After the triumphant sell-out success of ‘Allo ‘Allo! in July, the Rye Players’ Autumn production is Make Way for Lucia by John van Druten. This is a particularly appropriate production for the Society, as the play takes incidents from the novels concerning Mapp and Lucia written by E. F. Benson which are set in a fictional Rye, re-named Tilling, and weaves them together to form a flavour of the novel.
Directed by Dilys Mayor, the cast is headed by Susannah Mayor as Lucia and Clare Murray as Miss Mapp with James Black as Georgie Pillson and Andrew Godfrey as Major Benjy. Other roles are played by Yvonne Hamilton, Jane Horne, Carol Gasson, Helen Gray, Bob Percival and Del Smith, and there will also be a cameo appearance from Allan Downend as Mr Wyse. Allan is the Secretary of The E. F. Benson Society, and has written the following introduction to the play.
E.F.Benson was born in 1867 at Wellington College, where his father was Master, indeed the first Master of the newly founded school. His father went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1882. E.F.Benson first visted Rye in 1900, when he went to visit Henry James. He began living at Lamb House in 1919 and that remained his Rye home until his death in 1940. The first in the series of books that became known as the Tilling novels, was Queen Lucia, published in 1920. There then followed, Miss Mapp, Lucia in London, Lucia’s Progress and Trouble for Lucia. The first two Lucia books, Queen Lucia and Lucia in London, are set in Riseholme, and it is only in Mapp and Lucia, that he brings his two formidable heroines together in Tilling.
Benson refers to this series as “small beer” in his last book, Final Edition, an autobiography, but to his admirers this is where he put his genius. E.F.Benson became Mayor of Rye in 1934 and was Mayor for three years. He was also one of the town’s J.P.’s. It was Benson who installed two of the wonderful stained glass windows in the Church, in the South Transept and the West Window. The latter is now in need of restoration to ensure its safety and an Appeal for Funding has been launched by the Friends of St Mary’s.
Make Way for Lucia is performed by The Rye Players at The Community Centre on 28. 29 and 30 October 2009. Tickets will be available from the Box Office, 2 East Street, Rye. There are limited opening hours so please call ahead on 01797 225915.
Rye’s Own October 2009
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