It's a cracker for local amateur dramatic group


A local amateur dramatic group has returned home after competing at the 2019 British All Winners Festival in the UK, with travel support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

Five talented members from Rushen Players were invited to the week-long celebration of theatre to perform their award-winning performance of Alan Bennett’s ‘A Cream Cracker Under The Settee’, which won Best Play, Best Actress, Best Comedic Moment and Special Dramatic Contribution at the island’s One Act Festival of Plays earlier this year.

The British All Winners Festival, which took place in Woking, Surrey, celebrates the very best of British amateur theatre. Organised by the National Drama Festival Association (NDFA), only winners of NDFA member festivals, such as the One-Act Festival and the island's Easter Festival, are eligible for selection.

It is an opportunity for winners from across the British Isles to come together competitively for one last time at the end of the festival season, and it’s recently been announced that the Isle of Man will play host to the event for the second time in July 2020.

‘A Cream Cracker Under The Settee’s’ cast and crew comprises of 86-year-old Pat Clewis who plays the leading role; Ian Galloway, who has a short but vital role as a policeman; director Adrienne Sanderson; stage manager Susie Beswick and lighting and sound technician Ron Beswick. All five live in the south of the island.

This marks the second occasion Rushen Players has participated in the British All Winners Festival, having performed the award-winning ‘I Dream Before I Take the Stand’ in 2016, directed by Susie Beswick.

Adrienne said: ‘A Cream Cracker Under The Settee’ is essentially a monologue, where for 35 minutes, the phenomenal Pat holds the audience spellbound, moving them from laughter to tears and back again. This is a feat for a performer at any age, but Pat pulls it off triumphantly, demonstrating that age is no barrier when it comes to the dramatic arts. I feel quite sure that if Alan Bennett knew Pat, he would be writing plays for her.
‘It was an absolute pleasure to watch her transport the audience with her engaging performance in Woking, she did so well and especially considering she was up against such a high calibre of performers. There were 17 top quality plays in the festival and although we didn't receive an award, we received a good adjudication and felt honoured to be a part of this prestigious festival.

‘It was incredible to fly the Isle of Man flag and showcase the high standards that our island holds in the arts, as well as making connections with other groups and promoting the great drama scene on the island. Overall it was a truly rewarding and enjoyable experience for all.

‘Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was extremely helpful and enthusiastic in arranging our travel, we are most grateful for its support towards this theatrical adventure. We must also thank Isle of Man Arts Council for its generosity too.’

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was pleased to provide travel support for Rushen Players as they travelled on and off the island to perform.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘To be selected for the British All Winners Festival is a great honour so congratulations to all involved. It’s a pleasure to offer our support to Rushen Players as it represented the island in the dramatic arts.’