Tales from the Barn ….

Looky here – our stage manager has an apprentice !

A flat white no longer!!


After painting flats for Water Lane since the early eighties and now noticing the bristles on my paintbrush beginning to turn white and drop out I decided to put out a plea for an apprentice to learn the trade and find out where I keep all my myriad bits of wood, fittings and assorted junk that can be persuaded or forced kicking and screaming into the limelight and onto the stage.

It was important for the applicant to be a total squirrel and never discard a thing that might conceivably be useful.

One also has to learn to live with a permanent and sometimes quite noticeable veneer of emulsion not to mention a willingness to embrace various glues, spray paints and sticky back plastics!

Was this going to be an impossible task …….read on.


At the last AGM I asked to be John’s set building apprentice and it has been fantastic, if a bit chilly, to see all the magic that happens in the barn for months before that Sunday get in. Far from the experience of those early sunday mornings of show week where all hands are on deck to bring John and Granville’s magnificent sets to life, the experience in the barn is somewhat different and in many ways more spectacular. Instead to a large team with power drills, there is a barn with room for 2 at a time and lots of heavy flats covering every wall. Over the last couple of months I’ve seen vast wooden boards, held together by years of paint become a stately home with all it’s intricate details. Those small details are the bits I always took for granted. What colour walls would they have? Do we have enough matching door handles? Who can build extra bits of staging to make a raised platform? Where can we get another set of functioning french doors? So much work goes into Water Lane sets and I could gush for hours about the talent and resourcefulness of our back stage boys but I’ll just say that I feel truly privileged to be a part of it and hope to be involved for many years to come. I’ve learnt better DIY skills and used tools I’d never heard of all the while keeping hold of all ten fingers and toes! All that’s left to say is thank you to John and Granville for the numerous cups of coffee that make the cold bearable.


I would like to say a huge thank you to Kerry who has proved to be a dab hand with power drill and jig saw. She has unfailingly arrived on a Monday morning to cover acres of hardboard with magnolia or purple emulsion and always has a smile and a great sense of humour.

One of her great assets is that she always remembers where I have left my tape measure, screwdriver or pencil which saves me loads of time. The only time I felt worried was when I sent her up a ladder but with her previous experience in Dad’s Army she made it up and down safely!

I look forward to working with her on many sets and eventually watching her design her own.

Our flats are no longer white but a royal shade of purple so please come along to watch And Then There were None and see for yourselves.




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