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Alison Parkes

Playwright

Alison has written a dozen full-length plays, radio plays and television screenplays. She writes dramas and dramatic comedies about ordinary people challenged by life events, raising questions about human behaviour, identity and social mores.

 

She was awarded an MA in Scriptwriting (Theatre and Digital Media) from Essex University (2021), with Distinction. A long-time member of the Colchester Mercury Theatre playwright's group, several of her plays have been short- or long-listed for awards: Verity Bargate Award (Soho Theatre, I Danced in the Morning), Bruntwood Prize (Manchester Royal Exchange, Tigris), Mercury Theatre Playwrights Festival (Tigris), Essex Playwrights Festival (Palace Theatre, Southend, Saving Face), Headgate Theatre Colchester short play competition (As Far As Turn Back).

 

Her community play Make New Friends, about the experience of Syrian refugees and local people who befriended them is due to be performed at Colchester Arts Centre in 2022. Saving Face was given a rehearsed reading at the Lavenham Guildhall in 2019; Alison is grateful to the Lavenham Players for mounting a full production locally - a very special milestone event.

 

Alison was born in London then moved to New Jersey USA, where the family lived for 12 years. Returning to the UK, Alison trained as a teacher and went on to teach ESL in Sri Lanka and children with special needs in the UK.

 

She is married to Robert and has three grown-up children; she was a breastfeeding counsellor with La Leche League for thirty years. Alison also worked with young children and over-50s at the Mercury Theatre for many years on their community programme as a dance and drama practitioner. She sings with the Colchester-based jazz band Blue Town. An important part of her life is being a Quaker.  Having lived in Colchester for over twenty years, she and Robert moved to beautiful Lavenham in 2017.

 

Recent productions

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A COMEDY BY TOM STOPPARD

Peter Drew - Director

Peter Drew - Director

I’ve been a huge fan of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound in particular, and of his work in general, ever since arriving in Colchester from Brentwood in 1998 when I was plucked from obscurity and the lounge bar of the Fox and Fiddler and catapulted unexpectedly into the role of Simon Gascoyne in Colchester Theatre Group’s production of this hilariously funny and absurd piece. It was a revelation to me and I fell in love with it immediately.

 

It was my first venture into amateur dramatics since leaving school in 1966 having rediscovered acting by a circuitous route that began with singing with choral societies at school and in Plymouth, Maidenhead, Epping and Brentwood and which then took in performing in musicals with Brentwood Operatic Society. Acting with various local am dram groups after the move to Colchester inevitably led to directing and I’ve been fortunate to have acted in and directed shows for Nayland Village Players … and more recently for Sudbury Dramatic Society. This is my first directorial role with Lavenham Players and I’ve enjoyed the experience enormously.

Tom Stoppard (Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty

CREDIT: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty

First performed in the Criterion Theatre London in 1968 with a cast that included Richard Briers, Ronnie Barker and Robin Ellis, The Real Inspector Hound remains one of Sir Tom Stoppard’s most enduringly successful and frequently-performed plays.

 

Stoppard’s short but elegantly satirical piece, which examines the themes of fate and free will, may well have been inspired by a period he spent in Bristol in the 1960s as a journalist. Reviewing plays was part of his duties so that his writing in this play clearly reflects his first-hand knowledge of the world of the theatre and theatre criticism … and of course his familiarity with their respective frailties. It’s said that his play within a play takes as its reference point Agatha Christie’s classic murder mystery, The Mousetrap, so that The Real Inspector Hound’s absurdly complex and farcically stylised plot twists … as well as its stock surprise ending of course … will resonate comically with all of us, blurring as it does the boundaries between the ‘real’ world and the world of the imagination.

The Papplewick Players Presenteth

Romeo & Juliet on Radio Lavenham

Written and Directed by Nick Paley

 

Performed on 1st - 2nd March 2019 at Lavenham Village Hall

"A comedy of mixed egos, misplaced romance, and peculiar accents, as the Players are out of their depth when unexpectedly called on to perform a radio version of Romeo and Juliet"

confusions - by alan ayckbourn

old Buckenham hall - 1st & 2nd June 2018

 

Confusions is a play consisting of a series of 5 interconnected one-act plays. It was first staged in 1974 and played by just five actors. The scenes are all loosely linked by characters or locations, but more subtly through the common underlying themes of obsessionisolation and human desire for companionship.

 

This, our first full play, was professionally directed by Nicholas Paley - a first for Lavenham Players, and a tremendously valuable insight into stagecraft and theatre. Nicholas is currently the Principal at The East Anglia School of Acting in Ipswich. He graduated with a Masters Degree from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and has worked for over 15 years as an actor, director, writer, producer, stand up comedian and arts facilitator. Theatre is his great love but he has also worked on film, television and new media projects.

 

Lavenham Players were also very fortunate to gain the support and incredible generosity of the Headmaster and support team at the nearby Old Buckenham Hall School in Brettenham. They offered us the use of their superb facilities in the Britten Hall in which to stage our play. Over the course of the various stages of the production, OBH were very accommodating. We were able to make full use of the lighting, sound and effects systems. The audiences on the two nights were thoroughly entertained and came away very impressed, and enthusiastic for more. The Headmaster at OBH was so impressed that he donated the costs of the hall hire back to us, effectively making the hire of the hall a gift to us, for which we are truly grateful.

Below are just a few photos of our journey to Confusions.

A murder mystery

February 2018

One hundred and twenty guests filled Bildeston's Chamberlin Hall on Saturday 24th February, for what was a truly enjoyable evening. Lavenham Players were asked by the Monks Eleigh Village Hall trust committee, to provide entertainment for their fundraising evening to raise money for the final stages of construction of a new village hall.

 

Lavenham Players' very own Paul Vella, produced a superb murder mystery performance in which some dinner guests find themselves under suspicion in a murder investigation after the rich owner of the country house they have been invited to, is found dead in mysterious circumstances.

Some imaginatively named characters begin to accuse and suspect each other, with the ever watchful detective Austin McClue submitting evidence and clues for the watching audience.

 

Taking part were Paul Vella (Austin McClue), Richard Fawcett (Brian Sewer), Julie Moss (Mary Jane Faithless), Gillian Fox (Kitty Killer), Jacqueline Clarke (Tamara Fara-Bucktooth), Dean Marshall (Champagne Charlie Bunson), Sally Day (Babs Crayfish), John Moss (Terence Shrimp) and Peter Day (Oliver Steed). The piece was set in the swinging sixties, with some authentic costumes and props to create the scene.

 

As a group, this was a new experience, and as it turned out, a very good one. We all learned a lot, and would do some things differently, nevertheless we would certainly all be happy to do more in the future - which is very appropriate, because Lavenham Players have been asked by two separate groups whether we would consider putting on similar performances for them.

Seasonal Readings at the guildhall

December 2017

Lavenham Players produced an evening full of festive readings, wine and cheese. All of which, took place in the beautiful Lavenham Guildhall.

The readings were a mixture of festive and seasonally themed pieces from a wide variety of authors and contributors including our very own Julie Moss, who wrote a lovely piece for us that she read on the night.

There was also mulled wine and cheese for all our guests and a chance to get involved in the fun with some audience participation.

Admission for this evening including the mulled wind and cheese was free, and in the spirit of the season, we asked for donations to the Lavenham First Responders and managed to raise a sum of £117, which was presented to a member of the responders team by Carol Keohane.

Suddenly at Home - by Francis Durbridge

Lavenham Village hall - November 2016

 

The eleventh Lavenham Players production at the Lavenham Village Hall. Directed by Sue Clark.

A thriller by Francis Durbridge, the master of suspense and famous for his Paul Temple series. The play weaves its intricate path through a story of love and greed to its ultimate end, death.