Memory Lane: DramSoc in the 50s

The university's clubs and societies are where lifelong friendships are formed and lasting memories are made. It's where this Memory Lane tale begins too! Dr Caroline Ellwood - known then as Carol Clarke - (History, 1954) shared the above photo with us and tells us the tale of her time as a member of DramSoc in the 1950s...

Pictured: Rex Satchwell, Carol Clarke, Peter Medland, Eddie Truman, Gwyn Neale - "Love's Labours Lost" 1953.

Pictured: Rex Satchwell, Carol Clarke, Peter Medland, Eddie Truman, Gwyn Neale - "Love's Labours Lost" 1953.

DramSoc in the early 50s - what an exciting time and how fortunate we were. DramSoc was not just a club, it was the unifying force that many talents working together and having fun can produce.

What engineered this heady atmosphere was the extraordinary creativity of the members at that time, in particular John Izbicki, Gamini Salgado and Robert Brustein - all poised (though we did not know it), for future fame.

John Izbicki's own translation of 'The Earth Spirit' by Wedekind was a notable event not just for DramSoc. He played the part of Swartz, Peter Medland was a most effective Dr Schon and Olga Lincoln was an exotic Lulu, (a very junior member at that time, I did the makeup). Produced by Brian Merrick and Peter Quartermain it involved a cast and crew of 30 showing how popular the society was.

Gamini Salgado's production of 'Love's Labour's Lost' was another 'tour de force'. It was set in the style of the 1890s, complete with Constable Dull (Gwyn Neale) entering on a Penny Farthing. A typical Salgado witticism was printed on the back of the programme: "The most that is claimed for our production is that it shows the play to be at least as alive as 'The Importance of Being Earnest'. It is also the least."

John Chaldicott was a flamboyant Don Adriano de Armado, Rex Satchwell was Sir Nathaniel and I had moved up a few notches and was the naughty Jaquenetta. (see picture)

Share your Memory Lane story!

Were you a member of a band? Maybe you found love on campus? Whatever your memory, we would love to hear it and maybe it will appear on these pages! Email and put 'Memory Lane' in the subject line.

What exciting times we had creating sets on the stage of Great Hall, slapping on '5 and 9', dashing off to Nelly Smith's for costumes, falling in and out of love. Full of enthusiasm, our next production was taken on tour. Produced by John Williams, 'Toad of Toad Hall' performed for a local school was a romp.

John Chaldecott was the ebullient Toad, memorable when dressed as a washerwoman. Peter Medland was a suitably growly Badger, Rex Satchwell completely fitted the part of the loveable Mole and Rene Watts made a suitably suave Ratty. Poop Poop!

'Antigone' and 'A Phoenix too Frequent' were a success, but the highlight of that year was Robert Brustein's production of 'The Philadelphia Story'. Robert was at Nottingham on a Fulbright Fellowship and already showing the brilliance that was to develop into a remarkable and continuing career as scholar, critic, author and founder and promoter of his own theatres.

Three notable influences - Gamini Salgado, who became Professor of English at Sussex University, John Izbicki who became education correspondant, diarist and critic for The Daily Telegraph, and Robert Brustein a leader in the world of US theatre.

They were an inspiration, but then so were so many more who helped DramSoc have three very productive years. Chris Garnett the ever resourceful stage manager, Joe Watson on lights, Noreen Osborne ready to do any backstage job and all those other enthusiasts who made the society a success.