An Ayrshire Arts Archive ~ Arts Groups and Venues

Craigie College of Education : A Dramatic History ~ Play List 1964 - 1980

Craigie College of Education : A Dramatic History ~ 1964 - 1980

Over a period of 24 years the staff and students at Craigie College of Education presented quality music and drama in Ayr. This section of the website explores the work of the Ciollege Drama Groups.

 The Crucible

Red-hot Crucible

Craigie College of Education's new drama theatre is a triumph of modern technology. All the latest aids and equipment are available to provide ancillary perfection.

How fitting that the baptism of this building should be provided by a Thespian tour de force! The College Drama Group last week presented 'The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller.

And so we had the splendid spectacle of a fine theatre, powerful dramatic material and superlative acting and production - all packaged up and presented in the same performance.

‘The Crucible' is a play ostensibly about the terrible Salem witch hunt of the late 17th century. But it is more.

Written in the early 1950's, at the time of the McCarthy-inspired Communist panic, it is, in fact, a swingeing indictment on the American mentality - and particularly that of the House of Un-American Activities, who chose to see a Red under every bed.

It is a plea to reason, made at a time when hysteria was the order of the day.

Production was of a consistently high order throughout the College production. Director David Crouch displayed an unerring sensitivity in his efforts to bring out the subtle nuances of what is essentially a 'think-piece'.

Pacing was superb, building up through a series of minor climaxes to an incredibly powerful final act. The first act was, perhaps, a trifle attenuated - but this more a function of the script rather than direction.

The cast was a pleasant balance with a hardcore of experienced actors leavened with a sprinkling of commendably proficient new faces.

Although the standard of acting was uniformly excellent, there were - inevitably - several unforgettable performances.

One such was that of Ken Brice playing the part of Deputy-Governor Danforth. In a 22-carat portrayal, he projected an aura of total authority.

Rod Macadam delivered a perceptive cameo in the role of the Rev. John Hale, handling the metamorphosis from self-righteousness to tortured conscience with consummate skill.

In Eilidh Nicolson, the company had an eminently convincing Elizabeth Proctor. Miss Nicolson had a most demanding part as the 'good woman,' and her ability to convey an atmosphere of restrained emotionalism cannot be praised too highly.

John Robb was effective as the desiccated Judge Hathorne, while David Carter's performance as Rev. Parris was the ultimate distillation of an image of iron Puritanism.

The role of Thomas Proctor received a restrained treatment at the hands of Harry McCracken - some would say too restrained.

Of the young girls who instigated the witch-hunt, Kathryn Longmuir's Abigail. Cordelia Dalgarno's Susanna, and Judith Baird's Mary were all outstanding. Their uninhibited portrayal of the mass hysteria was supremely chilling.

Ann Lunam’s interpretation of the part of Rebecca Nurse was a veritable gem.

Every word that she uttered and every movement she made reinforced the impression created by superb make-up – that of an old woman. Indeed, so effective was she in her portrayal that she made Whistler’s mother look like an airline hostess.

Other parts were efficiently handled by Anne Nicholson, Jane Sells, Marlene Thomson, Tom Cockburn, May Findlay, David Rowe, George Gibson, Bill Sturgeon, Iain Hanlin, Janet Gimson and Quintin Greenall.

In this production of ‘The Crucible’, Craigie College Drama Group once again turn up trumps.

The Ayr Advertiser, March 26th, 1970.

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The Crucible

The Crucible, first production in the new theatre at Craigie College of Education.  Left to Right Mary Findlay (on the bed), Eilidh Nicolson, Cordelia Dalgarno and Judith Baird.     magnify

The Crucible

New Theatre Opens at Ayr College.

Ayr has acquired an asset to its cultural life in the new theatre at Craigie College of Education.

It seats 350 comfortably and the steep ramp justifies the claim of an uninterrupted view of the stage from all parts of the house.  The acoustics are satisfactory and lighting equipment, although not fully exploited in this week's hanselling production of a play on its wide stage appears adequate.

Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible', a challenge to college students and staff, is presented by a cast full of earnest enthusiasm fortified by a strong core of ripe experience, who speak their lines, often declamatory, but drilled to the point that makes the prompter's job a sinecure.

Polished study

Aided by the piercing shrieks of the young witch hunters of Salem - of whom Cordelia Dalgarno's Susanna Walcott is a polished little study and Kathryn Longmuir's Abigail reserves her best moments to the end - the company go a considerable way towards the necessary tension and atmosphere.

There is a properly commanding Danforth in Kenneth Brice, John Robb is a convincing Judge, Rod Macadam is very much the Rev. John Hale, and David Carter a real puritanical Rev. Mr. Parris.

Eilidh Nicolson brings splendid control to her most appealing Elizabeth Proctor but limited vocal range robs Harry McCracken's otherwise assured Thomas Proctor of much of its strength.

David J. F. Crouch's brisk, if rather drably and economically set production, continues until tomorrow.

A. M. G.   March 1970

Images from David J F Crouch (personal collection)

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Twelfth Night

Craigie make it a really top job.

Repertory theatres across the country would do well to better Craigie College's excellent production of William Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'.

The Stratford bard's work is never the easiest to produce and amateurs are often hailed successful if they remember all the words.

With this production, however, it did not take long to realise the prompter was redundant. It was thoroughly professional from beginning to end with many in the cast outstanding.

David Russell as the eccentric and foolish Sir Andrew Aguecheek puts his character over to the audience perfectly. Amateurs often find it difficult to get across the subtle humour of Shakespeare then David's mannerisms helped the audience to see right into the play.

Fun loving

Not surprisingly, David is no newcomer to the stage with several amateur productions in his favour. One man making his acting debut, and making an incredibly good job of it, was Andrew Brown as the drunken fun-loving Sir Toby Belch.

Again, it was the appreciation of another humorous part and how to get it across that made it so successful. The make-up staff are also to be congratulated for giving him such an excellent 'beery' look.

Saskia Lansley as Caesario had the difficult task of playing the 'double' role and members of the audience who had not studied the play were slightly uncertain in parts.

Saskia may have been aware of this but it did not put her off and she also gave a fine performance.


The cast, however, must take some of the blame for the audience's failure to get to grips with the plot in the early scenes.

Admittedly, it is one of Shakespeare's most contrived creations but many of the cast in the opening scenes tended to hurry their lines when they should have been slowing things a little while the audience were trying to take it all in.

Judy Shawl as Olivia had little in the way of movement on the stage so she rightly concentrated on the words and arm gestures. The complete opposite was Ken McKesson as Fester the clown who buzzed about the stage yet made every word perfectly audible.

He also made a fine job of the few songs he had to render.

Annie Rescale as Maria decided to put on an accent which sounded very natural and she did not make the mistake of changing it slightly during the play. Accents are another stumbling block for amateurs but again, this was done very professionally.

Stealing the show, however, was the professional of the cast, drama lecturer Robert Stefan as the sour and often senile Alveoli. His experience told in every aspect of his performance

Serious in the serious parts and delightfully amusing when the script desired – the scene with the cross-strapped tights was outstanding.


As is normal with Craigie productions, make-up, set and lighting were faultless and director David Crouch made excellent use of the tight stage.

The Alveoli balcony scene on the right of the auditorium and the trapdoor prison scene were indeed clever

Bob Shields
Ayrshire Post, March 14, 1975.

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Twelfth Night 4
Malvolio in the Craigie College 1975 production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night
The Craigie College 1975 production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night 14
The Craigie College 1975 production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

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Creative Ayrshire acknowledges the assistance of David J F Crouch (BA, MA, DPhil, Diploma in Drama in Education), Carolyn O'Hara, Ken Walker, Mike Bailey,  Barbara Crouch and the Librarian UWS for the provision of material for this section of the website. 

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