It’s SHOWTIME! again for the entertainment buildings of Camberwell

Camberwell Palace, one of Camberwell’s most significant entertainment buildings

On Monday 5th June there’s a fantastic opportunity to hear about Camberwell’s fascinating entertainment history, taking place in a building which in itself is worthy of a visit.

The Golden Goose is a long-established pub which has recently been repurposed to become a 70-seat theatre. The theatre has generously donated its space for this event.

As part of the Camberwell Festival of Arts, seasoned presenter, historian and enthusiast Richard Norman has been invited to give another entertaining presentation under the festival’s theme of SHOWTIME!.

In Richard’s fascinating talk, you’ll discover Camberwell’s contributions to the world of entertainment during the early days of pioneering film production and music hall, variety theatre, and comedy.

With film clips, songs, and music, this special Camberwell Talk promises to be an memorable evening!

Richard Norman is a local historian specialising in buildings designed for entertainment and has given numerous talks at the Victorian and Albert Museum, Tate Modern and many local history societies.

It takes place on Monday 5th June at 7 pm at the Golden Goose Theatre, 146 Camberwell New Rd, SE5 0RR, which is just 10 mins walk from Oval tube or Camberwell Green. Ticket prices are £10 (£7 concessions) and include a complementary glass of wine.

Tickets can be booked at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/…/camberwell-talks…

The talk starts at 7pm and runs about an hour. Don’t miss out on the raffle with prizes at the end of the evening, with all proceeds going to SE5 Forum, which aims to improve the area for benefit of all visitors and residents.

See you there!

Your dapper host for the evening, Mr Richard Norman!

Watch STIRRING UP SHEFFIELD from Theatres Trust

In 1969, work commenced on The Crucible in Sheffield, designed as a thrust stage theatre in the style pioneered by Tyrone Guthrie.

Earlier this year, Theatres Trust broadcast a fascinating online talk about how a group of visionaries came together to build this revolutionary thrust stage. And now, thanks to their generosity, you can see it here. The talk, which lasts an hour, is introduced by Jon Morgan of Theatres Trust and the talk is given by Tedd George, co-author of the book Stirring Up Sheffield: An Insider’s Account of the Battle to Build the Crucible Theatre.

Enjoy!

Watch STIRRING UP SHEFFIELD here


Time Travel Theatre – Celebrate Music Hall and Variety Day 2023 by watching the Last Night of the Crazy Gang- 61 years ago!

What better way to celebrate Music Hall and Variety Day than with a celebration of the Crazy Gang.

The Crazy Gang “at the races”

The Crazy Gang was a unique combination of three double acts – Flanagan and Allen, Naughton and Gold, Nervo and Knox. Occasionally they were joined by “Monsewer” Eddie Gray (who had been working with various members of the Gang since the twenties). Their compatible styles, combining music, interruptions and knockabout comedy with seemingly unscripted verbal and physical acrobatics, slapstick and rapid-fire visual gags was hugely popular with British audiences for over three decades.

It all started at the London Palladium. George Black, the impresario and Managing Director of the Palladium, had in 1928 revived the Palladium’s reputation as the premier variety house in the UK, with spectacular success. The biggest names in variety appeared on ambitiously mixed bills, and the management were not averse to experimenting- pantomime was tried in 1930, to great success, and became a staple throughout the thirties at the venue, running in extended seasons from December to Easter.

The Crazy Gang came into being by accident. All relatively successful double acts themselves, in 1931 two of the pairs – Naughton and Gold and Nervo and Knox – were booked, together with another double, Billy Caryll and Hilda Mundy, to appear at the London Palladium in the same week. Bud Flanagan recalled that “in 1926, Nervo and Knox were appearing in a show, Young Bloods, in which they interfered with every act on the bill”. By 1931 it was well-known across the business that Nervo and Knox had a reputation for interrupting other people’s acts, and although George Black initially considering cancelling one of the teams, he was persuaded by Val Parnell to let the bookings proceed, allow Nervo and Knox their head – and see what happened!

The bill was promoted as Crazy Week, opening in November 1931 and booked for two weeks. Two weeks became eight months as crowds jammed the Palladium – Crazy Week became Crazy Month – and in June 1932, Flanagan and Allen replaced Caryll and Mundy to create the classic line up that was celebrated for the next three decades. All participants experienced more success together than they had apart, fused in the public mind as a unit.

The Gang played long seasons each year in the 30s at the Palladium in various shows all tailored to their particular style. They also found time to make a number of successful films for Gainsborough Pictures. When the war came, they split, to perform for the troops as three double acts again, so that they could cover more ground. This was a time when Flanagan and Allen’s songs came to the fore and cemented them in the public mind as a key link between the home front and the battle front.

The Gang was persuaded to reunite in 1950 by impresario Jack Hylton (without Chesney Allen who had decided to retired from the stage), they took up residence at London’s Victoria Palace, where they stayed for the next twelve years, presented by Jack Hylton in a variety of vehicles all loosely constructed to allow the Gang’s magic of mayhem to flood across the footlights and keep packed houses well-satisfied. Eddie Gray, a comedy juggler with a hilarious Cockney-French accent who had worked with the team early on in their careers, became a regular addition to the Gang from 1956 onwards.

The Gang’s last show together was entitled YOUNG IN HEART and ran from December 1960 until May 1962, when it was announced that the show would close and the Gang would retire. Although the separate acts continued for a few years, the Gang was gone…

The TV highlight of the week in May 1962

Thankfully for us, ATV filmed the last night of their last show on Saturday May 19th, and it was networked on ITV the following evening as The Last Night Of The Crazy Gang, running 90 minutes. It’s a very special nostalgic night, and there’s a guest appearance by Chesney Allen (who comes up from the audience), and the band in the pit is conducted by producer Jack Hylton himself.

So here, thanks to YouTuber Pete Faint, we can all enjoy The Last Night of the Crazy Gang – and raise a glass to these (sadly) long-gone heroes of Music Hall and Variety

EXTRA: You can read my article about legendary impresario Jack Hylton here

For more information on the Crazy Gang you may enjoy a visit to this specialist site http://www.thecrazygang.co.uk/


Women’s Prize for Playwriting receives 1,002 entries!

Now that this year’s submissions for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting have closed, the award organisers tell us that they have received 1002 entries, which is amazing.

What is also amazing is that this prize is the very first which celebrating and championing female and non-binary playwrights in the UK and Ireland.

The Women’s Prize for Playwriting is open to writers who are female or non-binary, aged sixteen or older, and resident in the UK, Republic of Ireland or in a British Overseas Territory, or have a British Forces Post Office address.

The winner receives £12,000 and a full production of their play.

A longlist will be produced in October, a shortlist/ finalists in November, and the winner announced in mid-December.

We look forward to the shortlist, and remember- its never too early to start thinking about your script for next year’s prize!