A Theatrical Double Bill
Swan Song & In By the Half

by Anton Chekhov (Swan Song) & Jimmie Chin (In By the Half)

directed by Ron Stannard (Swan Song) & Hazel Burrows (In By the Half)

Performed at the

Maskers' Studio Theatre


Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st March 2009

The Southampton Evening Echo said...

One common denominator between these two short plays is the central theme of veteran actors reminiscing about their lives and careers during their twilight years. Another is that both contained dazzling performances in the intimate studio. Mature years don't mean the quality of acting has to diminish, as illustrated here under superb direction. John Souter, as old comic actor Svetiovidov, displayed the widest garnut of emotions, from haunted torment to jovial reminiscences, with total commitment and a profound poignancy. His rich vocal tones lent a dynamic, colourful quality to his performance. He was matched by the more subtle performance of Graham Buchanan as the compassionate prompt Nikita, whose focus and reactions to Souter were first-class.

Avril Woodward was magnificent as the pompous and proud Madam, with outstanding expressions, voice, body language and emotions, while Angharad Price was excellent as the naive would-be actress Sylvia.

Swan Song directed by Ron Stannard

Chekhov said this "dramatic study" took him just an hour and five minutes to write. It was premiered in 1888, about eight years before the great series of his major plays began with The Seagull.

An ageing comic actor wakes up, drunk, in his dressing room and wanders onto the darkened stage. Out of this simple situation Chekhov has fashioned a bitter-wasted talent, unfulfilled ambitions and the pathos of lost romance; and his technique of sentiment constantly undercut by comedy.

The play has been described as a "tear-jerker" - the tragedy of a comic actor who will play serious roles only in an empty theatre to an audience of one. But even in his early work Chekhov is more teasingly complex and ironic than that, and we have tried to reflect this in our production so that we laugh even as we sympathise. The three of us hope you enjoy our little offering.

The Cast
Svetlovidov, an old comic actor John Souter
Nikita, an old prompter Graham Buchanan

In By The Half directed by Hazel Burrows

I have been a member of the Maskers for many years now, and it has been my pleasure to perform in a huge variety of plays, major roles and spear carrier. What prompted me to take up the offer to direct, came from my involvement in last year's 'One Act Festival of Plays' and the fun we had.

Remembering also my early days in the Maskers and how we would put on a one day entertainment for the Southampton Show with a very short rehearsal period, to learn the part and quickly decide upon staging and costume, was such an enjoyable challenge.

For this play, that is what I decided to do. The play was quickly cast, and my five ladies came to their first rehearsal with lines learnt, saving so much time and allowing us to immediately get down to work. We've had two rehearsals a week, for one month. East character is very different in this little gem of a play, involving comedy and drama.

With enormous pleasure I have watched the play develop, and would like to send a big thank you to the cast and crew for all their support and encouragement.

Wish us luck for the Totton Drama Festival.

The Cast
Madam Avril Woodward
Doris Christine Baker
Doctor Suze Provins
Sylvia Angharad Price
Ursula Hayley Cheeseworth
For the Maskers
Production Manager Angie Stansbridge
Stage Manager Angie Stansbridge
Sound Geoff Grandy
Lighting Jamie McCarthy
Properties Moyra Allen
Bar and Prompt Jan Spiers
Publicity and Programme Anja McCloskey
Box Office Christine Baker
Front of House Pete Hill and Maskers
Printing Geoff Wharam


click on a photo to enlarge it

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Shirley's own LOCAL theatre!

Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

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