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By late 1971 we were using a team of four: Peter, Karen, Guy and Nick Keeping.

  Everybody 1972

Nick, Guy, Karen & Peter early 1972

Leo Jones began to do lights and sound as the productions became more complex, and provided a useful extra actor for some sketches. We wanted music, partly to help costume changes, partly for a change of pace, and recruited my old friend John "Hutch" Hutcheson on Hammond organ, and David Thompson on drums. Hutch and Dave began by playing between sketches, then started to play during them as well. If you walked across the stage in a funny way, you found Dave's drums providing humorous accompaniment. If you mentioned a cold wind blowing, eerie Hammond sounds suddenly surrounded you. The music became part of the jokes, as well as providing Top 20-covers while we changed.

Peter & Nick 1972


Nick and Peter in J.P. Donleavy's "Peach Shoes", October 1972

The shows became more and more popular. We had three or four songs a show, and evolved some comic dance pieces (Karen did dance as well as drama) and usually ended the evening with a ballet send-up, or Nick, Guy and me dressed as the Rolling Stones or The Supremes miming to a record. When Hutch left for Sussex University, we recruited local ELT writer Roy Kingsbury on piano in his place. There was a grand piano at the side of the stage. We added John Jacobs on guitar, then Tony Lloyd on bass guitar. Tony later co-wrote the 'Street Life' course with Guy, which used original songs as contexts. Some weeks, musician acquaintances would appear for the fun, and we'd find two saxes or a trumpet in the "pit orchestra". Roy Kingsbury had written two albums of teaching songs, 'Sunday Afternoons' (Longman) and 'Seasons & People' (OUP), and when his co-writer Patrick O'Shea joined ACSE from Eurocentre, we added a series of stage duets sung by Patrick and Guy (Simon & Garfunkel a speciality). Nick Keeping left. Alan Tankard had become an important member of the company after also joining us from Eurocentre. We recruited Alan as a singer (three part hamonies with Patrick and Guy), but he soon turned out to be a natural comic actor.

Alan 1975

Until Alan joined, Peter had done most of the links and introductions. The skill was the ability to tell a joke if someone shouted. 'We're not ready yet' from the side of the stage. Alan took over some of the links and added a series of audience sing-alongs to the show, including a classic "Oh, Sir Jasper!". This was a great relief to me, as Alan was totally reliable. He always had a song or a long joke to fill any awkward spaces.

Left   Alan in 1975


The "classic" mid 70s line up was:

Peter, Karen, Guy Wellman, Alan Tankard, Patrick O'Shea with Roy Kingsbury (piano), David Thompson (drums), John Jacobs (guitar), Tony Lloyd (bass) Guy, Alan, Patrick, Tony, Dave and John could all sing. Paul Newman did lights and sound.


Dracula 1976


Alan, Peter, Guy & Karen in "Dracula"

Karen and I wrote sketches for improvisation. In the scripts, improvisation would build towards set scripted exchanges and punch lines. With the team we had, we could rely on everyone to keep the level of English clear, simple and funny. If someone thought of a great line, it was added and stayed in the script if we remembered it. But we did, because we recorded nearly every show, and Karen and I used to listen back, checking which lines got the best audience reaction.

We still did a play once a month until about 1976 because authentic plays were advertised as a feature in the school brochure. "The Ruling Class"by Peter Barnes, "Why Bournemouth" by John Antrobus, "Zigger Zagger" by Peter Terson and "Waiting for Godot" were our standard ones, though we did "The Fire Raisers" and "The Importance of Being Ernest" and "View from the Bridge" too. We even performed our version of "Why Bournemouth" at Bournemouth College. Otherwise it was all original material. In 1977 we held a one day ARELS course on teaching with drama, during which the participants sat in on a show with 300 students on the Saturday afternoon.

Zigger Zagger 1973

Peter & Guy in Peter Terson's "Zigger Zagger" 1973


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