Children’s drama in Steyning

Pierot children in 1920s
Pierot children in 1920s

Steyning Museum’s ongoing exhibition Steyning on Stage has showcased the history of amateur theatre in the town.

But as well as the glittering costumes, playbills and photographs of the adult thespians, we are showing the important part that children have played in our theatrical past.

From nativity plays, with the familiar angels, shepherds and Wise Men played by the youngest of children, to the sophisticated drama performed by Steyning Grammar School, the exhibition shows a huge range of activities.

Perhaps my favourite photograph is the one above of a troupe of rather reluctant looking Pierrots in splendid costumes dating from the 1920s.

It is difficult to choose from so many treasures – a terrifying crocodile head brings memories of Peter Pan, and a top hat from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is almost delicious.

And a recent discovery of a superb papier-mâché giant’s head from The Selfish Giant shows the talent of the backstage wizards who enable these shows to go on.

So many groups have been involved over the years.

The Woodcraft Folk assisted in a production of ‘Yanomama’ which was put on by the Children’s Drama Group and highlighted the destruction of the Amazon and the implications of climate change to our world.

The drama department at Steyning Grammar School has tackled subjects of massive political importance, such as apartheid in South Africa, posters for which can be seen in the display.

Perhaps you took part in children’s theatricals in Steyning?

If you did, do come and re-kindle your memories.

We’d love to hear any stories you have to tell.

This is an exhibition which will delight all visitors – young and old, one-time thespians or newcomers, everyone will find something of interest here.

Steyning on Stage is at Steyning Museum until March 31. The museum is opposite the parish church in Church Street, Steyning. The exhibition is free to attend and is open Tuesday to Sunday.

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