Strangers trade stories in Arundel Festival Short Cut on stage

Stuart Smithers by Rosey Purchase
Stuart Smithers by Rosey Purchase

Husband and wife team Stuart and Dawn Smithers combine once again for Stuart’s eighth in his series of Short Cuts at the Priory for the Arundel Players at the Arundel Festival.

Writer and performer Stuart will be directed by Dawn in Jetty at the Arundel Players’ Priory Playhouse from August 19-24.

Stuart, who has written all the plays so far, is delighted at the series’ continuing success in its 11am slot during the festival.

“In the beginning we were up against the theatre trail which is very well established, but over the years I think we have got our own following…. Last year we got the best audience of any of the years since we started so I am hoping for more of the same this year.

“I just enjoy doing it. I enjoy the fact that I have got the facilities in the theatre, a proper lighting man, a proper soundman and a proper stage.

“I have written all eight and I never intended to appear in any of them. I appeared in one of them two years ago but that was because I couldn’t get the second actor and so I did it, but this year I am appearing in it by choice.

“But I didn’t write it with myself in mind. None of the plays are written with specific actors in mind.

“I was casting around for people who could do this play and there are definitely other people who could play it, but I rather fancied doing it myself. I like the part.”

It is summer, early morning, at the lakeside. On the jetty, two strangers, keeping their distance, observing the boundaries, preserving their space....... until, one speaks and the world shifts.

Will guarded secrets once revealed draw them closer together or drive them further apart?

Stuart will be sharing the stage with Pennie Billinghurst.

“As the title indicates, it is set on a jetty… in the Lake District.

“It is inspired by the fact that we like to go up to the Lake District quite often. We stay in Keswick and we quite often walk around Derwentwater.

“There are a lot of jetties, and I saw these jetties and started thinking what would you do on a jetty early in the morning.

“It is a good way of bringing people together that don’t know each other.

“It is two people, a man and a woman in their 60s on this jetty. They don’t know each other. They just happen to be there early in the morning. He is reading a newspaper and she is standing at the end of the jetty. Inevitably they talk to each and they think of what the other’s story is as a game, as an icebreaker.

“It is ‘I will tell you what your life is and you will tell me what my life is and let’s see if we get it right!’ It starts from that premise.

“Do they get it right? The real stories of their lives start to come out.

“I was asked to describe what kind of play it is, and if pressed, I would say that it is a romantic comedy of the third age.”

Part of the pleasure is to be directed by Dawn: “She is the director in the family. I have dabbled. But she is the director.”

The performance dates are Monday, August 19 to Saturday, August 24 at 11am.

Tea and coffee will be served before and after each performance.

Tickets cost £5 and can be bought on the door or reserved by telephoning Dawn Smithers on 01903 412990 at any time up to Friday, August 16.

Arundel Players’ Arundel Festival evening production this year will be We Happy Few by Imogen Stubbs.

Performances will be at the Players’ Priory Playhouse from August 17-24 – a fictitious story inspired by the Osiris Players, Britain’s first all-female professional theatre company founded in 1927 and led until the early 1960s by the indomitable director Nancy Hewins.

Tickets for the evening production are available on www.arundelplayers.org.uk.

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