Keeping the Selsey theatre dream "warm"

Gillian Plowman
Gillian Plowman

With renovation of the old theatre looking a step nearer, Arts Dream Selsey is “keeping the Pavilion warm” with two productions this year.

October will see a staging of Journey’s End; May 24-29 will see a double bill of plays, written and directed by Gillian Plowman.

“The plays have a common theme – the consequences of a random act of kindness – and touch on issues that affect us today, sensitively played by brilliant young actors in Touching Tomorrow and by experienced older actors – including me! – in Beata Beatrix. In both these plays, a random act of kindness changes lives.

“In Touching Tomorrow, Dorcas looks after her happy-go-lucky brother Vincent. She brings home traumatised Gemma, who has been living on the streets and invites her to stay. Dorcas’s reporter friend Kate sees an interesting story developing and begins to delve into Gemma’s past. But Gemma has a devastating effect on Vincent and his friend Sholto.

“In Beata Beatrix, a shy, middle-aged woman on a guided tour of an art gallery notices a man crying in front of a painting and makes the decision to ask if she can help. The consequences of this decision enthral a group of American tourists! But Jon and Beatrice reveal haunting secrets which are about to change their lives...”

Gillian says she is feeling confident the renovation of the theatre will go ahead. The productions will help keep it in people’s minds – and underline the venue’s huge potential.

“We seem to have formed a little repertory company. We do pay our actors and our technical staff, subsidised from our ticket sales, and the front of house is the coffee bar, which is lovely. The rest is derelict. There is no heating, and there is no real lighting. When you do a performance there, you have to bring everything in, but the basic facilities are there. We have a temporary stage which is fairly firm. We have a room and we have chairs!”

And slowly, the theatre is being reclaimed.

“I have been here 30 years, and for years I had no idea what was behind that wonderful façade. Now I just love it. I love the different paints on the walls and the peeling paint, everything about it.

“It is such a special place especially when you think a hundred years ago, the Russian ballet would come here. It was on the south-coast circuit. People would go to Portsmouth and Worthing and Selsey, and as a theatre, the acoustics are really good.

“Last year we did two plays of mine that seemed to work well together and now it is another couple of my plays. I think they work well together because they do share a couple of themes, the idea of this random act of kindness.

“They are not for younger children. The first play has a quite contemporary me-too theme, sexual harassment. Was it sexual harassment or was it not sexual harassment? A young woman is vulnerable and is living on the streets, and a random act of kindness brings her into a home.

“The second play is also a random act of kindness. The first play is the younger actors, and the second one is the older actors.

“It deals with things like grief and bereavement, and it is about how acts of kindness affect us as humans, something that somebody does that changes everything for someone.”

Performances are in The Pavilion, 103 High Street, Selsey. The box office is Highhouse Insurance Services Limited, 101 High Street, Selsey or online at www.artsdreamselsey.ticketsource.co.uk.

For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2

https://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/theatre-and-comedy/review-random-generations-minerva-theatre-chichester-until-june-2-1-8494542

https://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/theatre-and-comedy/chancellor-s-lectures-at-chichester-cathedral-1-8491946

https://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/arts/careers-beckon-after-fine-art-degree-show-at-university-of-chichester-1-8492039

https://www.worthingherald.co.uk/whats-on/music/d-arcy-s-great-musical-challenge-in-arundel-1-8486857