Stagestruck-later known as Nation's Best Am Dram
Production for Sky Arts
Performed in May-October 2011
Broadcast November -December 2012.
In May 2011 we entered the Sky Arts Stagestruck Competition that was subsequently rebranded 'Nation's Best Am Dram'. This was a documentary/reality TV programme to 'find the best amateur theatre group in the UK'.
About 70 companies entered and all had to submit a five minute filmed piece from a list of major plays. We chose The Merry Wives of Windsor' in the style of 'The Obly Way is Essex'.
During the summer the 70 were whittled down to 20 and then, in late August, the final eight were chosen with the Players being one of them. You can see our audition piece above. The cast was Chrissie Richards, Caroline Petherbridge, Steve Foster & Martin Bedwell.
Next we were given a short scene from Ibsen's 'An Enemy of the People' with Caroline directing Chrissie, Martin, Steve, Tony Saxby, Mark Ratcliff & Lee Barnes. We were allocated a professional actor (Julie Graham-The Bill, Doc Martin) to work with us for a day. The TV crew visited us in reheasals and several members gave interviews.
We performed the piece at the Royal Theatre in Northampton on 9 October 2011. Depite putting in a good performance we were eliminated.
The overall winners (Crossmichael Drama Club) got the opportunity to stage a full production for one night at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End. A group from the Players went down to see the show.
There is a short excerpt from the program here that features Steve being interviewed.
Extract from 'Why am-dram ain't all ham' by Quentin Letts. Daily Mail Website 14 November 2012
Essex bricklayer Steve Foster pauses with a lump of wet mortar on his trowel. After changing into character, the nasal-voiced, side-whiskered Mr Foster, 63, starts spouting Shakespeare.
'Mistress Ford,' he cries. 'I would thy husband were dead: I'll speak it before the best lord. I would make thee my Layydee!' And with that he throws back his head and gives a filthy, Sid-James-style laugh before returning to his wall.
Brickie Foster is one of Britain's large, neglected tribes: the amateur dramaticals. There are thousands of them up and down the land. Some act well, some appallingly. Some sew costumes, some paint backdrops, some do the make-up and some boss everyone around while directing the shows.
Britain's am-dram scene is lively, growing - but is often sneered at by the wider world. Am-drams? Oh, you say, that's ham actors standing with their feet at a 'quarter-to-three' angle in front of wonky props. That's prompters in the wings shouting lines at half-deaf thespians. How wrong you are.
Having just taken part - as the Mail's theatre critic - in a TV talent show about am-drams, I can tell you they're on a roll. Or rather, a role.
Steve Foster belongs to the Heath Players from Hatfield Heath on the Essex-Herts border. He is about to play Sir John Falstaff in an Essex take of The Merry Wives of Windsor (the wives are done up like ageing Spice Girls).
Fellow stalwarts in the troupe, which was founded in 1967, include a marine surveyor, a Vauxhall car dealer, a teacher and a civil servant.
That, anyway, is what they do by day. By night they become a host of characters. As the saying went on Matthew Kelly's Stars In Their Eyes: 'Tonight, Matthew, I am going to be . . .'
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