Ground-breaking exhibition tells theatre company history

Amanda Evans and Peter Joyce settting up for the Wick Theatre Company heritage exhibition. Photo by Derek Martin DM1865416a
Amanda Evans and Peter Joyce settting up for the Wick Theatre Company heritage exhibition. Photo by Derek Martin DM1865416a

A fascinating exhibition of Wick Theatre Company’s history has been put together to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Peter Joyce, custodian of the archive, successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Southwick company received £8,800 to mount the exhibition.

The end result, which opens at Manor Cottage Heritage Centre on Saturday and runs throughout July, includes costumes, props and sound clips giving personal memories.

Curator Amanda Evans said: “It is going to be unlike any other exhibition in Southwick. It is ground-breaking for Manor Cottage and I hope it will bring more people in, as we have tried to include a broader view of Southwick Community Centre and the Barn Theatre.”

Amanda’s parents, Ralph Dawes and the late Betty Dawes, were founder members of the company, which started life as Unity Players.

She said: “When Mum passed away, we discovered she had a huge archive of papers, committee minutes, photographs and all sorts.

“It took us a long time to go through everything. Although Wick had its own archive, finding Mum’s archive of information was what prompted the idea to pull everything together and put together an exhibition.

“We have also tried to include a history of the community centre and the Barn Theatre because they were instrumental in Wick having a home. They have grown up together.”

Amanda had help from her father and long-standing Wick members Sue Whittaker and Margaret Davy in sorting the vast amount of material Betty had kept.

Peter, who has been a member since 1964 and run the website since 2002, said everything from both archives was collated and organised in date order.

“Part of the project was to celebrate something in each decade,” he explained.

Wick’s workshop team has built audio stands so visitors will be able to listen to recordings of members’ memories through headphones.

There will also be a television room, where people will be able to sit on the original theatre chairs to watch screenings.

The exhibition opens on the last night of Wick’s current production, The Tempest. It is open on Saturdays only, from June 30 to July 28, 10.30am to 12.30pm, but there is extended opening until 4pm for the first day. Admission is free.