The thoughts of Chairman John

After 3 years in the Chair our illustrious Chairman John Johnston- Cook has made way – we gave him a warm hand on his exit at the AGM and asked him for his thoughts about being in charge for the last 3 years – here’s what he said


When the chair of Water Lane Theatre Co became vacant I had an inexorable feeling that it was the right time to step up to the mark having managed to keep a low profile for the past 33 years! Having seen the group develop over that period I had come to realise what a special company of friends we are.

We are all members intent on enjoying the various rewards that being part of a dramatic production can offer whether it be onstage,backstage or offstage at social gatherings.

What is special about Water Lane is the support that each member gives to the others in helping to develop their skills and the chance to put those skills into practice in order to produce as professional performance as possible.

Continuing and encouraging this was my main aim as Chairman as well as promoting the standing of the company in the local community.

To this end I actively encouraged  members to take on new roles helped by others with more experience. We are very lucky in that we have some very talented actors and directors who can pass on their skills and as a consequence we have an increasing fund of accomplished members. We are equally able to put on large scale productions at Rhodes and small street productions at the behest of the Town Council. I feel these are just as important.  We have experienced directors of Shakespeare and also those willing to take us in new directions.

I have been incredibly impressed with the standard of our productions both large and small over the last three years.

I see the Chairman’s role as striving to expand our horizon’s and giving every member the chance to develop their skills at the same time having fun and enjoying each other’s company socially. I feel we need to encourage more people to take part in supporting roles such as costume, production management and set production as these often prove difficult to fill and are equally as important as treading the boards.

With the future of venues in the town now being uncertain one of my most important concerns has been to keep up to date with Council proposals and I feel that going forward we should use our contacts in the town to make sure that that our best interests are served.

I feel I should thank thewhole society for the support I have received during my Chairmanship. Also special thanks to my committee for the everyday running of the society without which we would not be able to function.

I am happy that we have a vibrant and forward thinking attitude and that the diversity of group will continue to enhance  both the social and the theatrical endeavours of Water Lane Theatre Company.

With many thanks




The Brent Pelham Dragon – all our own work !!!

Early this year the Town Council  asked Water Lane Theatre Company to participate in the Carnival which had the theme of community. After some research we found a story about a Knight called Piers Shonks who lived in Brent Pelham, originally called Burnt Pelham because of a marauding dragon. Piers eventually killed the dragon and saved his community. He upset the Devil because the dragon was a favourite pet . He cursed Piers and said that he would neither be buried inside or outside a church when he died. At the end of his life Piers fired an arrow and said he would be buried where it landed. It landed in the North wall of the Church and there he was buried neither inside or outside but in the wall itself and if you visit the church in Brent Pelham today you can see his tomb in the wall.

We thought this would make a good basis for a short play aimed at families and children.  Carys Sullivan kindly offered to help me with  the script for this and also borrowed our  dragon and some props from friends who had used them in mummers plays. Becky Deal found a song about Piers and Les Sullivan created a tune which we used in our introduction to the play.  We were very pleased to have a family involvement from our Water Lane members . Sally and her daughters Sophie and Evie, Jacqui and her daughter Sam and her daughter Izzy were all keen to take part along with Will and Becky, John and Pam and Amanda and David Middlemiss.  We started rehearsals for this at the end of May at the URC Church Hall and then moved outside to the Southern Country Park. Passers looked a bit stunned and a very excited beagle was keen to take part. On the day everything went smoothly . Four of us walked in the procession and our performance of “The Brent Pelham Dragon” at 3.45 pm in the Bandstand arena was very well received by a  vocal family audience . We also made contact with Hester and Lee from Furneaux Pelham who are putting on a Festival at the end of July called Theatre in the Fields. They would like us to do two performances at their Festival on July 28th. We now need a couple more volunteers from the members to replace those who are going to be away in July so please contact John (  if you are keen to take part. It is a compliment that the Town Council ask us to take part in these public events and I feel it is important to continue these performances. There will be another opportunity to perform at the Christmas Fayre in December so if you have any good ideas and would be prepared to direct please contact John.


Report from John Johnson-Cook, director