the Mark House Drama Festival records the four plays staged and produced wholly by pupils in the Lowhall, Manor, Lea and Lammas House Groups – and which of them ‘won’ the apparently much cherished runners up ‘ORACE’ Trophy!
‘The Princess & The Woodcutter’ by A A Milne
This short play, Directed by Drama Club member Brenda Chapman, was staged at the conclusion of the 1960 Mark House School Prize Giving Evening. The cast and back stage crew included a good number of school pupils who subsequently became established members of the Mark House Drama Club!
This ‘mini’ version of Cinderella which was both the first pantomime to be staged at Markhouse and also the first production written entirely – all in rhyming couplets – by a number of Drama Club members – all of whom were in the school’s 5th year group at that time – and obviously completing this task as a bit of respite between their GCE mocks!
‘A Policeman’s lot is not a happy one’
Walthamstow Guardian Report of Marsh Street Youth Centre/Drama Club Teams winning the Junior Section and coming second in the Senior Section of this closely fought annual competition
The earlier Cast & Stage Management List is now complimented with the newly added Programme Pages and the Guardian Report of this ‘Pirate Adventure’ -with it’s encouraging comments about the Drama Club’s ability to transform its ‘miniature’ stage from a library to a pirate vessell!
Neither the performance or cast details have, as yet, been found for the Drama Club’s first ‘dabbling with Shakespeare’ via Douglas Bryce-Pitt’s hilarious version of ‘Macbeth’ – The Scottish Play – but it must have gone down well with those involved as it was reprised in 1963 as the entry in the Essex Drama Festival. Fortunately the performance and cast details for this later date were well preserved and are shown later in this production chronology.
‘Quality Street’ By J M Barrie
The Guardian Newspaper Report of the 1961 Mark House School Prize Giving Evening confirms that ‘after the ceremonies’ the school Drama Cllub presented an exrtract, from J M Barrie’s ‘Quality Street’.
‘The opportunities for youth today’
‘Leather Coated Cowboys are not a menace’
This Guardian Newspaper Report highlights almost a ‘Clean Sweep’ of the Trophies by Drama Club Members at the 1962 ‘Youth Speak’s Contest – with one 1st place and two 2nd place entries
‘Breathes There A Man ….’ by Conrad Carter
This ‘One Act Play’ that was entered in the 1962 Walthamstow Drama Festival appears, from the Guardian Newspaper Report, perhaps not to have been our finest hour – but nevertheless provides further evidence of the DC’s ongoing commitment to this annual competition.
See the photographs and cast list of the Drama Club’s first production of ‘The Pageant’ – plus the Walthamstow Guardian Newspaper’s encouraging headline titles of ‘Should Have Been on TV’ and ‘School puts on Lively Comedy Play’
‘Murder in Motley’ was a 3 Act Play with, according to the programme, ‘the action taking place in the Drawing Room of Aston House; the home of Sir William Ainslie. The first part of the programme shows an initial cast list with a note advising the audience that in order ‘to enhance your enjoyment of […]
‘Hip Hip Horatious’ by Richard Tydeman
‘Spot The Lady’ by Douglas Bryce-Pitt
‘Katy at School’ by Susan Coolidge
‘One Black Rose’
‘Four Plays for the price of one’ – as reads the first line of a very brief, but ‘historically’ helpful clip from the ‘What’s On’ column in the Walthamstow Guardian Newspaper – confirming the performancse of a further two, previously forgotten, plays – ‘KATY at SCHOOL’ and ‘THE ONE BLACK ROSE’.
Looking back on these titles the ‘historically helpful’ thought is that not only was ‘Spot The Lady’ staged three times, but also that this play along with ‘Hip Hip Horatious’ led to the thought that future festive period MDC productions should also be very ‘pantomim-ish’ – as indeed they of course did!
Unfortunately the following week’s edition did not carry a report on the performances – but read on for what is known about them!
‘Spot The Lady’ by Douglas Bryce Pitt
See the relatively brief – but significantly telling Walthamstow Guardian Report – of our loss in this contest by a mere ‘half of one point’ – rather than a whole ‘one point’ as stated previously – which only makes it feel worse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
See the cast and stage managements list for what Angela Ainley Jeans, the author, describes as a ‘Play for Children and Grown Ups’. ‘Listen to the Wind’ begins and ends in the the Parlour of a large country house in East Anglia – via a series of adventures through other parts of the house, a Gypsy Camp, an Island, The Palace of the Wind Kingdom, a Seashore and the Cavern of Black Thunder Cloud!
‘The Wall’ by Michael Walker
This very challenging and contemporary One Act play by Michael Walker, set in Berlin, was chosen by the Drama Club for its entry in the Essex Drama Festival held at the McEntee Technical School in March 1964.
See the full Cast List, Guardian Newspaper Report and Les Smith’s enthusiastic and complimentary recall, written almost 40 years later, of the Drama Club’s nostalgic second rendition of Thackery’s ‘Fireside Pantomime for Great & Small Children’
Both of the Guardian Newspaper Reports reproduced in the website give clear evidence of the scope and success of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ – and both are well worth reading if you want to be reminded of the strength of the relationships that were developed between the school, its staff (on and behind stage) present pupils and those former pupils who had progressed onto the Markhouse Drama Club.
One of the reports describes this production as a ‘tour de force’ wherein ‘hardly a trick was missed’ and never an ‘incident was omitted’ – ‘All of Lewis Carroll’s story was there!
‘Life is Like That’ has a significant role within the MDC production chronology, in that it is the only play that was written by a member of the Markhouse School staff – despite so many of them being involved in so many other ways (including a fair amount on stage) over the 20 odd years of the MDC’s existence. The ‘main’ author and person ‘responsible’ was Eric Griffiths with, as the programme notes confirm, the further ‘interpolation, interpretation and mutilation’ of the script, by Chris Smith – and inevitably Cyril himself – plus, no doubt, the recommendations and views of the other ‘non involved’ and ‘spectating’ staff during the ‘upstairs’ staff room tea breaks!
The Drama Club’s ‘ RUMBUSTIOUS PIECE OF STAGE ENTERTAINMENT’ portraying the History of England from 1066 onwards – as described by the Walthamstow Guardian!
See the full photo gallery, cast list and Guardian Newspaper Report of this great production!
Read the Walthamstow Guardian Newspaper Report describing the School Drama Club as “Another young company which is brave enough to put on its shoulders all kinds of material’ – which, on this occasion was the classic A A Milne story of ‘Make Believe’ – a cast of pupils from all the school years, duly aided and abetted by a good number of ex pupils who had continued their involvement at the Mark House Drama Club!
Click to see Photographs and the newly added ‘LAST SHOW – FIRST PANTO’ pre show article by the Walthamstow Guardian Newspaper – plus their full report and cast photograph of the actual performance!
The recently ‘unearthed’ Poster for this production sheds a good deal of light on perhaps the most important period in the Drama Club’s history. It announces that ‘Babes in the Wood’ – on the 15th, 16th & 17th December 1965 – was ‘Scheduled as our first Christmas Pantomime – NOW – our last dramatic presentation’. ‘The closing of the School means the end of a Drama Group which has flourished for several years – PLEASE SUPPORT OUR FINAL EFFORT!
But – as we well know these words proved to be somewhat premature – as ‘behind the scenes’ plans were afoot and ‘Babes’ was soon to be followed by another production – of ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ in April 1966 – and many more over the next 11 years!
Ian Hay and P.G.Wodehouse’s brilliant comedy, ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, occupies a significant place in the Drama Club’s history in that it was the last play to be performed whilst Markhouse existed as a school – albeit by only a couple of weeks before it ‘closed’ at the end of the 1966 Summer Term.
‘Baa Baa’ also marked the start of a new era where, almost as soon as the final curtain fell, the whole of the upper part of the premises began to be developed into a Youth Theatre – with a rebuilt stage, designated costume and scenery bays/rooms, a coffee bar, box office, a rehearsal room and, not too long after, even a sound studio – all planned and undertaken by the members! More significant was the fact that the new Youth Theatre became accessible throughout the week and so led to an expansion of both the number and range of plays and films – and all the activities that backed these up.
‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ was exactly the right play to be staged at this time – its success gave everyone the added enthusiasm that was needed for the opportunities that laid ahead.
See the Walthamstow Guardian Report of ‘Baa Baa’ – and of the Drama Club’s future ‘post school’ plans!
Shortly after the Drama Club’s final production of ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ on it’s then ‘miniature’, but much cherished stage, the doors of Markhouse were closed – albeit only as a School – and then, only for a few days later, re-opened at the start of it’s new and equally successful role in serving the young people of the surrounding neighbourhoods as The Markhouse Youth Centre!
This is the only photograph, taken during rehearsals, that is presently available from this pantomime – but it is fortunately not the only piece of memorabilia that has now come to light – as a Guardian Newspaper Report and a copy of the inner two pages of the programme has been found – so browse on to see the Cast and Backstage Lists, a few words by Cyril and some brief comment about the ‘MDC Association’ and its ‘formal’ title at that time!
See the Walthamstow Guardian Report making encouraging comments about both the play and the ‘startling results’ of the Drama Club’s revamped stage and theatre setting!
1967 June: One Year On! – The new Markhouse ‘Teenage Theatre’ Opens & Parents and Supporters Committee formed! ›
In the period following the re-organisation of Secondary Education in the Borough, and the consequent closure of Markhouse School, there was clearly a good deal of ‘behind the scenes’ discussion taking place about the future use of the premises – with, it would seem, Stan Raynor, the Warden of the nearby Marsh Street Youth Centre, doing his very best to ensure that it would continue to serve the young people of the area – and doing so with obvious success!
The Guardian’s ‘Teenage Theatre’ report also confirms the formation of a ‘Parents & Supporters’ Committee.
This was the first screening of ‘Three’s A Crowd’ which was created, devised and produced by the members of Markovian Films under the direction of Peter Kett and filmed at the former Battersea Park Fun Fair in London – just a few years before it was destroyed by fire and closed down. The full version of the film can be seen on the Website link to ‘Markovian Films’
Other than it’s title, no further details are known of the One Act play – ‘The Telephone Call’ – nor of a further play of the same length that it is thought may have also formed part of the overall programme. The latter play may be among those ‘undated plays’ listed at the end of the Website’s Production Pages.
See the recently added full cast and backstage list of the Drama Club’s production of Wilfred Massey and Kent Richards Comedy/Farce set in the Sunnyacres Health Resort
‘From School to theatre’. Click to see the newly added Walthamstow Guardian Newspaper Report of this ‘light hearted crime thriller’ by Jack Last – along with some further comments about the Drama Club’s transformation of the school into a ‘bright, cheerful and cosy Little Theatre’
Click to see the Guardian Report that has now been added to the Photo Gallery & Cast List of this original ‘self written’ swashbuckling adventure – beginning with Fairy Twinkletoes immortal lines:
“The Fairy of this pantomime I be, With Wings and Wand as you can see. From a Copter I have come, To see this story is unspun’ etc
See the Walthamstow Guardian Report, Cast & Stage Management List and some programme notes of this reprieve of ‘The Pageant’
According to the programme notes ‘The ‘Happiest Day’s of our Lives’, had often been in mind when play selection had been discussed, but that it was only after the stage was re-built and enlarged that it had become a feasible venture – presumably as the larger performing area could then do justice to the ‘actions’ required in this ‘well known and loved Comedy Farce of its time! See the Guardian Newspaper Report of this great play to be in and, for the ‘behind the scenes’ crew, plenty of scope to build another full sized set!
See the cast and back stage lists of this Annual Panto,along with the Guardian’s Drama Editor’s view on our ‘Private Theatre’ and, in respect of the Drama Club having been recently received a NODA Award, that ‘NEVER MORE WAS THE AWARD SO TRULY DESERVED’
Guardian Report – ‘Marsh Street Drama Club at Walthamstow has been awarded the Constance Power Trophy by the National Operatic & Dramatic Association – and never more was the award so truly deserved’
Cathode Elysium Lights was founded and run by Terry Hooker, John Oatham, Dave Pauldine and Sid Worth as a new and quite different form of the performing arts – all with the aid of a store room just behind the stage, a couple of old projectors, a supply of ink and – a can of oil!
See the Guardian Report and cast and backstage lists of the Drama Club’s production of John Dighton’s play set in the window of Hathaway’s Store in Oxford Street, London.
T.C. Thomas’s One Act ‘situation comedy’ – They Simply Fade Away’, is set in the interior of the Signal Box at Penrhlw, a lonely railway station on the Beacons – where, according to the script notes, the characters are ‘all too matter-of-fact to be over sentimental about the loss of their railway’.
Unfortunately only 1 cast member identified – so far!
See the Guardian Report, Photo Gallery & Cast List for the 1969 Annual Pantomime of ‘Little Miss Muffet’ – and her accompanying entourage of Nursery Rhyme characters!
Guardian Preview and Performance Reports for this ‘Whitehall Style’ farce that was clearly great fun to be in – and which confirmed the temporary ‘nudging aside’ of ‘Mr M’ to introduce an aspiring new ‘in house’ producer!!!
The script of ‘Saloon Bar’ shows that this ‘Play in 3 Acts’ was first produced at Wyndham’s Theatre, London. The play is set in the Saloon bar of ‘the Cap & Bells’ Public House in the triangle bounded by Shaftesbury Avenue, Charing Cross Road and Oxford Street.
The Guardian Report was under the title of ‘Just Like A Pub’ – as indeed intended!
Although the exact date of this production is unknown the MDC cast list is now included on the website!
In addition to the Guardian Report under the title of ‘Plenty of Good Fun’ the photographic gallery includes a well worn copy of the programme – complete with Gordon’s interesting and amusing article about ‘Pantomime Dames’ – the MDC versions!!!!
See the Cast List and a gallery of photographs taken at a rehearsal for this production of Charles Dyer’s ‘Wanted – One Body’ – a ‘who dunnit-thriller’ set in the Lounge of the late Mr Barraclough’s stately home – ‘Greenacres’
Walthamstow Guardian Report on the MDC’s ‘ANNUAL BIT OF NONSENSE AND FUN’ now added for this 1971 Pantomime of ‘Red Riding Hood’ – along with the NODA Report showing their thoughts on this ‘ANNUAL PANTOMIME ROMP’ – being a ‘perfect example of ‘industry and teamwork’
The Walthamstow Guardian’s normal weekly ‘Productions to See’ column unusually gives, on this occasion, a ‘postponement’ notice and both the announcement of a ‘debut’ and apparent change in the cast for the forthcoming production of ‘Anybody for Tennis’ – with these relating to ‘Daphne Carroll and Gill Langridge – about to become Gill Oliver – respectively!
‘Four Queens Wait for Henry’ by L du Garde Peach
‘Her Husband’s Harem’ by Sam Bates
‘Speeches & Cream’ by Richard Tydeman
See the cast lists and photographs for these three One Act Plays performed by the Drama Club’s newly created ‘Intermediate Group’
The recently unearthed copy of the Walthamstow Guardian’s report of the Drama Club’s reprise of this all time favourite pantomime – ‘Babes in the Woods’ – appears in this part of the website under the aptly named title of ‘A JOLLY ROMP’ – so if you were in the production – read on!
See the Cast List and a copy of the original Walthamstow Guardian Newspaper Report of the Drama Club’s performance of Arnold Ridley’ s (Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army) well known and often performed play – with a rare cameo performance from ‘Mr M’.
The Drama Club’s production of Verne Morgan’s ‘QUEEN of HEARTS’ became the first annual pantomime to get ‘an extended run’ – with the usual pre Christmas performances being complemented with more after the festive break – presumably, by the look for the photographic evidence, to give certain cast members time to recover from the usual ‘knock- about’ and ‘slapstick’ mayhem!
‘Ask a Silly Question’ by Richard Tydeman
‘The Cinderella Story’ by Kenneth Lillington
‘Man in A Bowler Hat’ by A A Milne
‘Black Comedy’ by Peter Shaffer
See the NODA Report on the above plays – with lots of members being mentioned for their performance – so, if you were in the cast – read on!
See the cast list and a goodly selection photographs from the 1975 Annual Pantomime of ‘Puss in Boots’ – which looks as if the costume department discovered a large amount apparel which led to the scene becoming set north of Hadrian’s Wall! Obviously a good number of ‘snappy dressers’ within the membership at this time!
See the full copy of The NODA Report and cast list for the Drama Club’s performance of this comedy by John Chandler
1975 December: ‘The Four Muskateers’ by Peter Lee & John Payne in collaboration with Anne Albiston, Jill Haydon & Margaret Lee ›
This ‘member written’ panto was apparently chosen ‘because no one had ever produced it before as a panto’ – also because, according to the programme, the authors were bored, boozy and barmy and looking to save the licence fee and script costs – e.g. all the essential ingredients for a MDC Panto!
The full cast list and notes from the recently ‘re-discovered’ programme of this epic tale have now been added – plus a question mark about whether what looks like a plagiarised song from ‘Round The Horn’ was used in the panto???
As the programme notes of the what proved to be the last of the eagerly anticipated and always enjoyed annual pantomimes, appropriately quip – “February is hardly the time one would expect to go and see a Pantomime – but then, after all, this is the Markhouse Drama Club!
The cast list and a number of photographs from this ‘sad’ occasion have fortunately been preserved – for posterity!
The Markhouse Drama Club sadly pulled the final curtain on its ‘Little Theatre’ on the retirement of Cyril Malyon from his teaching and youth work career in 1977. However, it was not, as this photograph shows, without this being marked by past and present members expressing their appreciation for what he achieved over the previous 20 plus years!
The full photo gallery of the ‘Farewell’ event held at the ‘Markhouse Theatre’ on the 21st October 1977, is shown in the Website’s Re-Union Page
Not quite on the scale of ‘Grand Theft Auto’ – but this film tells the the tale of a desperate teenage gang of car thieves taking advantage of local car owners parking in the roads around Hoe Street , Walthamstow – all made much worse by their audacity in setting up their ‘Used Car Sales Lot’ in the same area – in the car-park just off Queens Road!
Some 40 plus years after the film was made it was rumoured, but not believed, that the script was based on a real life account of several of the cast members!!!!
As with a number of the so far undated plays performed at the Drama Club, the only memorabilia available is that of John Payne’s ‘involvement’ – based on his name being on the script cover – and the script itself with it’s helpful listing of the characters – most, if not all, still waiting to be named!
See the dastardly action of this violent and ruthless local gang through the ground breaking drama-documentary made by Markovian Films – where the names of the cast have been deleted to protect the witnesses!!!! See ‘Hold Up’ through the Home Page link to ‘Markovian Films’
The script of Richard Tydeman’s ‘Red Hot Cinders’, describes the play as a ‘potted version of the Cinderella pantomime’ – just the thing for your Christmas Party, Summer Fete, Club Night, Night Club, Curtain – raiser, hall – emptier, Drama School, Revue Item, Prologue, Epilogue and a hundred and one other occasions – in fact, the very thing you have been looking for, to put on with the very minimum of preparation.
Whilst the date of this production is unknown, the cast names were noted within a script that had been, fortunately, saved!
The action of this play takes place in the living room of the Scudamore’s house – 66 Pinetops Avenue, North London – with just one known member of the Drama Club listed in the cast and 14 others, along with the production date, still to be revealed!
Anthony Booth’s drama ‘The Living Hell’ is set in a steamy jungle hut in the Far East during the 2nd World War – where the imminent advent of the Japanese Army is of concern
The play had an all female cast.
See Cast List of this One Act Play where the script, and presumably the subsequent programme, helpfully advises the audience that Gordon – playing ‘The Narrator’ – ‘Has a Book’ . Most of the other characters have similarly ‘interesting’ information against their names!