Some years ago the photographs taken at various Takeley pantomimes were collected together, probably by Les Frost, Takeley school headmaster and a leading figure in producing the pantomimes until 1952. These photographs became part of the Takeley Local History Society collection and now after many years in our care it is time to publish them with all the other information about the Takeley Pantomimes that we can find. Foremost among this additional information are the reports from the Herts and Essex Observer. Pat Salmon passed many hours trawling through back issues of the Herts and Essex Observer extracting anything Takeley related and so we are very lucky that we already have reviews written at the time of the Pantomimes, although more remain to be found. We also have some copies of the programmes – more may be found in the future.
The pantomimes were produced and performed by the Takeley Players as far as we currently know between 1939 and 1957. These are not to be confused with performances by Takeley Drama Group who also performed in the Silver Jubilee Hall from around 1949 to 1961 or a subsequent group who performed in the Silver Jubilee Hall in the 1980s. A separate booklet of photos from the Takeley Drama Group is also being produced alongside this booklet and we recognise that there is work to be done to complete both of these.
Meanwhile we offer this draft copy via our website for anyone to print, perhaps help us to identify the actors and maybe contribute any other photographs or memorabilia that you have. If you have any knowledge of the plays or perhaps recognise a face in the photos please contact: email@example.com
We have not yet uncovered the full extent of the shows put on by the Takeley Drama Group but a newspaper report in 1949 for School for Spinsters mentions that the group was then two years old suggesting that it started in 1947. We also have evidence (newspaper report from March 1961) that there were still plays taking place in 1961. It is fair to assume the people involved over this time frame would have changed and for all we know at present the group may have continued long after 1961. We also know of a subsequent group who regularly performs in the Silver Jubilee Hall in the 1980s.
Whilst most of the actors and production crew appear to be a different set of people to the Takeley Players we do note that Mair Evans who usually played a witch in the pantomimes also had parts in the Drama Group productions.
Joseph Gunyon was the producer of these plays and Ron May would appear to have been the leading male actor. We have found some newspaper reports which suggest that at least two plays may have been put on a year. We have around 70 photographs which we believe are of the Drama Group productions but I am sure there is a wealth of photographs and programmes yet to be discovered.
Some of the Drama Group actors we have identified to date from photos are:
Ron May, Billy May, Joan Gunyon, Mair Evans, Marjorie Jones, Marjorie Watson, Nora Lambert, Sid Hopkins. Michael Crow, Derek Turner, Ron Bolton, Ron Gunyon, Maureen Reeve, Margaret Butler (nee Bolton), Madge McFarlane, Millicent Felgate, Joyce Cox, Mrs Nelson.
In a draft issue of the Drama Group booklet are the titles and dates of plays we have discovered together with any newspaper reports we have found. The aim is to expand each of these with reports and photographs.
After that there is a large section of photographs that we believe come from the Drama Group plays but have not been able to identify.
There are some clues in the newspaper reports, names of cast etc which should gradually allow us to sort them out. We can also try and group where the costumes match from one photo to another and this is how the photos have been grouped together.
Obviously, this booklet is a work in progress. Meanwhile we offer this draft copy via our website for anyone to print and attempt to identify the actors or attribute the photographs to play titles. If you have any knowledge of the plays or maybe recognise a family member please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org