With grateful thanks to compilers Jackie Finlay and Andrew Jenner, here is a list of past productions held at the Grange. Those named with links underlining them will take you through to the dedicated show page. As the list begins to be populated by photographs taken over the years it’s becoming apparent that many of them are of quite poor quality compared to those (especially digital ones) taken today. Although we have a number of black&white semi-professional shots created during rehearsals or posed after a show, the majority were simply the result of a cast- or crew-member taking their camera along to a rehearsal on the off-chance of an opportunity for a photo or three. Some were taken from the control room and these are the worst because they were taken through amateur double-glazing, over the heads of the audience, under mixed lighting conditions and aimed at (usually) moving targets. Obviously flash would have been completely disruptive and the standard 35mm slide film wasn’t of the quickest. Better quality are those taken behind the scenes or during rehearsals when flash was acceptable. At the time we really didn’t imagine these photographs would become such important archive material – we were living for the day, not creating works of art. But they’re all we’ve got, these images; some from over forty years ago. In our minds they engender many memories and we hope they’ll help capture the essence of the Grange and all who sailed in her.
Probably the most ephemeral of documents are the theatre tickets; a number survived at the Grange (usually a couple for some shows which were printer’s ‘overs’ and which Fred or Val used afterwards as handy little note cards). Tickets carried the date and year of the show, which was handy for us when setting the shows in correct order. Why on earth the programmes themselves weren’t dated is a puzzle never now to be solved.
Unsold programmes tended to be dismantled after a show and their covers re-used for the following production. We are, however, tremendously grateful to the late Mrs Fred Timms who – with her husband and friends – supported us for many years and who kept many programmes as mementos. Towards the end of her long life she donated them to Fred and Val in the hope they might be of use. They certainly have been …
While our memories have come up with the plots of a number of past shows, we’ve also been heavily dependent on the internet for sourcing synopses and freely acknowledge and thank those sites we have plundered.
Naturally there was a considerable amount of work involved in staging any production and ticket sales came high on that list. To find out more about that aspect, follow this link or, for a history on how our programmes developed over the years, please click here. As each production’s page’s tabs become populated with Programme, Cast and Photos, the Memories, Letters and Publicity tab at far right is also worth a visit as stories begin to appear.
And speaking of stories beginning to appear, at present (March 2018) there are literally hundreds of freshly-scanned photographs which have been uploaded to their respective show pages. To speed their appearances, no captions have been added at this point because we’d rather let you see the pictures as soon as possible – rest assured, though, that their captions will appear as quickly as time allows.
As the photos progressed through the scanner it became very clear that they fell into distinct categories: pictures taken on stage during rehearsals when the cast weren’t in costume; pictures taken behind the scenes during a show when the cast were; and, finally, pictures taken on-stage during the show either at rehearsals or with the audience present. Now, while the theatre staff were familiar with the Grange’s room layout, most visitors to this site won’t be, and so many backgrounds to the pictures could be the set or an interior of the house! In time – and please be patient, gentle reader – we’ll re-order and caption each photo’s location to make things clear.
To enlarge any image just click on it. Some allow of a second click for a second enlargement.
As a final note to this preamble, some of you reading this may have in your own archives photos, programmes, press cuttings etc. If so, we’d love to add to this collection with anything you can offer. Please email email@example.com for further details.
And now, on with the shows!
1974 Lorna Doone, dramatized by Valarie Temlett from the book by R.D. Blackmore: Folk Concert, The Threewheelers: The Kinecroft Theatre Company presents Madame Butterfly by Puccini: Flare Path, Terence Rattigan
1975 Little Mermaid, Valarie Temlett: An Evening of Opera with Janet Edmunds: Private Lives, Noël Coward: Folk Concert, The Threewheelers: Ghost of Summer, Valarie Temlett: The Little Minister, J.M. Barrie
1976 Relatively Speaking, Alan Ayckbourn: The Kinecroft Theatre Company presents Tosca, a one-act opera by Puccini: The Hollow Crown, John Barton: The Man Most Likely To, Joyce Raeburn: Dear Love, Valarie Temlett: Cinderella, Valarie Temlett: Fallen Angels, Noël Coward
1980 Drama Festival, Oxfordshire Women’s Institute: How Green Was My Valley, adapted by Valarie Temlett from the book by Richard Llewellyn: The Intermezzi Ensemble presents Marriage of Figaro by Mozart: The Hollow Crown, John Barton: A Classical Music Quartet with Fiona Sampson (violin), Russell Brandon (accompanist) and the Borodin Second String Quartet: A Concert of 19th-Century Music with Jane Stein and the Wessex Ensemble: A Classical Music Concert with Gerald Garcia (guitar) and Clive Conway (flute): Flare Path, Terence Rattigan: The Intermezzi Ensemble presents two one-act operas by Jacques Offenbach, Husband at the Door and ‘Love Apple’ Elizabeth Tapestry: Time and Time Again, Alan Ayckbourn: Fantasy… a Victorian Christmas, Valarie Temlett: “With Great Pleasure”, a BBC recording with Celia Johnson and Rod McKuen
1982 Arms and the Man, Bernard Shaw: A Classical Guitar Concert with David Taplin and Peter Wiltschinsky: An Evening of Magic with Graham Anker: Ghost of Summer, adapted for the stage by Valarie Temlett from the book Fruit in Season by Anthony Thorne: Beau Brummell, Paul Alexander: Rookery Nook, Ben Travers: Close to Home, Alan Ayckbourn: Children’s Day, Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall
1984 Harlequinade, Terence Rattigan and Sweet Echo (adapted for the stage by Valarie Temlett): Absent Friends, Alan Ayckbourn: Who Goes Home? (on the life of Disraeli) Researched and written for the stage by Valarie Temlett
1997 On Approval, Frederick Lonsdale:
1998 – 99 THEATRE CLOSED (for desperately needed house maintenance )
2005 ‘Larks With Other Birds’, an evening’s entertainment with Kipper Chipperfield and Sarah Verney Caird
2007 Voice in the Shadows, Freda Kelsall (adapted with permission by Valarie Temlett)
2008 Private Lives (excerpt) and Brief Encounter, Noël Coward
2009 The Shell Seekers, adapted for the stage by Valarie Temlett from the book by Rosamund Pilcher
THEATRE FINALLY CLOSES (to learn of its subsequent fate, go here)
Some extracts from the many letters of appreciation and thanks sent to Fred and Val over the years of the theatre…
“I felt I must write and express our admiration for the superb production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My wife and I have seen the play in large theatres but none of the performances captured the intimacy of last night when we felt ourselves involved in the dream world created by the cast’s portrayal of Shakespeare’s vision and the wonderful set which was outstanding. Such a memorable evening!” May, 1989.
“….how very much I enjoyed the production of Flare Path. The aircraft taking off sounded as though they were flying right over the Grange itself – it really made one feel ‘prickly’ all over!” November, 2003
“I write to thank everyone concerned with the production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for such an enjoyable evening on Saturday. The setting, the acting, behind the scenes activity, the food, drinks – everything quite perfect. Above all else though the thorough professionalism and yet extreme friendliness of everyone.” July, 1983.
“Wow! You have a great band of people around you…”
“Just to let you know how much I enjoyed Thursday’s performance of Flare Path. It was refreshingly ‘up-beat’ and absorbing, and altogether it was a lovely evening.” November, 2003.
“I had to write to congratulate the whole team for the wonderful performance of Under Milk Wood last evening. The adaptation, the set, the lighting, the acting, speaking and singing all contributed to a splendid production. I think it was the best yet. May there be many more…” June, 2000
“You really are quite amazing, staging consistently high-standard productions within a magical setting – many congratulations yet again. We all thorough enjoyed our Saturday evening and Flare Path and now look forward to next year’s productions….” November, 2003
“…you really are splendid, putting so much effort into your productions and then donating the profits to charity. If there were more people like you around, the world would certainly be a better place….” (undated)
“….we still speak with disbelief of the staging for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I suspect that (shades of Macbeth) you arranged for Cornbury Forest to move to Little Tew!” April, 1993
“…letting you know how much we all enjoyed On Approval and – as always – our whole evening at The Grange. The play was so charming and The Grange, as always, was gorgeous. Our guests were very impressed, as they should be!” May, 2005
“….I hope you know how much we appreciate being on the booking list and the trouble you take to contact your patrons with production details….”
“A note to congratulate you and your company of players and helpers on your excellent production of Flare Path. As always, it was another professional success and we all enjoyed the evening very much. Looking forward to next year’s productions.” December 2003.
“Just a quick note to congratulate you and your company of players and helpers on your excellent production of See How They Run. As always, it was another professional success and we all enjoyed the evening very much.” (undated)
“I would like to say how very much our whole group enjoyed your recent production of Under Milk Wood and we had a Welshman amongst us who said that the Welsh accents were faultless. So, congratulations again!” June, 2000.
“Yet again you have given us the joy of an outstanding production. The lack of individual applause was because we did not want to break the spell, but I’m sure you could sense that we were all with you around the village pump…” April, 2000.
“We so enjoyed and admired the play last night. The play itself is an admirable distillation of the main phases of Disraeli’s life, not an easy one to condense. I had not previously realised that you, Val, had read Victoria’s letters to Disraeli. One knew that he was her favourite and that she detested Gladstone, but I had no idea that her actual letters were extant. And what an excellent cast you assembled. Both Disraeli and Mary Ann could hardly have been better portrayed…..” May, 1994.
“…during the production, my hearing aid failed but my disability meant that I could concentrate on the way the play was being staged. I felt it was as perfect and complete a production as one was likely ever to see. Not only was the casting so admirable but the staging virtually told the whole story and the personalities of the individuals involved. Running it over in my mind this morning my recollection is as vivid as it was at the time…” 22 May.
“Another, without doubt, inspired production. Under Milk Wood is far from easy, yet you kept and maintained the simplicity, the humour and every character grew in front of our eyes. I loved the voices and all the personalities were so well described and painted. My interest never wavered and I think the production was marvellous: creative and lively.” June 2000.
“I would like to congratulate the people who design and build your sets. It never ceases to amaze me how much you achieve in such a small area.” (undated)
“I wish to express my enjoyment of – and admiration for – your biographical play on Disraeli. It gave one a most convincing picture of the man, and was most ingeniously constructed. The production and the casting were also most effective and I much admired your back-cloth of Hughenden. It provided an evening which I shall recollect with pleasure for a long time to come.” December, 1984.
“We consider ourselves fortunate to have seen your latest play on its opening night – Chekhov’s Wild Honey. It was most enjoyable. The cast came over very well and the scenery and sound effects added to the enjoyment”. May, 1996
“Congratulations on the production of Flare Path. ‘Professional’ is a horrid word and often means inferior to amateur, but your production had that right kind of professionalism which means competent performance (except that some of your actors and actresses went far beyond mere competence). A superb set, and fine production, which meant that the play never faltered and the action kept going well all the time…” September, 1974.
“We have just got back from the Grange Theatre and felt I must write straight away to thank you and your group of actors, actresses, technicians and helpers for another superb evening’s entertainment. We thorough enjoyed The Barretts of Wimpole Street. The performance maintained the high standards we have always come to expect from the Grange Theatre. I must tell you that the lady at the end of our row was sobbing uncontrollably during the last act when Mr Barratt was confronting Elizabeth!” December, 1989.
“To all performers and helpers at The Grange Theatre. Just to say a very big thank you for the wonderful performance you gave last Saturday. I really enjoyed Night of the Iguana and would love to have seen it again if I had the chance. I’m sure you all loved doing it and working together. I thought the choice of play was fantastic and I am sure everyone felt like having a little weep at the end. Thank you again.” July, 1986.
“Just wanted to write and say how much we all enjoyed A Touch of Spring on Saturday. It’s a super play. I would love to think our Players could do it some time, but I fear we would not be able to sustain the accents! The Grange players were first-rate and I thought Baldo the finest piece of characterisation I have seen in a long time.” November, 1990.
“This is to express our appreciation of the joy that you bring into so many lives with the theatrical productions at The Grange Theatre. The rendering of The Barretts of Wimpole Street was superb and we would be most grateful if you would kindly convey our delight and best thanks to all concerned. We count it a great privilege to be so warmly welcomed into your home for these entertainments. We consider them to be on a par that anything Stratford or the West End can offer.” December, 1989.
“…these evenings we compare to the old Country House parties of a bygone age.” December, 1989.
“A note to say how much we enjoyed watching See How They Run. Your standards by far outweigh some recent productions in the West End Theatres. Your theatre is known far and wide, and we felt quite privileged to come with a friend last night. May there be many more.” November, 1994.
“We all enjoyed ourselves so much on Wednesday evening. The production of Key for Two was such a delight. I haven’t laughed so uninhibitedly for a very long time! The acting was excellent and the whole set a pleasure to look at. We look forward to the next production.” November, 1985.
“It is so enjoyable having a theatre just up the road and my friends and I have so enjoyed your magnificent production of How Green Was My Valley…””…” May, 1991.
“Dropping you a line to say how much we enjoyed The Darling Buds of May. The television version was a hard act to follow but your company did the job superbly. Many congratulations to Valarie for a first-class job.” November, 1991.
“I must tell you how very enjoyable I found your production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was. The casting, acting, direction were all excellent, the scenery superb, and I have never enjoyed any production of ‘The Dream’ so much. What next wonders will you give to us?” May, 1989.
“We so enjoyed last evening’s performance of Who Goes Home. Disraeli and Mary Ann were marvelous and the supporting cast were good too. The set and scene changes were excellent and we sat entranced by the whole show.” December, 1984.
“Writing to let you know how very much we enjoyed the production of Wuthering Heights. The sets were fantastic and helped so much to evoke a genuine atmosphere of the period. I am sure, Val, you must have felt satisfaction with this incredibly good production and we can but send you our heart-felt thanks for having adapted the story into a play for the stage. I am sure a very demanding and painstaking task, but it certainly has paid off! I’m sure Emily Bronte (where she alive today) would agree….” October, 2004.
“Many thanks again for such a wonderful evening yesterday at Blithe Spirit. We all enjoyed the play in the lovely setting of The Grange so very much. What a great talent you have to bring happiness to so many people – we feel very fortunate that you live in Oxfordshire! We are already looking forward to your next production and I know that now, whenever I hear the song “Always” I shall remember Blithe Spirit at the Grange Theatre. From your very firm fan!” May, 2002.
“I had the pleasure of attending your productions of Harlequinade and Sweet Echo having been invited by some very good friends. I felt I must write and tell you how much I enjoyed the atmosphere, the venue, the cordial welcome I received when I arrived and the parting smile when I left. Let alone to say the wonderful performances of all concerned and no doubt, enormous efforts from those off stage.” April, 1984.
“The memory of an evening at The Grange Theatre lingers with impressive effect. No wonder your audiences keep coming and your mailing list is fully subscribed!” (undated)
“I write to say how very much enjoyed Night of the Iguana. It was a splendid production, in a brilliant setting, which gave a remarkable feeling of heat and tension. And the acting was admirable – as we have come to expect from the Grange Theatre.” July, 1986.
“My wife and I had the privilege of attending the Grange Theatre on Thursday last and immensely enjoyed the performance of Who Goes Home”. December, 1984.
“We had such a delightful evening at your production of Absent Friends and felt I must write to say how much we enjoyed your play. Your theatre was small, so we in the audience felt part of the production. The acting, the staging, the costumes, in fact the whole production was of the highest order…” December, 1984.
“My husband and I enjoyed your recent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream so very much and would like to thank you, and all the members of your team for such a wonderful evening’s entertainment. We were really transported into a fairy-like world and were very impressed with the illusion of space created by the stage setting, not to mention the many entrances and exits from different parts of the stage, which added an unexpected note. A truly memorable performance.” May, 1989.
“Congratulations on yet another fabulous show. Best wishes to the company. (Contract arranged for an extended run at the Barbican!)” (undated)
“Thank you so much for enabling us to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As with all your productions, it was pure joy. We both enjoyed the theatre so much; the pace never flagged, it was so funny and the scenery delightful – a mysterious forest with hidden entrances and a hollow tree for Puck to conceal himself and make more magic. The lighting had done much to depict a large forest and the set was superb.” May, 1989.
“After meaning on several occasions to attend a production at the Grange Theatre, we finally managed to get to the Christmas production about the Barretts of Wimpole Street. We thought everything about the Theatre was as delightful and unique as we had heard, and your personal welcome made it seem more like a gathering of friends than anything involving formal arrangements. Thanks to you and your wife for providing so much real pleasure, which I heard echoed by many people in the audience. We would very much like to come to future productions, and I ask to be put on your mailing list….” January, 1990.
“Thank you for such an outstanding evening. We are full of admiration for Who Goes Home. Many congratulations. We look forward to next season!” December, 1984.