Amateur Dramatics, Music Making and More ...
1. Oakridge Orchestra 1910 - 1920
Back L - R : L.Griffin, W.E.Blizzard, D.Minchin, S.Young, F.Webb, Hollis Gardiner, A.Ingram, A.G.Gardiner
Front : W.Wood, M.Webb, P.Stratford, S.Gardiner, S.Young
2. 1912 Village Annual Concert
3. The Oakridge Village Players, the cast of 'The Village Wedding', 1914
Back L - R : Sam and Jim Gardiner, Miss E. Brinkworth, Miss Trene Restall, Mrs. A Ingram, Gilbert Hunt
Front : Tom Gardiner, Kate Young, Fred P. Gardiner, Miss Louisa Gardiner, Walter Young
4. John Taylor, 1920's
Known as 'Uncle Jack' to many children in the village, John Taylor worked for the GPO at Mount Pleasant in London and married Mary Gardiner of Tunley. They spent many holidays in oakridge and France Lynch and eventually retired to Chalford. John was very keen on Music Hall and Magic and is pictured here with some props probably outside his sister-in-law's in Oakridge.
5. 'Props' List from an undentified play in the 1920's
6. Oakridge & Chalford Orchestra
7. Village Players - Can you help identify them?
8. A Scene from 'The Farmers Wife' in 1926
9. The cast of 'Fairy Gift', 1950's
Back L - R : Marie Wear, Claire and Rona Gardiner, Elizabeth Fowles, Jill and Vivian Hunt, Evelyn Fisher;
Middle :Berlyn Gardiner, Hazel Couldrey;
Front: Penny Hunt, Clare Fern
10. Oakridge Fete (Flower Show?) 1953
Elizabeth Fowles (Piano), Austin Gardiner (Violin), Dennis Weaver next to Austin and George Gardiner, top right.
11. The Oakridge Singers, Carol Concert, 1954
12. Alice Nation and the Pompian Dance Band outside of The Institute at Bisley, c. 1935
L - R : ?, Harry Dean (Trumpet), Sid Moseley (drums), George Hale (violin), Miss Alice Nation (piano)
13. The Cast of 'Robin Hood and the Tunley Witches' a Pantomime from 1985
14. Concert in St Bartholomews, 1987
15. A scene from 'Look Who's Talking' in 1997
There is an extensive chronicle of Oakridge Amateur Dramatics at : Oakridge Amateur Dramatics 2012 - 2003
William Rothenstein, a well-known village resident entertained many of his notable friends here including painter Augustus John, essayist Max Beerbohm, poet and dramatist John Drinkwater, essayist Andre Guide, Nobel prizewinning poet Tagore and A.E. Houseman, author of A Shropshire Lad.
Rothenstein was also actively involved with Village life and having experienced their Christmas ‘socials’ where the villagers would act out plays he approached Charles McEvoy in 1914 and obtained his permission to produce his play 'The Village Wedding' at Oakridge.
The rehearsals were a difficulty as the players attended or stayed away at their pleasure. The scenery was made by Harry Davoll and Fred Gardiner and Harry Davoll acted as stage manager. The Oakridge Orchestra, under the direction of Mr Hollis Gardiner played accompanying marches.
On the night of the performance they delighted their audience and subsequently recieved a glowing review in the Stroud Journal. This success resulted in William and Alice Rothenstein founding the 'Far Oakridge Dramatic Society' and each year after that Rothenstein produced a new play.
Many more plays were performed in Oakridge over the years with the 'Far Oakridge Dramatic Society' becoming the 'Oakridge Society' and then the 'Oakridge Players'.
Productions included The Wedding Bells, The Dragon, The Farmers Wife and Devonshire Cream to name but a few.
Among those who performed were: Tyroll Hunt, Iris Restall (Hunt), Irene Restall (Smith), Tom and Fred Gardiner, Mr Davoll, Nellie Restall, Teddy Hunt from Rookwoods at Waterlane, Cecil Wools who lived at Bywell cottage at the top of Tunley and Geoffrey Dearmer.
William Simmonds produced most of the plays, and also designed, made and painted the scenery as well as acting too. Some rehearsals were held at his studio at The Frith whilst others were held at the parish room every Monday night.
The parish room, made of corrugated iron, was located near the vicarage among the beech trees. As there was no commercial lighting at night time, villagers would often use a candle in a jam jar to light their way.
Villagers remembered that Friday night often provided wonderful entertainment with music provided by members of the Oakridge Band, which usually consisted of piano, violin and drums.
The WI held their meetings in the parish rooms and Saturday night was Whist Drive night, followed by ‘The Dance’. There was a simple atmosphere, everyone enjoying a great evening and there were no yobs or hooligans in those days. The only condition was that the premises were vacated quietly by 11.45 pm.
Mrs Ella Couldrey, wife of Mr Harry Couldrey, was involved in many village activities, in particular she produced plays, being responsible for costumes and scenery. One of the plays produced was Fairy Gift, which was performed in the parish room during the 1960’s The children used to have a great time.
Mrs Jill Fern (Iris Hunt’s daughter) remembered they used to wriggle on their stomachs under the ﬂoor of the parish rooms, accessed somewhere by the porch entrance, carrying candles and matches, until they gained the stage where they could open the little door into the parish room.
They knew they should not have been there, but it was such good fun!
In 1956 Lady Rothenstein announced that she was writing a book 'Now Defunct' on Oakridge drama with a forward by Max Beerbohm, but unfortunately no trace has been found.
In the 1980's the performances were mainly pantomimes but 1993 saw the Players reformed and this enusiastically continues to this day.
There is an extensive chronicle of Coakridge Amateur Dramatics at :
Oakridge Amateur Dramatics 2012 - 2003
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