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Girton Parish News - June 2001

The Front Page.

Girton Players win top awards at Cambridge Drama Festival

Girton Players have recently won the top three awards at the Cambridge Drama Festival with their performance of Heart's Desire by Caryl Churchill. They made history by winning the awards for Best Actress (Maxine Fay), Best Actor (Michael Husband) and Best Play (Director Michele Le Bailly), the first time in 33 years that one group has won all three top awards.

Girton Players was founded in 1995 following a front page article in the August edition of the GPN. The founding members had been involved in the Girton Mystery Cycle which had taken place over three summers and were all keen to continue with drama in Girton. Since then the group has put on plays every year in the village and have also taken part in several drama festivals, winning an award for their staging of their play last year.

I recently spoke to Maxine and Michele about their success. 

What attracted you to the play (Heart's Desire)?
Maxine: I saw the play at the Arts Theatre and enjoyed the 'theatricality' of it.  It isn' t a naturalistic play but gives actors a chance to 'show off' their craft.  When we were looking for a play to present at the Cambridge Drama Festival, it seemed to be a good choice as festival plays need to give actors and directors a chance to display their skills in plays that perhaps would not 'put bums on seats' in a group's normal venue.   I have to say though, that when we read it through the first time I thought we would never be able to do it, so part of its attraction was the challenge!

What particular challenges did it involve?
Maxine :The obvious challenge was that the play consists of about 3 sides of dialogue which is repeated 12 times, usually with something surprising happening and not always going back to the same place.  We had to work out how to remember what the next repeat was and where to go back to.  I won't say how we did it - that would be giving away a theatrical secret!

Another challenge was that each repeat had to be a repeat of moves as well as lines and each time had to be precisely the same.  It took a lot of rehearsal  to get to the stage where when I said a line I knew exactly where I should be standing and what I should be doing.

Michele added:  For the director there are several challenges: choreographing the movement of the actors precisely to the lines and making sure that each reset is possible in terms of replacing props,  making sure that the actors played it ‘straight’ and not in an arch or knowing manner and working out the ‘surprises’ in the script and how they could be done to give the greatest impact.

When did you first realize how well the play was doing?
Maxine: We spent a lot of time working out the characters and what we thought was going on in this strange dysfunctional family, trapped in an endlessly repeating dialogue.  What surprised me when we first put it on in Girton was how funny people found it.  A lot of the laughter was perhaps nervous laughter but it meant that people had connected to the play.  People said things like 'I didn't understand it but I really enjoyed it' , which meant I think that the play made people think.

Michele: I worried whether we would be able to rise to the challenge for a long time but in the final rehearsals everything came together very well and I began to feel confident. 

For the festival, my biggest worry was that the audience and adjudicator wouldn’t ‘get’ the play. We all knew this was a high-risk play to do. In Cambridge it worked for the audience and adjudicator. I knew we had done really well after the adjudication but the best moment was when he announced on the Saturday night that Maxine had won Best Actress because then I knew we had won overall.  In Luton, the audience were tremendously responsive, but unfortunately, the adjudicator clearly did not understand where the play was coming from.

Maxine: I think that Girton Players have come a long way and learnt a lot since the Girton Mystery Plays.   I am really proud of winning a cup for Best Actress this year - it's a long way from Caiphas,  the Jewish priest!
The next challenge is to keep up the standard.  I hope people in Girton will carry on coming to see our plays and events as this is the way that we will continue to learn and improve.

Michele: As performers, we have learnt a lot from doing this play and in general, I feel that we have improved a lot in the last year.  I never imagined when Maxine and I started the group that in only 6 years, we would be capable of winning a festival. We know now that we can and would like to mount a serious challenge on the national title when we find another play as good as this to do. I feel we are on a roll now and I’m looking forward to our summer production and to doing Stepping Out very much.

As a small group, we have often struggled to get audiences in sufficient numbers to cover the considerable cost of putting on a show. We receive no grants and donations for programmes are always given to local charities - this year to a local support centre for MS sufferers. To GPN readers I would like to say - You have an acting group in your midst capable of doing good work. If you are interested in acting, please join us. If you like the theatre, do come and see Girton Players productions as you will have an enjoyable evening and will be helping keep theatre live in Girton by your support. 

We were very lucky to have four young actresses from Girton as part of our team - Alice Ripley, Ellie Biggs, Elena Wilson and Elesha Hands, who replaced Alice at the Luton performance.

Girton Players' next performances are Summer Lovin' (June 16th - see advert this issue) and Stepping Out by Richard Harris (22nd - 24th November). Make a note of the dates now and don't miss the chance to see an award winning local group in action!

Finally, on behalf of all our readers we would like to congratulate all the cast and crew for their tremendous success at the Cambridge Drama Festival.

Helen Wilson

Message from St Andrew's

Retirement of the Chairman of the Friends of St Andrew's.

Many people in the parish will have followed with interest  the  programme of  maintenance and development  in St Andrew's over the past decade or so.

The interior of the church has been  completely redecorated, the sanctuary and side aisles reordered, and new storage cupboards built along the wall of the south-west aisle. 

The pipe-organ was completely rebuilt  two years ago.

The most ambitious and obvious addition, though,  has been the extension (the North Room) completed in 1997.  All this has required considerable fund-raising efforts to get the work completed. 

The main source of inspiration for this came through John Robson, who  took on the establishment the Friends of St Andrews as a 'retirement' project. His first task was to draw together  very small, dedicated  and effective committee. 

From the outset, the Friends have appealed to a wider constituency than  the local congregation. Many people have contact with the parish church through  baptisms, weddings and funerals. Others drop-in to church to rest in its quiet and prayerful atmosphere, which provides a welcome respite from  the busyness of daily life.  Still others appreciate that the parish church is simply  'there', an attractive building on the bend of Cambridge Rd, the oldest building in the village, and  the bearer of  a huge part of the parish¹s history over the last thousand years. 

John has not only played a part in the fundraising that has brought the church into the best condition that it has enjoyed  since the Reformation;  the  efforts of the Friends Committee has immeasurably enriched the life of the community, particularly through a  series of summer concerts and  open garden  days each year. 

John also took on the role of Fabric Officer for the church until two years ago, so that his in-depth knowledge of the building and his experience in  the Friends complemented each other extremely well.

John has now stood down as Chairman of the Friends of St Andrews (and we are very grateful to Sheila Hunt as the new Chair).  Our grateful thanks for his quiet initiative and gentle hand on the rudder that has so successfully steered the most significant  development of the church building in  500 years.

We wish John well in his *second* retirement!

This is the last of my letters to the Parish, as I cease to be Rector of Girton from May 31st.  The churchwardens have the search-process for a new incumbent well in hand, and I hope the process will lead swiftly to a new appointment.

Finally, my thanks to the Editorial Team of the Parish News, without whom it  would not be possible to read  this letter! The Team  has produced such an excellent magazine,  with constant improvements, innovation and expansion year on year. Do continue to give them every support .

With every blessing,

Rob Mackintosh.

Message from the Baptist Church


In a letter in The Times newspaper in January, a writer complained that his wife was already fed up with the election campaign, even though the election hadn’t yet been called!  By now that poor person, and I suspect many other people, must be beside themselves longing for next Thursday to come and an end to all the campaigning.  I too belong to that group, for over the course of the last few weeks, I have received much literature from various political parties and pressure groups.  Some of it has come to me personally and other pieces have been sent to me as the minister of a church.  I am not sure what to do with that sort of electioneering, for the church contains people of all political persuasions and it would be wrong of me to highlight one party over another.

I might be tired of the campaign, but I do want to say, thank God for the vote.  For contrary to what you might think though, religion and politics do mix.  The Bible tells us that we should respect those in authority over us, for ultimately all powers are established by God and those in authority are merely God’s servants.  Likewise in choosing rulers we should look to those who are obeying God’s laws.  Those laws that are enshrined in the ten commandments given by God to the children of Israel once He had released them from captivity in Egypt and settled them in the promised land.  God gave the Israelites clear instructions about how they should conduct themselves as a nation and some of those rules concerned how they should help those who were marginalised by society.  People like widows, the fatherless and aliens in the land.  As Jesus told his followers we will always have the poor in society, God is concerned with how we look after them and therefore I hope that such issues will be important in the election.

As I have already said it would be wrong for me to say which way you should vote.  Indeed I believe it is illegal for me to say it from the pulpit, so I am certainly not going to write anything here!  One thing I do want to encourage you to do though, is to exercise your right to vote on Polling Day.  We live in a democracy, but true democracy only works when everybody is involved.  We should all vote as a sign of thanks to people who have fought for the right of it throughout history, the suffragettes and others who have campaigned for the principle of one person one vote.  We should all vote as a message of people power to one party states or countries where non-democratic dictators rule.  We should all vote so that our elected candidate knows the full extent of his or her support.  We should all vote as a symbol of thanks to God for the country in which we live, for although we might be frustrated at times with the structures and processes of government, we must be thankful that we live in a free, democratic society.

Phillip Staves

Message from the Girton Glebe School

We are delighted that the new pelican crossing was opened today-May 16th.

The Home/ School Group of parents, staff and governors has worked hard under the Safer Routes to School Initiative to identify the potentially dangerous places on children's routes to school then to work with you, the local community, to make things better for them. The Pelican Crossing is a major part of this and will make such a difference to our children.Thank you also to the Parish Council and the Governing Body for all their support. There will be an official celebration and thank you when the whole project is complete in June.

At this time of year there is always a mixture of sadness and happiness in a school and we will be really sorry to say goodbye to Margaret Bird when she leaves at the end of term to further her career in new directions. However, we are pleased that the successful candidate came from within our school community. Mr Philip Atkin will take up his appointment as Deputy Head in September.

Last week we said goodbye to Sue and John Kennedy. They too will be missed by children, staff, parents and governors and we wish them a long and happy retirement. Mr Jaques Wheatley has joined our team as caretaker and we hope he enjoys working with us all. I hope he didn't hear the Year 6 children's poem for Sue and John which blamed all the mess on the teachers!

I hope to see you all at the Feast Week Concert on 4th July at 6pm.

Susan Baker, Headteacher

Last updated: 3rd June 2001