The Wooden Spoons Theatre Company gave an outstanding performance of the ‘Time Explorers’ Feature at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery on Saturday 20th April.Advertisement
A team of actors, led by Sharon Lancaster the Creative Director, played the parts of several characters from Preston’s past. Faith Lucas played Annie Hill who was a mill girl from a portrait painted by artist Patti Mayor who was played by Carol Caine. Jonathan Knapp played the part of Will Onda, a successful film maker and entrepreneur based in Preston, Lancashire from 1908 and Debbie Naylor played Edith Rigby an infamous English Suffragette (1872–1948).
Each actor described in great detail to the audience, the personality of each character and what their place and standing was in life in the early twentieth century.
Faith Lucas portrayed Annie Hill as a poor but very lively mill girl who, like most of the female mill workers of that time, always wore a shawl and was in general, quite a perky kind of Lancashire lass.
Jonathan Knapp’s Will Onda, whose real name was Hugh Rain, was seen to be all that you would expect from such a man of his time, confident with a regal kind of stance and quite self important in his manner. Onda was in many ways somewhat of a legend in Preston as he was a great pioneer of the cinema which led to the opening of many such establishments all around the town, leading to a much loved past-time of Prestonians.
Sharon Lancaster of The Wooden Spoons informed us that Faith and Jonathan were responsible for most of the work in creating and researching the material for the ‘Time Explorers’ production and the company was very grateful for all that they had done and achieved.
Debbie Naylor’s Edith Rigby was a joy to observe and listen to and, as you would expect, was quite confident and outspoken of her part in the Suffragette movement, enjoying telling the audience of her sinister exploits in the name of women’s rights. Edith was instrumental in several misdemeanors in her quests as a Suffragette some of which included the smearing of tar on the Lord Derby statue in Preston’s Miller Park and burning down Lord Leverhulme’s house.
Carol Caine’s part of Patti Mayor included explaining to the audience how she came to paint the portrait of Annie Hill and how she imagined the poor mill girl’s life to be. Carol was also the narrator of the play throughout the performance and skilfully ensured that the audience gained a feel for the characters and the time that they lived in.
The performance was a real success, as not only did it allow the audience to learn of some of Preston’s people of the past, the company of actors afforded some very amusing moments throughout the performance giving a delightful balance of what life was like in Preston a century ago with some quite modernist humour. There was no doubt that the event was certainly an absolute hit with the young and old alike.
The Wooden Spoons Theatre Company is Preston based establishment, and you can find more information of the company on their website here and their Facebook Page here.
You can find out more about the characters played in the ‘Time Explorers’ performance in the ‘Discover Preston‘ exhibition in the Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston. You can also discover more about Will Onda from Emma Heslewood (Curator of History at the Harris) on her website.
Review by Paul D. Swarbrick & Gillian A. Lawson.
All photography by Paul D. Swarbrick.