All the world’s a stage . . .

The theatre has always fascinated me. Maybe it is because of my inner extrovert.

Even as a child I enjoyed dressing up. I don’t mean dressing up as a cowboy or Indian. I mean being the character.

My parents had a suitcase we called the dressing-up case. Many of the items, tunics, trousers etc., were of an Oriental style, even though I do know my parents had never been to the Far East.

These were wonderful for creating characters, especially when I discovered a long false moustache and a flattened conical hat with a pigtail attached to it.

Years later my parents showed me an album of family photos taken before I was born. They included pictures of amateur dramatic shows, featuring my father. In one the characters were dressed as Chinese.

It didn’t matter that the clothes were not really Chinese. They looked Chinese and that is what theatre is all about.

I have mentioned earlier that I appeared in a primary school play but that was not how I really fell in love with theatre.

That began at grammar school in my second year, 1962/63, and it was down to a teacher called Dale Jones. I have a suspicion he was actually called Mr A Dale Jones but I am not certain.

He was an English teacher and that year we studied The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.

To bring it more to life he assigned people to read parts in front of the class. When we did the trial scene he got me to stand in, or actually sit in as the Doge.

He sat me on his chair at his desk and the scene began.

I had hardly finished the greeting to Antonio when Mr Dale Jones stopped us.

“No, no, no. If you are the Doge you must be the Doge. You have to be above the others, you are the Doge of Venice, the supreme judge. You need more, you need to be seen to be the authority.”

He took off his gown and placed it over my shoulders.

“Now you are the Doge.”

We continued the scene and I realised what he meant.After all it was Shakespeare who said: “Clothes maketh the man.”

From that day on I was hooked on theatre in general and Shakespeare in particular.

It took a while but that single moment changed the direction of my life in the long term.

In the short term, however, it led me in 1963 to this building.

The Rhyl Little Theatre in Vale Road, Rhyl, opened in 1963 as a home to Rhyl Childrens’ Theatre Club.

The theatre was brand new, opening for the first time in 1963. The Childrens’ Theatre Club had previously had a home upstairs in an old warehouse in Abbey Street.

The club began during the war when a repertory company from Manchester found itself based for a longer than usual season in the seaside town.

Two members of the company wanted to give something of their love of the theatre to the town which had become their home for longer than expected.

They were Joe Holroyd and Angela Day and they began Saturday morning sessions to teach theatrecraft to the children of Rhyl.

Joe Holroyd and Angela Thomas (nee Day) in a Group 200 production at the Rhyl Little Theatre.

The pair stayed in Rhyl after the war and continued working with the children and put on productions at the Pavilion and Queens Theatre.

The Abbey Street premises were turned into a mini theatre with a small stage and seating for 50.

It was at the Little Theatre in Vale Road that I joined the theatre club, late May or early June, and soon afterwards I appeared in my first production – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

My debut role was – – – the Fish Footman, dressed in a silver lamé jacket; white breeches and stockings; black shoes with silver buckles; a lace collar and cravat; a powdered wig and, crowning glory, a rubber fish mask. Not even my mother would have known me in that get-up. The mask was unpleasant as it collected condensed breath on the inside, but I was the fish.

I had not expected a starring role. I don’t think any of the children did. We were just happy to be chosen.

I remained a member of the Little Theatre and the Group 200 (adults) until I left Rhyl nine years later.

I made many friends and, as Shakespeare told us, played many parts – not only in the theatre but in life.

Next time: the Scottish play and many more.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

3 thoughts on “All the world’s a stage . . .

  1. For years I tended to associate fish with rubber, sweat and talcum powder.
    As I said, though, the role was appropriate considering my star sign.
    Hope you are surviving the lockdown.


    1. Thank you for posting the photo of Joe Holroyd & Angela Day. Brought back many Abbey Street memories; especially of ‘Little Goody Two Shoes’ at Rhyl Pavilion!


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