Jonathan Trenholme and Pam Grimsditch of The Masham Players delighted a packed room with anecdotes about the ups and downs of amateur dramatics. Pam opened proceedings by reciting Joyce Grenfell’s Nursery School monologue and A Wayne in a Manger by Gervais Phinn.
The Masham Players celebrate their 70th anniversary this year and Jonathan, who joined in 1972, is very proud of the fact that his family has been involved since the mid-1950s. The main part of the talk, illustrated with slides, props and costumes, followed the process of a production from choosing the play to performance. It was accompanied by references to the Players’ successes in drama festivals as well as rueful asides about things that had gone wrong on the night.
Jonathan concluded by saying that the Players’ next programme would be two one act plays put on jointly with their sister group from North Stainley, where performances would be on 1st and 2nd July. Performances in Masham would follow on 7th and 8th July.
After a break for refreshments, Jan was recruited to help Jonathan and Pam perform a short piece about an old couple. Jan then handed over a token of RWG’s appreciation for the talk before opening the meeting to questions.
Exceptionally, this meeting was held in the St Wilfrid’s Community Centre. With adjudicator Ann Powell unable to join us, Jan passed on her general comments and invited entrants in no particular order to read out their own mini-sagas. The results were as follows:
• 3rd – Maggie with ‘Pique’ – how a rejected marriage proposal might have sealed the fate of Dresden during WW2
• 2nd – Cathy with ‘The Death of Earth’ – an evacuee from our dying planet thinks of those left behind
• 1st – Phil with ‘Oops!’ – a very literary response to a loving email message sent to the wrong Jason
Jan presented Phil with the trophy.
The other entries were:
• Peter H – ‘Kick Back’ – a couple split up
• Peter P – ‘The Witch’ – a community finds a novel way to solve the problem of a bored witch causing havoc
• Sheila – ‘Death, Where is Thy Sting’ – don’t use a frying pan to kill a wasp if it is on your partner’s head
• Kate (read by Cathy) – ‘Adrift’ – a hospital visit
• Joe – ‘A Family’s Secret’ – memories of visits to the writer’s family in Lincolnshire
• Janet – ‘The Stuff of Fairy Tales’ – the true feelings of a couple at an engagement announcement press call
• Claire – ‘The Catastrophic Collapse of Colchester in 1648’ – factual – the origins of the ‘Humpty Dumpty’ story in the fall of Royalist Colchester to the
Roundheads in 1648
• Carol – ‘Innocence and Experience’ – a reflection on the lure of the apple
• Julie – ‘Journey’s End, New Beginning’ – a woman finally admits that she is in labour at the end of pregnancy
• Caroline – ‘Today’ – ‘Will he come? Yes, the wheelie bin will get emptied this week.’
• Anna – ‘One Lie or Two, Darling?’ – a tale of double duplicity
• Susan – ‘How Being Full of Your Own Self-importance Can Make You Overlook the Obvious and be Unaware of What’s Under Your Nose’ – a neighbour saga
This evening marked the 800th meeting of Ripon Writers’Group.
By a happy coincidence, we had three founder members present to cut the celebration cake. Daphne and Joe are regular attenders and it was good to see Linda returning after many years away from the Group.
Everyone was in a very cheerful mood to hear a wide variety of five minute plays read out by their authors with assistance from other members.
At the first meeting of the New Year, Jan welcomed Andy Croft who was present to give his adjudication of the Group’s 2015 Poetry Competition. After a brief summary of his own career as a published author and poet, Andy gave his reaction to each of the competition entries before announcing the winners. The trophy went to Elizabeth Spearman (who was unable to be at the meeting) for a poem entitled ‘Messenger’. Susan Perkins took second place with ‘An Avid Reader’s Advisory Villanelle’ with third place going to David McAndrew for ‘Lost’. After the refreshment break the entries were read, with time at the end of the meeting for Andy Croft to read two of his own published pieces.
A very pleasant evening at The Old Deanery drew to a close with the presentation by Joe Peters of the President’s Cup, won by Susan Perkins for the second year running.
Members and guests had enjoyed a two or three course meal interspersed with a rather less than ‘easy peasy’ quiz provided by Claire Cox and some seasonal readings. Chair Jan Maltby and Treasurer Cathy Grimmer made sure that no one went away empty handed.
The intimate lighting at the venue proved challenging once again for Admin’s modest camera equipment, but at least the gallery below will let you see most of those present. Apologies to anyone not featured. Unfortunately some images were too dark or indistinct to be worth including.
Our adjudication saw a very welcome return visit from journalist Louise Cole, who spoke briefly about her own writing and media agency before giving a detailed critique of each entry.
The articles, all of which Louise had found interesting, spanned a wide range of subject matter and style. She stressed the importance of having a strong idea of what to write and for whom. In particular, the writer should come to the point in the first paragraph and include a powerful hook to engage the reader.
Travel pieces should not only reflect a writer’s own experiences but give insight into what else might be available for future visitors. Nostalgia was fine, but how had the area changed since? Being aware of psychic distance would obviate unfortunate juxtapositions. A heart rending description of a wartime atrocity, for example, should never be followed by ‘and then we bought hats’!
Writers of opinion pieces should include the sources for their facts and figures and avoid undermining themselves by posing questions that they were unable to answer. The main part of the article should focus on essentials, with facts that would be ‘nice to know’ confined to a side panel.
Phil Cook’s travel piece, Trieste:the least known Italian city was the winner of the Jack Moss trophy. In second place was Old Blue Eyes, a review of Frank Sinatra’s latest biography, by Peter Hicks. Sheila Whitfield’s Sweet Satisfaction, which compared today’s sugar consumption with that imposed by rationing during and following WW2, came third.
Unfortunately, once the winning entries had been read out, there was very little time for Louise to speak about her latest venture. She and two friends are now collaborating on romantic stories under the author name of Marisa Hayworth. We shall look forward to hearing more about that on her next visit!
Members are always keen to hone their skills. Here’s Maggie flashing her teeth on the front row of a writing workshop held in York courtesy of The People’s Friend. As TPF publishes more short stories than any other UK magazine, every word from the lips of Fiction Editor Shirley Blair is to be treasured. Maggie looks forward to sharing what she learnt with the rest of RWG at the earliest opportunity.
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