Newport Actors All Set for Gwent Drama Festival

April 21, 2012

Stand-up comedy, spooks and suspicion are all part of the madcap mix when three of Newport’s leading amateur theatre groups take part in the Gwent Festival of One Act Plays at Blackwood Little Theatre on Friday 27th  and Saturday 28th  April.

'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell

Chris Powell (Hamlet) and Will Smith-Haddon (Yorick) in 'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

First on the bill is ‘Poor Yorick’ by local writer Phil Mansell. One of the plays featured in the recent highly successful No Holds Bard festival, this innovative comedy tells how Hamlet’s jester attempts to pioneer stand-up comedy but instead becomes embroiled in plans for revenge.

'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell

Will Smith-Haddon in the title role of 'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“It’s really great being able to take my play to another theatre and to compete in this prestigious drama competition,” said Phil.

“My play opens the festival on the Friday night and we’re hoping for as good a response as when we performed it at the Dolman Theatre last month.

“The festival features six great plays, and with tickets priced at two for just £7 it offers a great night out for anyone who loves fresh and exciting new theatre.”

Following Phil’s play is another Newport drama group, Playgoers New Generation (PNG) who present ‘In the Spirit of Things’ by Steven Quantick.

'In The Spirit of Things' by Steve Quantick

PNG’s three witches: Charlotte Webb, Sian Elizabeth Pope and Clare Davies in ‘In The Spirit of Things’ (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This is another comedy about “business unusual” at Incorporeal Incorporated, where the witches from Macbeth provide supernatural guidance to the mortal realm.

'Bottoms Dream' by Alan Poole

‘Bottom’s Dream’ features James Thomas, Emma Radmilovic, Ellie Tappin and Dana Symonds who are members of Dolman Youth Theatre. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

On Saturday Dolman Youth Theatre present ‘Bottom’s Dream’ by Alan Poole, which explores who really dreamt the Midsummer Night’s Dream – and what were the reactions of the mechanicals’ wives and mothers to their play-acting?

Other plays are being presented by Ad Hoc Theatre from Cwmbran and  Blackwood Little Theatre. All the plays will be adjudicated with the chance of going through to the Welsh finals in June.

The Gwent Festival of One Act Plays is at Blackwood Little Theatre from 27th – 28thth April.  To book tickets – which are just £7 with a special buy one get one free offer – phone  07930 599317  or online at

Alan Bennett’s Battles with a Lady Tramp Hits the Dolman Stage

April 12, 2012

The true story of what happened when a female tramp parked her dilapidated old van in writer Alan Bennett’s front garden unfolds on the stage of the Dolman Theatre from 17th – 21st April.

Lady in the Van

Kevin Myers and Alex Wilson as two different sides of playwright Alan Bennett wheel Miss Shepherd (Ruth Ferguson) round the garden (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

The acclaimed play ‘The Lady in the Van’ is the latest production by Newport Playgoers. It tells how Bennett deals with the two elderly women in his life – the indomitable Miss Shepherd who takes up his invitation to park her van in his garden and stays there for 15 years, and his mother who has started her long decline into senility.

Directed by Ray Stone, this wonderfully witty drama is based on Bennett’s memories and asks whether the playwright’s good deeds in helping these two ladies are borne out of guilt, altruism or a mercenary eye for a good story.

The play also excels in revealing the two sides of Bennett – Alan the man and Alan the writer – in an ingenious device that lets the two sides of Bennett’s personality interact.

Lady in the Van

Kevin Myers as Alan Bennett and Ann Kelly as his Mam (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The Lady in the Van’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 17 – 21 April. Tickets can be booked by phoning the box office on 01633 263670 or visiting

Lady in the Van

Miss Shepherd (Ruth Ferguson) is given a push in her infamous van by Alan Bennett (Alex Wilson) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)