Hi De Hi Campers !!

Words of wisdom from our  brand new Director Doug Sheppard on our next production of Hi De Hi IMG_0025‘Hi de Hi!!’

Doug can’t hear you ….

‘Hi de Hi !!!’

Just some words regarding the up and coming production of Hi De Hi in April. It was originally a bit of a battle to decide between four plays, Noises Off, The Vicar of Dibley, Confusions and Hi De Hi. I was originally drawn towards Noises Off  but the complexity of the set made it both technically difficult and potentially very expensive to produce the set.  The Vicar of Dibley although in the mix was not a favourite of mine. I never really liked the television series and in fact rarely watched it. In addition I was aware that it was being played fairly regularly by other companies and I didn’t want to add to that tally. Alan Ayckbourn is a favourite of mine and having played in the Confusions play lets it was of interest, however, it was not necessarily as potentially commercially attractive as much as Hi De Hi.

Two factors finally steered me towards Hi De Hi. The first was my daughter who had been a part of the production of the play in her theatre in Chester and secondly when we had our reading of the play. It came off of the page you might say.

I am now really happy as I now have a wonderful cast who I know will make the play come alive and also a fantastic team around me in John, Carys, Granville, Will  and Richard who always do wonders with the unseen preparation for a play and the behind the scenes work needed to make the acting space a home for the actors to express themselves.

Come and see it everyone. 19th to 21st April 2018.

Hi De Hi and Ho De Ho.

Doug Sheppard




NODA Nominations !!

We are  delighted to announce that Water Lane has been nominated in two categories in this year’s Noda awards.

  Best Drama:   Love’s Labour’s Lost

  Best Technical:   Wyrd Sisters

Needless to say we are delighted !

Congrats to all involved and good luck for the ceremony on 13th May 




“Wyrd Sisters”

Director – Juliet Richards

Reviewed at Charis Centre, Bishops Stortford on Friday 10th November 2017

Over the short period during which I have had the pleasure of reviewing productions by this Society, I have found them to be just as much at home with stage adaptations of TV comedies as they are with Shakespeare, Jane Austen and now taking on the challenge of Stephen Briggs’ stage adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s book in the Discworld series.

The venue was configured to form an intimate theatre with good lighting and excellent sound effects courtesy of Will Jamieson and his assistants. Conventional scenery would probably not be an option here.  Instead, the three screens (either side of the stage and to the back) showing a succession of beautiful illustrations by Granville Rush, not only complimented the action but added a great sense of fun to the proceedings. Set changes were carried out swiftly and without interruption to the pace of the show.

The witches were well cast with Penelope Reeves giving a good portrayal of the most dominate of the three characters, Granny Weatherwax. She was well supported by Jacqui Kinnison as the upfront and slightly vulgar Nanny Ogg. Great facial expressions!   Emma Pink was delightful as the excitable junior witch Magrat Garlick, keen to learn the ropes and relishing in her own ideas of witchcraft much to the annoyance of her elders.

Michael Beavan and Becky Deal made a good comic pairing as the weak Duke who finally succumbs to insanity, and the overbearing Duchess.

There were other good performances from Greg Hill as Tomjon and Adam Andrews as Fool, whose charming scenes with Magrat displayed some good sensitive acting.  I wish him well at drama school.

Granville Rush looked suitably ghostly as the late King, mingling with the various characters and watching to see who would finally succeed him.

There was a good supporting cast, doubling up where necessary and morphing seamlessly from one character to another.  Well done to Amanda Green who really puts her all into her characterisations.  I liked her portrayal of Hwel.

The gazebos at the side of the auditorium with their backs to the audience were presumably acting as dressing rooms.  But festooned with bunting as they were they added another dimension to the set and didn’t look at all out of place. Erected out of necessity, they could easily have passed for a street scene. Well thought out.

Congratulations on tackling this complex play. Under the direction of Juliet Richards this was another production the Society can be proud of.Decia Ranger


District 7

Water Lane Theatre Company presents WYRD SISTERS

This November Water Lane Theatre Company decides to enter the Discworld,

a fantasy land supported by four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle..intrigued?

Our director Juliet Richards who first appeared with Water Lane in its award winning production of ‘Allo,’Allo in 2015 is a massive fan of Terry Pratchett, the creator of the Discworld series.

Juliet has directed a one act play before with Water Lane and this is her first foray into directing a full length production. She remembers listening to the radio adaption of Wyrd Sisters which led to a life long love of the Discworld and when she saw her Dad act in a production of the play she knew she wanted to direct it one day. Drama is her passion and this September she started a PGCE course to fulfil her ambition to become a drama teacher.

In his book Wyrd Sisters Terry Pratchett takes Shakespeare’s Macbeth and turns up the plot “until the knob comes off”. It is all there – a wicked Duke and Duchess, the ghost of a murdered King, a Fool, dim soldiers, strolling players and a new born baby.

After murder and skulduggery in the royal palace the land, itself now suffering under the corrupt Duke, cries out for a new leader and the Wyrd Sisters must listen.

In this dramatic adaptation by Stephen Briggs it’s time for Granny Weatherwax and her two companions, Magrat Garlick and Nanny Ogg to get involved in matters both magical and regal and give the land the King it deserves. This is a must for Pratchett fans.

Wyrd Sisters will be performed at the Charis Centre in Water Lane Bishops Stortford on Thursday 9th, Friday 10th , Saturday 11th November at 7.30pm, doors open at 7.00pm.

We are raising money for The Alzheimer’s Society during the production.

All tickets are £9.00 and are available at the Tourist information office in Bishops Stortford or on line through our website www.waterlanetheatrecompany.co.uk where a booking fee will apply.


A Director’s Tale

What to do when you’ve got to produce that ‘difficult second album’?

I’m not sure what happened! I was laying out the rope that marked out the playing area for A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year and I must have had a rush of blood to the head from bending down. Next thing you know I’m haranguing our dear old Chairman about the popularity of the show and how we couldn’t let that kind of popular following slip away. And then for some reason I said that I’d be ‘more than happy’ to direct again the following year. For 24 hours it was a brilliant idea – MND went as well as we could ever have expected; the crowds loved it , the cast loved it , the committee loved it. It was the best thing I’d ever directed. And then as Costard said ….Oh Balls!!

How on earth was I going to better or even equal it! In reality, no one (including me) expected me to, but that’s your challenge as a Director, you always want to do better; if you’re not learning and improving, what’s the point?

I genuinely thought for a second I should throw in the towel rather than have to compete with myself, but ( I admit ) pride wouldn’t let me. I’d given myself a point to prove – now I had to work out a way to do it.

So back I went to the drawing board, knowing that compared with MND I was already 6 months behind the curve. I’m not sure anyone realises how long the creative process works – maybe I overdo it, but I change my mind constantly about the way I want to present the play I’m directing. With a structured, modern play you don’t have to worry too much, the script tells you what to do , but when it’s Shakespeare you have to think about the interpretation because that gives you the whole structure and feeds into every little detail of the play the audience will ultimately see. If you’ve not done this before the auditions, the cast won’t know what they are doing and you are going to end up with a mess.

I drew up a shortlist, the usual suspects, things the audience will know – Much Ado, Twelfth Night , As you like it , I even considered non-comedies, A Winters Tale, The Merchant of Venice. Nothing was floating my boat. In the end, while I was on holiday, I decided on Much Ado because it’s probably (next to MND) the best crowd pleaser and everyone I spoke to seemed to think it was a great idea. However, there was a problem, as although I’d seen it loads of times, I actually didn’t know it that well.

Then I got a text ……

Out of the blue one Michael Beaven sent me a random text saying he’d just read Love’s Labour’s Lost and it was very funny. My first thought was to wonder what on earth the dear boy does for recreation! But then a light went on.

I knew the play – very well, I’d studied it and I’d been in it. And I suddenly realised that I’d been forgetting the most important thing, that above all else the Director has to know the play and REALLY know it. If you don’t know the play, you have no chance of developing a (for want of a better phrase) vision of what you want the play to be.

I also knew that I’d know the play better than any of the cast – because in some cases people hadn’t even heard of it. This was a massive advantage because anyone who does know it knows a few things about it –

  • it’s long – very long!
  • It’s wordy – probably Bill’s wordiest!
  • It’s an early one – ergo he did better ones later on.
  • A good proportion of it is totally inaccessible and irrelevant,

Ideal then!

If the the committee had had an inkling then, I’m pretty certain someone would have told me I needed my head testing. But they didn’t and I was pretty certain that with some cuts, some added business and (crucial this) the right casting, we could make something special of it.

The thing that I heard most was that it was a ‘brave’ choice – I think they meant ‘brave’ in the ‘stupid’ sense. But I was pleased – after MND I felt like it would have been too easy just to roll another crowd pleaser out – this was a challenge!

I’d convinced myself – now I just had to convince a cast. To do that I needed an interpretation that was reminiscent of what we had done with MND but didn’t feel like we were repeating ourselves. Another key factor in the choice of LLL was the setting – at the end of MND the monastery had looked stunning lit up and I really wanted it as a back drop – MND’s staging had been radical so I didn’t feel the need to better it. LLL was perfect as it’s the only Shakespeare play where all the action takes in a single location – against the Manor House – the stars were aligning!

In MND the premise had been EastEnders up for a picnic, now I needed something that would work with this play. There was a lot of agonising; poor old JB got all the possible interpretations thrown at him when I visited him in India – serves him right for taking me on such a long road trip. When I came back I was convinced it was going to be set at a Rugby Club with a visiting women’s hockey team. But something wasn’t right. It just wasn’t falling into place. Then, out of the blue, I heard a news item about an old golf club finally overturning years of tradition by allowing women into the clubhouse – it was appallingly sexist to the point of misogyny- and bang – it all fell into place – the golfers, the ladies visiting the spa, the green keeper, the club steward, the bar maid – it just worked. I had my theme; I had my space, now all I needed was a cast.

I felt very confident at the auditions, contrary to popular belief I don’t pre-cast – ever. You just never know what’s going to surprise you (who remembers Doug auditioning for Puck – game changer!!)


With a couple of exceptions, no one ended up in the roles I thought they would. Casting is all about balance; in this play getting the pairings of the royals was also important. It’s also about making sure that you are putting people into the larger roles who can handle it, because those are the people you can rely on and can carry the play.

You always have to be mindful that we are an amateur group and when you are directing something as big as a Shakespeare play you have to have a balance of people who don’t need quite as much direction, so that you can also work with the less experienced people and bring them up to a level beyond what they think they are capable of.

At the auditions a few people surprised me as much for destroying my preconceptions of what they could do, plus there were some new people there too. Over the two auditions I got really lucky – some things slotted beautifully into place, some were less obvious. Again, I was looking for my ‘Doug as Puck’ moment and it was when Andy read Ferdinand with his ‘oop north’ voice things began to make sense – I suspect he was after a different part, but he’d sown the seed!

I always cast the same way – select the obvious ones and build round it – Paul, Granville, Sean, Andy, Nancy and Lisa got set in stone early on and from that core I was able to build what I thought was a very strong cast.

A few things caused us issues along the way – losing Rachel was a big blow, and I thought for a while I might have to step in myself, but after thinking it over it suddenly became obvious that I could move Nicky into Costard’s role with Greg becoming Dull. What a decision that turned out to be with Nicky turning in a performance right up there with the best we’ve seen on a Water Lane stage!


Originally I rehearsed it in groups, as I did with MND, but after 3 weeks it became apparent that we needed flow so I changed the schedule and ran it chronologically- it just needed it – it was that kind of play. Ultimately, I think the final performance benefitted too as we didn’t get a full cast at rehearsal until 2 days before the show.

I pause here to mention sound and light – one of the things I loved about MND was the freedom to choose music I wanted to set the scene – music is important and evocative – and it can have a profound effect on how an audience sees a play – I had so much fun choosing the music for this play, but I would bore you to tears if I talked you through the reasons I chose the music I did for each scene. It was a six month long process – but I hoped it worked. The only thing I will say is that I agonised about the finale music – after the Imagine Dragons last year, I really didn’t want to get it wrong – but the feel and the sentiment of ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ was so apt, once I’d thought of it, it couldn’t be beaten, especially since I worked the dance out in my living room looking like a total idiot!

Not much surprises me about amateur theatre, but I was stunned on the Tuesday at how everyone pulled it out of the bag – it was the first proper run through. It was like a performance- all the hard work that everyone had done came into play and even I was taken aback at how good it was.

I could write volumes here – but I’ll resist – the one thing I’d like to end on is ‘trust’ and in this context I talk about Granville, Will, Michael and JJC – you have to trust they know what they are doing – and they do – they really do. Having people like that running everything else allows you to direct the way you want to – and it’s the heart and soul of our little group. It’s also the thing that makes someone fly back from India because they don’t want to miss it.


Richard Pink – Director – Love’s Labour’s Lost – Water Lane Theatre Company – July 2017


Auditions for Wyrd Sisters are this week!

Auditions for WYRD SISTERS will take place on TUESDAY 25th and THURSDAY 27th JULY

8.00 pm in the top room at URC Church Hall, Water Lane

This play has some amazing characters which will be great fun to play. The list below will give you a guide. Please come along and discover Terry Pratchett’s strange and wonderful world .

The Characters

Granny Weatherwax  ~ Oldest and wisest witch. Well respected.

Nanny Ogg ~ Mother and grandmother to a large family. Likes a good knees up.

Magrat Garlick ~ Youngest witch. Thinks ritual is very important.

Fool ~ Doesn’t like being a fool. Very smart.

Duke Felmet ~ The Macbeth of the play. Goes increasingly mad.

Lady Felmet ~ ‘Lady Macbeth’. Power hungry and pure evil.

King Verance ~ Late King of Lancre. Stuck haunting the castle.

Tomjon ~ Long lost prince of Lancre but doesn’t know it. Just wants to be an actor.

Vitoller ~ Theatrical impresario. Tomjon’s adopted father.

Mrs Vitoller ~ Married to Vitoller. Keen to adopt Tomjon as has lost a child.

Hwel ~ Playwright for Vitoller’s players.

Demon ~ Omniscient being from the demon dimensions. (Probably going to be a puppet.)

Sergeant ~ Head of the palace guards.

Robbers ~ Members of the Thieves Guild of Ankh Morpork.

Players, Guards, Soldiers, Bowmen ~ Various

Another Loves Labours Lost review!


“Love’s Labour’s Lost”

Director – Richard Pink

Reviewed at The Monastery Gardens, Bishops Stortford on Saturday 8th July 2017

This is the second of Water Lane Theatre Company’s picnic productions in The Monastery Gardens that I have had the pleasure of attending. They make for a lovely evening’s entertainment and at the same time raise money for a worthy cause. In this instance a local Hospice.

I admit to not being a fan of period drama in modern dress, so I did wonder how this particular play would lend itself to being set in the twenty first century. Any pre-conceptions I may have had were soon dispelled as I allowed myself to be transported to the Navarre Golf and Country Club, where the action unfolds.

There were strong performances from Andy Roberts as Ferdinand who decides to forego all earthly pleasures during a period of study and from the three lords – Berowne (Sean Burke), Longaville (Doug Sheppard) and Dumaine (Adam Andrews) who also take the oath, which is of course broken with the arrival of the Princess of France and her attendant ladies.

Nancy Jones as the Princess was well cast and gave a very good performance, as did the ladies of the court. Rosaline (Lisa Turpcu), Maria (Rachel Jackson) and Katherine (Emma Pink).

Well done to Nicola Maguire for her portrayal of the comic Costard and to Corrina Graham-Hodson who gave a good performance as the wench Jacquenetta.

Paul Winspear did a great job as Don Armado. His Spanish and his skill with a golf club were impressive! A nice performance also from Kerry Wheeler as Moth.

The company has some excellent actors, able to turn their hand from comedies by the likes of David Croft and Jimmy Perry to those of Shakespeare, with what appears to be comparative ease. Amanda Green gave a great characterisation of Sir Nathaniel and Granville Rush a polished performance as Holofernes.

To my mind the whole cast deserves praise for the brilliant interpretation of this Shakespeare comedy, so my apologies to those I have not named.   A special mention though for the children who were obviously enjoying being part of this production. Some new cast members in the making maybe!

Sometimes the unavoidable happens and someone has to drop out, as happened in this Saturday evening performance. Director Richard Pink came to the rescue with score in hand and had we not been made aware, we surely would never have known that the role of Boyet was not his.

This was a very enjoyable production. Congratulations to everyone involved and thank you for inviting me.

Decia Ranger


District 7