We were sad to report recently the passing of one of our long-standing members. Here are some fond recollections from some of his friends.
John was a member of Chads for more than 50 years, and he recalled that his first role was in1965, as Dr. Buchanan in a production of “Summer and Smoke” by Tennessee Williams, when tickets cost 3/6 (17.5p)50 years later, he played the benevolent Old Gentleman in “The Railway Children” which the adjudicator said he played “beautifully, with confidence and charm”
In between he played many and various roles with that same charm, which endeared him to many members, not only at Chads.
Mike Smith remembers performing with him in “Schweik in the Second World War” at the University Stage Society, which began a friendship of nearly 50 years, culminating in their playing together in a Chads production of Brecht’s “Galileo” Mike adds “It was always a pleasure to meet with him in the bar to share tales of life’s little ironies in warmth and good humour”, a sentiment shared by many others.
Among other roles, from Anouilh’s “The Rehearsal” via an award-winning performance as Sir Thomas More in “A Man for All Seasons” to Alderman Halliwell in “When We are Married” John made his mark, but one of the things he really enjoyed was working with members of the Youth Studio, particularly on Christmas Shows.
Sheila Burt worked with him on several plays, from “The Lion in Winter” to “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and recalls his impressive voice and stage presence, and his kindness and support for the youngsters, describing him aptly as “a lion of a man!
I can vouch for that personally, as I was able to persuade him to play the Tramp in Capek’s “The Insect Play”, a Youth Group production. During rehearsals, he would sit in the front stalls, surrounded by adoring young people, hanging on his every word.
On his wife’s retirement in the late 1990’s, the couple moved to Hayfield, to the hills they loved, and rapidly became pillars of their local community. Richard Humphry, a fellow member of Chads and The Garrick, and also a resident of Hayfield recalls
” John took up bell ringing at the parish church and officiated at local sheep -dog trials. Despite the distance he remained a member of Chads and was persuaded to take part in occasional productions. He was probably unaware of the great respect he inspired in his fellow actors.”
We will all miss this gentle giant,
(Compiled by Pam Slater and Sue Stokoe)
© Chads Theatre