Posted October 3rd, 2017

Lots of stalls and fun things to do at the Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre’s Autumn Fair. Cakes, CDs/DVD’s bric-a-brac, tombola, raffles, games – you’ll be spoiled for choice! Why not pop in for a coffee and stop for a ploughman’s lunch – perhaps with a glass of wine?  Admission is free!

This year, with no theatre venue available, we are moving along the road to All Saint’s Church Hall – the church on the corner of Carlisle Road and Grange Road.

Please do come to support us in our quest to raise funds to help preserve our wonderful theatre.  The Fair will be open from 11.30 am until 3.30pm

A summer afternoon of live music, Pimms, strawberries and afternoon tea and cake, gifts, raffles, tombola, games and so much more.

 

 

We invite you to join us for an a fun summer afternoon being entertained by Black Strap Molasses, the ever-popular group of Eastbourne musicians and vocalists who bring an eclectic mix of folk, Americana and songs they have written themselves.  Listen to them while enjoying a glass of Pimms,  or sampling some strawberries and cream or afternoon tea and cakes.

Perhaps try your luck on the tombola or raffles and browse the gift stalls – including the Friends of Eastbourne hospital’s flowers and gifts and the RSPB.

Come and soak up the atmosphere of a summer afternoon and help raise funds to support our lovely Devonshire Park Theatre.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Join Linda Regan and her actor husband, Brian Murphy, for lunch on Saturday 13 May to hear how she combines her successful acting career with writing hard-hitting crime novels.

Both Linda and Brian have a special affection for Eastbourne and they have very generously donated their time to enable the Friends to raise funds to support the lovely Devonshire Park Theatre.

This event, a new venture for the FDPT,  is open to the public as well as members of the FDPT.

Tickets:  £25 per person (£2 off for members of FDPT)
Venue: 
International Tennis Centre, Devonshire Park, Eastbourne
Time: 
12 noon for 12.30pm

For full details on how to obtain tickets for the lunch, please view and download the order form here.

Born into a theatrical family, Linda Regan has been a professional actress all her working life with a career that has included television, film and live theatre.  She is perhaps best known for her performance as the love-struck Yellow Coat, April, in the BBC hit sitcom “Hi-de-Hi”.   Her husband, Brian Murphy – who is also a Patron of the Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre – is still remembered best for his role as the henpecked husband George Roper in Man About the House and spin-off George and Mildred, with co-star the late Yootha Joyce.  He also had a seven-year stint as Alvin Smedley in BBC’s Last of the Summer Wine.

The crime novels Linda writes are police procedural and feature a murder division based in South London – where crime is fairly tough.  She says she writes it how it is, although all her work is fiction.  Her latest novel Sisterhoods has just been published and is out in paperback and as an e-book. Her theatrical roots and south-London background bring a real sense of authenticity to her work and, with her actor’s eye for detail and characterisation, many believe it is only a matter of time before her books are made into film or TV.

Despite writing from a young age, her first novel Behind You was very nearly not published.  She was so embarrassed by it that she threw it away – but husband, Brian, rescued it and sent it into Crème de la Crime worldwide search for new crime writers and she won it!

Join her on 13 May to hear the rest of her story ……..

Linda will also be selling and signing her books at the lunch.

If you have any queries relating to this event, please email enquiries@fodpt.org.uk

Following the success of the tours held recently, we are pleased to offer another chance to hear about the history of our theatre, go on stage and be guided through the technical aspects of staging a show and then see the backstage facilities for the actors.  Each tour will be guided by Edward Thomas, whose knowledge of the history of the DPT is unsurpassed.

The Friends are also holding a Spring Coffee Morning at the theatre that day so you will be able to buy coffee (or tea or soft drink) and cake in the bar as well as perhaps bagging yourself a cake from the cake stall.  Books, jewellery, tombola, raffles and lottery game will also be on offer.

There will be an opportunity for buying a memento of your theatre tour in the form of Edward’s informative book The Playhouse in the Park, which will be specially discounted on the day for those doing a tour, or some lovely notecards with photographs depicting the unique safety curtain or some of the beautiful aspects of our theatre you will see during the tour.

Do hurry to get your tickets for the tours – priced at £5 per person – as numbers are limited and those held in February sold out very quickly.  Tours start at 9.45am, 10.45am and 11.45am.

Book in advance to avoid disappointment by calling Maria from the Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre’s marketing team on 07955 432619 or by emailing enquiries@fodpt.org.uk.

Please join us on 20 May.

Remember if you are coming to the Box Office,
why not stop for a coffee?

Posted February 11th, 2017

Get a glimpse behind the scenes of our lovely  Theatre on Saturday 18 February.

STOP PRESS!  
These tours are now sold out, but if you would like to join our waiting list and be informed of when the next tours are scheduled later in the year please email enquiries@fodpt.org.uk

 

Hear about the history of the theatre and go on stage and be guided through the technical aspects of staging a show and then see the backstage facilities for the actors.

Each tour will be guided by Edward Thomas, whose knowledge of the history of the DPT is unsurpassed, and your visit will be rounded off by coffee or tea and a homemade cake in the bar.  All included in the price.

There will be an opportunity for buying a memento of your tour in the form of Edward’s informative book The Playhouse in the Park, which will be specially discounted on the day, or some lovely notecards with photographs depicting  the unique safety curtain or some of the beautiful aspects of our theatre you will see during the tour.

The first tour is at 9.45, but do hurry to get your tickets as numbers are limited.

Book in advance to avoid disappointment by calling the Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre’s marketing team on 07955 432619 or by emailing enquiries@fodpt.org.uk.

Tickets are priced at £6 per person to include refreshments.

Posted January 29th, 2017

Before settling down to a tea of sandwiches and cake at the Cumberland Hotel, around 100 Friends were entertained by their newest Patron, John Hester, with stories about his life as a “jobbing” actor.

The programme for our archives

 

 

John is well known to audiences at the Devonshire Park Theatre in recent years for his appearances in numerous Talking Scarlet plays – in which he made the role of the police inspector his own – and he is currently touring with their production of The Sound of Murder, which he is also directing.  As a memento, John handed over a programme for the show inscribed with personal messages from the cast – all well-loved visitors to our theatre: Michelle Morris, Kim Tiddy, Marcus Hutton, Ben Roddy and Jolyon Young (apologies for any omissions).  This will be kept for posterity in our archives.

 

 

Like so many of us, John’s love of the theatre stems from his very early childhood and he is not alone in his first experience being watching pantomime at Leatherhead Theatre.  The small John would want to sit in the front row – eager to be in prime position for any opportunity to go on stage!  He was also inspired by childhood holidays spent on the Isle of Wight when the theatre played a big part. Not only would John be fascinated by observing the actors leaving the theatre at the stage door, the three-play repertory system with each play starting on a Thursday meant that during a fortnight’s holiday it was possible to see all three productions.  He had hugely supportive and indulgent parents!

After school – where he admits the young John Hester was not encouraged to take up an acting career – at the early age of eighteen he started his training in 1976 at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London; a seedbed for many now famous actors of both stage and screen. Our own Chris Jordan and his wife Natasha are fellow alumni, along with other household names such as Hugh Bonneville, Penelope Keith, Sir Antony Sher, Julian Fellowes, Minnie Driver and Terence Stamp to name but a few.  John recalls it was a tough and strict regime, but he survived the eight term course unscathed and launched himself into his acting career.

His first job was in Chesterfield in two week rep and after eighteen months he joined Newpalm Productions as an Acting ASM in Tonbridge Wells.  He first worked at the Devonshire Park Theatre during the summer season of 1982 as the DSM and Company Manager when he was understudy for the late John Inman in My Fat Friend.

John’s career path then took him into Theatre in Education (TIE) with more than three years of touring the country bringing theatre to young people in schools and other organisations.  A spell with Vanessa Ford Productions followed when he worked mainly as Acting ASM.  He admits that it probably brought him one of his proudest moments of his career when, at the Westminster Theatre,  he ended up – thanks to the step-up understudy system and probably his own diligence – playing three roles in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader  from the Chronicles of Narnia!  Spells with Adrian Lloyd-James’ Tabs Productions followed and, of course, more recently his work with Talking Scarlet.

What John did not mention during his talk was that he has also been a speech and drama teacher for around 20 years and was Head of Drama at Newlands School in Seaford for three years, where he taught GCSE and A Level drama. He is a LAMDA examiner, an adjudicator for The British and International Federation of Festivals and has written a number of books on theatre craft.   He also runs his own very successful SPATS theatre school in Carshalton which focuses on bringing high quality professionally based acting tuition to children and young people.

A hugely talented man whom we are proud to have as a Patron!

Posted December 13th, 2016

“A bar reception with a difference”.  That was how this year’s after-panto reception was billed and it certainly lived up to its name.  In a Winter Garden Bistro festively decorated by Tricia Sneath and her team, a good number of Friends gathered to welcome the cast and company of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs after the evening performance on Tuesday 13 December.

Once again, Chris Jordan had delivered a truly traditional pantomime with plenty to interest and amuse both young and old – who could believe so much entertainment could be derived from ‘five toilet rolls”!  Spirits were high amongst the many Friends – some accompanied by the younger members of their family – as they enjoyed chatting with the cast.  It was good to see young Danielle following in her mother’s autograph hunting footsteps and all were grateful to the trio of young ladies who mingled amongst the crowd with their baskets of chocolates!

It is always a joy to meet the cast of the panto and to welcome back old friends like Tucker and Martyn.  Also good to see some of the ensemble members back again too.  With around sixty performances of the pantomime ahead of them, the Friends are always grateful to them all for being so willing to spend their precious time with us. It is an absolute delight meeting them and a shame that the Bistro will no longer be available for next year’s party – but who knows what 2017 will bring.

Posted December 11th, 2016

It will be no surprise that the 2016 Christmas Lunch at the Langham Hotel was well supported and exceedingly well received.  More than 100 Friends filled the restaurant to capacity to enjoy the traditional Christmas Fare – turkey, Christmas pud and crackers included.  And not to mention the visit from Santa Claus with a present for everyone.

A truism to say a good time was had by all – but perhaps on this occasion that was indeed the case!  The Friends are as always grateful to the Langham Hotel for the excellent meal and service and, of course, to the hard working Social Committee for arranging the event.  The raffle raised £214.50.

Once again a fundraising event for the Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre was dogged by the weather, but the wind and rain did not deter our loyal supporters from turning out for what was the last event to be held by the Friends in the Congress Suite before its demolition in the New Year to make way for the exciting developments at the Congress Theatre.

linda-brian-after-opening-the-fair

Opened by Friends’ Patron, actor Brian Murphy and his actress/crime novelist wife Linda Regan (and their delightful dog Frendy), the atmosphere was soon buzzing as the crowd moved around the various stalls bagging those bargains. As usual, cakes and toys proved winners but all the stalls were kept busy throughout the morning.  Trade was particularly brisk for Linda, whose new novel “Sisterhoods” is out later this month, as she and Brian sold and signed her books for eager fans.  The Friends are really grateful to her for donating the profit on these sales to them.

the-buzz-of-the-fair

Among the visitors were two cast members from “Dead Sheep”, Paul Bradley (well known to television audiences for his roles in “Holby City” and “Eastenders”) and Steve Nallon – a founder member of the “Spitting Image” team whose brilliant portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the play has received great critical acclaim. Eastbourne’s MP Caroline Ansell listened intently as he was interviewed by Edward Thomas as his alter ego, the Iron Lady herself!  We understand that she went to see the play for herself that evening.

Once again, the Friends were grateful to their members, distinguished visitors, the attending public and all those who supported their efforts at this fair which raised around £1,500 to be put to good use in our beautiful theatre.

 

 

Posted November 8th, 2016

Don’t forget to come along to the Congress Theatre on Saturday morning (12 November) for our Autumn Fair in the Foyer and Congress Suite. This year we are absolutely delighted to be welcoming our long-standing Patron, Brian Murphy, who will be opening the event at 10am.  Brian will be accompanied by his wife – the renowned actress and crime writer – Linda Regan who will be selling and signing her books.  Linda is kindly donating the profit from the sale of her books on Saturday to The Friends!

brian-murphy-and-linda-regan-2

With many different stalls and fun things to do – not forgetting our now famous cake and toy stalls – you will be spoilt for choice!  A good opportunity do some early Christmas shopping, or try to win some festive cheer in the wine and spirit raffles, or perhaps chance your luck on the tombola or the instant raffle. Then sit down and relax with a cup of coffee or tea and tempting homemade cakes and scones.

Help makes this Fair – sadly the last we will hold in the Congress Suite – the most successful ever!