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.

  Romeo and Juliet

One must commend the Activities Committee of Craigie College for tackling Shakespeare (writes Bill Prentice).

Their production of Romeo and Juliet was an admirable endeavour even if an uneven achievement.

The Play was handsomely mounted on the open stage in a single set by Fred Bull. Roman pillared and Latin mottoed, with the lighting providing change of environment and atmosphere.

The large cast was effectively deployed by the director, David Crouch. In particular, the stately dance looked enjoyable and the several fights looked dangerous and deadly.

Richard Pugh was a sprightly and spirited Mercutio, elegantly acrobatic, ebulliently clowning and stylish in the Queen Mab imagery.

He was sympathetically partnered by Roy Beeby as an easygoing and amiable Benvolio.

Janet Gimson provided an entertaining portrayal of Juliet's Nurse, in which she impressively combined bawdy humour and peasant dignity. Mike Bailey contributed a benign, friendly and worried Friar Lawrence.

As the tender Juliet, Elaine Cardin smiled prettily and acted lovingly, but her voice was too soft to cope with the merciless tattoo of rain on the roof. Ken o'Hara played a gentle, forlorn and melancholy Romeo.

The players were backed up by an ample team of students on technical and clerical jobs behind the scenes.

Ayrshire Post, December 1979

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Romeo 1
Craigie College Drama Group. The 1979 production of Romeo and Juliet  Images from David J F Crouch (personal collection) magnify

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The decision by Craigie College to stage Bertholt Brecht's modern classic, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, was at once bold and ambitious, for this type of theatre, compounding as it does, drama, music and dancing, can so easily come unstuck - but the production in the College Theatre on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings of last week showed the choice to be justified.

The pitfalls attendant upon the management of so large a cast and the effecting of numerous scene changes were surmounted without difficulty. The various elements of the play, moreover, were smoothly welded together and in this regard much credit attaches to the contribution of Donald Frame, who as Arkadi Tsheldse, was narrator, musician and singer.

The prelude focuses on the dispute between two peasant communities over the ownership of a valley. The rival groups are told a story, the enactment of which constitutes the play proper.

It begins with a palace revolution in mediaeval Georgia , during which a servant maid Grusha rescues the infant son of Natella, the governor’s wife after he is abandoned by his mother. Grusha carries the child to safety, surviving the hardships of a long and difficult journey on foot over snow-capped mountains and escaping pursuing troops.

For the infant's sake she enters into a marriage of convenience with a peasant but, after this, soldiers take the child away from her.

The action of the play then returns in time to the day of the revolt and focuses on the implications for Azdak, a rascally village clerk who is appointed judge by the rebellious soldiers.

The finale concerns Azdak's judgement in the case between Grusha and Natella for possession of the child - an issue that is decided in the servant maid's favour by the test of 'The Chalk Circle'.

Anni Eskdale offered a delightful and well-sustained character portrait in the formidable role of Grusha, while Saskia Langley as Natella achieved the essential contrasting qualities of aristocratic hauteur and selfish indulgence.

There was not a more convincing performance, however, than that of Robert Stefani as Grusha’s soldier-lover, Simon. A talented actor, he invests the part with the simple dignity and natural charm it required. He was especially effective in the scene in which he renounces his love for Grusha after learning of her marriage and apparent betrayal.

Worthy of mention too, was the performance of Brian Martin as Azdak. He contrived to inject the right degree of roguishness and robustness into his characterisation and exploited well the possibilities of the part.

In a cast of this size it is impossible to review every performance. Suffice to say that there were a number of exquisite character cameos, one of the most telling being that of Alan Kelly as lawyer Sandre Obaladze.

Perhaps the secret of this production’s success lay in the superb teamwork of the producer, musical director, actors, singers and stage crew.

Other members of the cast were: Jack Tosh, Sheila McKerracher, David Vincent, Sheila Dickson, David Russell, Carolyn Tudhope, Lyn Taylor, Sally Bolton, Alan Kelly, Sheila Kendall, Colette McGuire, Gary Ayres, Frank Boles, Susan Beesley, Fred Wildridge, Des Nouvel, Ken Walker, John Goldie, Cameron Smith, Tom Hamilton, Elaine Nicol, Yvonne Campkin, Steven Pollock.

The musical score was written by musical director John Wilson and the play was directed by David J. F. Crouch. The stage manager was Liz Aitken.

Ayrshire Post.  1976

Chalk Circle
The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Berthold Brecht presented in the College Theatre in 1976. Images from David J F Crouch (personal collection)


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Creative Ayrshire acknowledges the assistance of Carolyn O'Hara, Ken O'Hara, Douglas Raith, David J F Crouch, Allison Tudhope, Ken Walker and Mike Bailey for the provision of material for this section of the website. 

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