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Soon Comes Night, The Mystery Theatre Players of Central Scotland, Guest performers include Kenneth Williams, Dylan Thomas, Vladimir Nabokov, Terry Thomas, Teresa Wright, Naunton Wayne, Herbert Lom, Glynis Johns, Rod Serling

1. Renovations

Rupert Dawes the company’s engineer has installed seven new microphones, donated by the Sanderson Trust. These have been strategically positioned around the building to enable the simultaneous recording of disparate scenes.

R.L. suggests that attention and funding now be directed toward ‘home comforts’: the kitchen and dormitories require particular attention if the aspirations enumerated in the company’s manifesto are to be realised.

Paul Pettigrew bemoans the fact that so much money has been squandered on non-essentials – in particular Ironside Gemmell’s ‘writing retreats’, a recurring expense that has been rewarded with diminishing returns.

2. Steadfast Rising

Work has commenced on the second revival of Ledingham Bayne’s St Tristan’s stories: The new recording (an adaptation of ‘Six for a Scoundrel’) features Eric Bishop as Steadfast and Robin Vickers as Simcox, the perennial school scapegoat around whom the action revolves.

Rupert Dawes has prepared an appropriate ambience, sample scenes from The Guinea Pig, Goodbye Mr Chips and If… He has also cleaned sections of dialogue from the original series in order that it can be recycled.

There is, however, some resistance to the project: Ironside’s insistence on promoting Eric Bishop to such a prominent role has caused some consternation, not least to Shade MacFarlane who played the part in the original series.

I.G. remains intransigent: Shade, he insists, is too old to play Steadfast. Instead, he has been offered the part of McGregor, the housemaster, though his unsuitability for that role is evident to everyone. He is effectively channelling Steadfast, proclaiming every line in a manner that implies the conclusion of an exclamation mark.

His vigour remains evident between takes: as the other actors relax with coffee, he shadow boxes or performs press ups, all the well keeping a baleful eye on Eric who is, understandably, inhibited by the attention.

3. Hugh Walker

Hugh Walker has returned to the Drumfeld Gazette, two years after his reviews were cited as a contributing factor in the attempted suicide of Ross Pringle (a Drumfeld Players’ actor, consistently singled out for adverse comment.)

H.W.’s new column, ‘Treading the Boards’ is clearly written with the intention of recovering some of the sympathy lost in the Pringle debacle. Replacing criticism with memoir, he reminisces about his own acting career and describes the ‘process of demoralisation’ by which actor became critic ‘in the manner of a butterfly retreating into its cocoon….’

The fact that this regression coincided with H.W.’s association with the Mystery Theatre Players bodes ill for the company’s funding application – members of the committee are already concerned that potential benefactors have been discouraged by Gareth Prior’s ‘drugging’ allegations (a fantasy given unexpected credence by Ironside’s light-hearted ‘confession’.)

4. Dress Code

E.B. has printed a circular reiterating the standards of dress and deportment expected of actors representing the Mystery Theatre Players. The reminder is primarily intended as a rebuke to Mark Gavigan who attended last week’s rehearsals in shorts and sandals.

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