Just a quick note to tell you all that although growth on our website appears to be slow, we’re actually working our way through the very large archive rescued from the house and – as the many photos need scanning – they’ll appear bit-by-bit once their respective provenances are settled.
Many thanks to Jackie Finlay for posting the basic listings of shows we put on during the theatre’s lifetime. Again, in time, we’ll be able to add notes and photos to the relevant titles, and I know she’s waiting impatiently for me to unearth a series of “thank you” letters from grateful patrons so she can process them (the letters, not – um…!)
I’ve also taken a couple of photos of the stage and auditorium as it now stands entirely empty – not a view our patrons would have seen, and one which only a few enthusiasts were faced with back in the late ‘sixties before the building’s conversion.
More news later!
Well, it’s a year ago since I posted this news and progress is still on-going now in July 2017. A lot of photos have been scanned but uploading them takes time. The next tranche will cover our final show, The Shell Seekers, and will expand the associated memories attaching to it. Hopefully, this will happen within the next fortnight. Watch this space . . . !
Busy behind the scenes?
Are we clearing the gutter above the auditorium roof of snow so the audience don’t get wet?
Well, since my previous posting life has dramatically got in the way – as it often does. But now here we are in mid-December and I have more free time to devote to this website.
Back in August Bushy Fade asked (tongue-in-cheek) whether we were busy clearing snow to keep the audience dry? Obviously not a summer occupation but he was referring to one particular moment during a winter show (can’t just recall which one now) when – at the start of the interval – a patron found Fred and, rather meekly, informed him that water was dripping down onto his seat B2 and could anything possibly be done to alleviate the problem?
*sigh* Luckily there wasn’t any complex set-change into Act 2 so ladders were hurriedly brought round and Fred (in full DJ) shinned up and found the roof tile which had slipped enough to allow rain penetration.
January 2018 and pretty well the final part of our story has been added (Dismantling the theatre) although there’s one further article to come regarding coralling (!) some audience members if they’d gone exploring the gardens during a show’s intervals and were late back for Act II.
There’s still a good number of show photos to be identified/sorted/scanned but, as always, we will be most grateful if you’ve got any tucked away that we could copy.
Early March 2018 now, and almost all the show photographs from the archive have been identified, scanned, tidied up, resized and uploaded to their relevant entries on our website.
The next task will be to add the names of cast members to each image – a daunting prospect and one which I’m afraid will naturally take quite some time because not only the electronic image needs captioning but each physical photograph in the archive requires the same annotation: sadly there’s no guarantee this website will survive for the same length of time as the archive itself should – once our work is finished, the archive will be lodged with the Oxfordshire Museums’ Resource Service as part of their own local history archive.
However, having the show entries at last populated with supporting photos is in itself a huge step forwards and we ask your patience in the coming months as we continue our task.
Nice work KB. Completely true about the website of course, however your efforts are definitely not wasted. Even if we did lose the website at any time through malware, or just not feeding the appropriate pay slot, there will always be a digital back-up of all data and photo’s. If Oxfordshire Museums’ resource service also would like a digital copy I’m sure we could oblige.
July 2018 and work gently progresses. In fact, now we’ve discovered around 20 ancient VHS tapes, each of which carries one entire performance of a show. Unfortunately the tapes had been stored in a damp room and were absolutely covered in mould; so much so that I couldn’t even wind them by hand, never mind in a VHS player.
In despair I took them to a local computer repair shop whom I’ve used down the years (Quick Fix Computers, Broad Street, Banbury OX16 5BT – 01295 251581 – website at http://www.quickfix-computers.co.uk ) and these marvellous chaps act as agents for a video/film transfer company. I was most impressed, just two weeks later, to receive 21 shiny new DVDs onto which each show had been carefully copied once the wizards had somehow purged the tapes of years of mould etc. As a satisfied customer I can very heartily recommend them.
Of course, now I have the task of watching each one on a computer and trying to get screen shots of suitably interesting moments during each show. It may take a while . . .
A chance meeting with Keith last week was great. I didn’t know about this web site. Nice to see so many photos.I have unearthed a recording of the Pam Ayres With Great Pleasure recording from Christmas day 1979. I think i also have a programe for Why Not Stay For Breakfast.
Stephen’s a very patient chap – it’s ‘only’ taken me four months to add the programme and (as a bonus) a newspaper critique for Le Chandelier which he’d found in his home. I believe Graham’s seeing whether he can embed the Pam Ayres recording into our site, but there may be copyright issues to sort out first.
A delightful interlude, when a friend (Jill Lea) made contact with us. Jill was part of the Grange’s gang back in the day and had professional theatre contacts. Her quite diminutive frame held a particularly dedicated character, and Fred was always quite content to accept whatever work she’d undertaken, without him having to check it afterwards (not always the case with some folk!) They both share(d) the determination to do a job to the best of their ability, and it was a joy when Jill recently made contact.
Even better was her acknowledgement that somewhere in the cellar of her home in France (which she shares with the ever-patient Chris) are a few boxes still containing Little Tew ephemera. A quick search has already turned up two programmes we hadn’t got in the archive! Welcome back, Jill and Chris!
Update time – mid April and we’ve started to view and abstract stills from some 20 videos of past shows. This is exceptionally time consuming (the video has to be viewed in real time and, when a suitable frame appears, freeze it, take a shapshot, process it via Photoshop and add it to this website in jgeg format under its correct show page. Repeat ad infinitum to end of show!) but will at least provide images from shows for which there are no pre-existing photographs available.
And while this process is in its early stages, an idea struck us: many shows do have photographs of the action and, currently, some have every image captioned whilst others merely tell the viewer “awaiting caption”. This quickly leads to rather boring repetition. By far a better proposal is to add at the beginning of the photo series one further one which contains thumbnails of the cast members – in order of appearance – so that the viewer will recognise that person as the photo show progresses.
So far only Absent Friends has been thus treated and although the appearance of the thumbnails needs fine-tuning, I think it’s fair to say the idea actually works. So; one done, around a hundred to go – and that’s before we really get stuck into the video backlog.
As we often say; please have patience. When the archive is finally completed and this website brought to fruition, the story of the Grange Theatre will be safe for all time.