Messing around on stage in 1958


If an anguished cry of “oh, it’s finished” ever greets the end of a play, you know it’s been a good one.

That was exactly what happened in 1958 when a group of schoolchildren performed The Princess and the Pudding at Wisborough Green village hall.



The play had been written by Mrs CV MacGibbon, who was a teacher at Springfield Park School, and starred 14 children.

Among them were John Taverner, who played the Royal Butler.

A report in the County Times said he performed the role with “complete assurance and diction that would have put many an adult to shame”.

Then there was Elizabeth Muir as a “delectable, if disagreeable” princess, and Pamela Campbell and Anthony Nicholls as the queen and king.



Still on the stage, but with slightly older actors, the Storrington Dramatic Society put on a showing of The Happiest Days of Your Life.

While no exclamations of disappointment from the audience were recorded when the play finished, the comedy was met with rapturous applause.

Among the stars were Audrey Ayling, as the principal of a girls’ school, Jack Simson, as an assistant school master, Lena Tyson, as a games mistress, and David Fielder, as the Reverend.

When it came to the future of British stage and screen talent, 1958 was a good year. It saw the birth of Gary Oldman (Dracula) and Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who).



As for films, it was the year of The Vikings, South Pacific and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

One play which has always been popular, no matter the year, no matter the location, is the school nativity.

Our picture shows members of the Holy Trinity Junior Youth Club, performing at the church, in Horsham, who had given the greatest story ever told an modern twist when it came to their costumes.

The three wise men, for instance, were dressed as a scientist, a teacher and a businessman, while the shepherds wore wellies – as all sensible shepherds do.

As for Mary and Joseph, they were shown as two travellers lugging their suitcases away from the inn after being refused a room.

Our final picture steps away from the stage and into the world of the Lower Beeding Women’s Institute, which was celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Do you recognise any of the ladies in the picture?

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