IT IS one of those stories that you think just has to be fiction.
An eccentric woman takes refuge in her van in a quiet street in Camden Town. When the council tells her she has to move on, a kind resident offers to let her park in his garden for a few months until she sorts something out.
Fifteen years later, the van is still home for Mary Shepherd, who could scarcely have found a more extraordinary place to take up residence than the driveway of writer Alan Bennett. And yes, of course, he used the unique relationship which evolved between him and Mary as material for a play.
In his hands, this is a debate about the fundamental reason for doing good acts. Was it purely unselfish philanthropy or is it a matter of self-pride, enabling us to congratulate ourselves on being so kind to others?
Riveting, entertaining theatre is the result and you can see all of that in Halifax from tomorrow (August 30) where Halifax Thespians stage Bennett’s The Lady In The Van at the Playhouse in King Cross Street.
Jeanne O’Rourke plays Mary and Alistair Cheetham and Ian Byfield play Alan Bennett who decided to splitting his character into two, one at the age of the portrayed events and an older, more sceptical Alan Bennett, who is able to take a retrospective view and discusses with himself (the other Alan Bennett) the philosophical issues and true reasons for his kindness to Miss Shepherd.
The play also uses the talents of Kathleen Smith, Diane Sibley, Huddersfield’s Nigel Town, Kristina Boothroyd, Dorothea Annison, Colin Fine, Rob Billson and Derek Smith. Yvonne Kniveton directs.
John Worrilow has spent many hours building the van which has to be on set throughout the show. It may well be hired out for other productions of the play.
Performances run at 7.30pm from tomorrow until September 6. More details on www.halifaxplayhouse.org.uk or call 01422 365 998
lIF YOU fancy honing your acting skills then Halifax Thespians are running a course aimed at helping you to do just that.
Total Theatre, the society’s training arm, is again running its acting course which comprises three workshops run over two evenings and a full Saturday in mid-September.
The workshops at the Playhouse in Halifax, are designed to expand an actor’s range of skills.
Mike Bellenie, the workshop leader, directed this year’s Total Theatre production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and some of those involved have gone on to appear in recent studio and main stage Thespian productions.
This latest course runs on September 11 and 12 (evenings 7.30-9.30pm) with a full day session on September 13 (10am to 5pm). It is open to those 16 and over and costs £20, including refreshments, £15 for members and £12 for students.
To book a place and/or to get more information contact Pauline Sykes on 01484 427 038 or go to the website www.halifaxplayhouse.org.uk