Challenging nights at SCDA One Act Festival

Feb 4 2013 | By More

Eight contenders in Valentine’s showdown at St Serf’s

Sparkeshark by Philip Ridley, performed by EPT at last year's festival SCDA One Act Festival

Sparkeshark by Philip Ridley, performed by EPT at last year’s festival. Photo © Walter Hampson Photography

By Thom Dibdin

The SCDA’s three-evening festival of one act plays opens at St Serf’s in controversial mode on Valentine’s night with a Sixties examination of racism deemed so problematic it comes with its own contents warning.

Now in its 81st year, the one act festival sees amateur theatre companies from all over Scotland competing in local heats around the country. The winning two productions move forward to a second round of four regional heats, with a Scottish final held at Pitlochry Festival Theatre in April.

This year, there are eight entrants for the Edinburgh heats. Leitheatre and St Serfs Players have two entries each, other Edinburgh entries come from EPT, the Mercators and the Edinburgh Makars. The eighth production comes from from the Livingston Players.

The entries range from the ancient to the modern. Noel Coward’s Still Life opens the festival as one of the Leitheatre entries. The 1936 play, with a twelve-strong cast, was written as one of a dozen to be performed over three nights, and was later filmed as Brief Encounter.

Closing the festival is Neil Robertson’s You Really Got Me, one of St Serfs Players’s entries. Set in a Fisherman’s mission on the east coast of Scotland in 1967, Robertson’s play will get its world permier at St Serf’s.

In between, the most contentious play is likely to be the Edinburgh Peoples Theatre entry: Ritual for Dolls by George MacEwan Green. First performed in 1969 it is set in the late Victorian/early Edwardian era and portrays 19th century attitudes to race, gender and British Colonialism – complete with the language of the time – in an attempt to make its audience to reflect on their own prejudices.

Challenging both themselves and their audience are the Livingston Players who take on Geraldine Aron’s Donahue Sisters, a three hander set in Ireland which moves between naturalistic and ritualistic delivery.

Best of the Fest audience appreciation award
A Mystery Tour by Colin Calvert performed by St Serfs Players (Bangholm) at last year's festival

A Mystery Tour by Colin Calvert performed by St Serfs Players (Bangholm) at last year’s festival

Leitheatre’s second offering is another old one, Charles Emery’s A Private Affair written in 1958. This six-handed comedy concerns a misunderstanding surrounding an old man with a pile of liquor bottles in a hotel bedroom. The St Serf’s Players second production is A Scent of Honeysuckle, by Jean Lennox Toddie, a three-hander about the ties between mothers and their daughters.

A pair of modern two-handers round off the entries. The Mercators have Jean McConnell’s comedy Cupboard Love and the Makars perform Colin and Mary Crowther’s wistful, enigmatic Just Passing.

Each heat is judged by an independent adjudicator. This year Lynn Bains is taking on the role for th first time. A co-founder of Stella Quines, Bains started the performing arts course at Kirkcaldy College of Technology (now Adam Smith College) and was Head of Acting at Queen Margaret University College from 1990 to 2005.

Trophies will be awarded for the top three productions, overall, as well as for best stage presentation, best production values, an award for “Scottish life and character” and an award for “best moment of theatre”.

The Edinburgh District heats also hold a Best of the Fest audience appreciation award, in which season ticket holders for all three nights are eligible to vote for their favourite production.

The top three teams will represent Edinburgh at the Eastern Divisional Final to be held 21st to 23rd March at The Dobbie Hall, Larbert. The winner and runner up from the Divisional Final will represent the Eastern division of the SCDA at the Scottish final to be held 18th to 20th April at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

SCDA One Act Festival: Thurs 14-Sat 16 Feb 2013, 7pm
St Serf’s Hall, Clark Road, Goldenacre
Tickets £8 (£21 season ticket) from the SCDA Edinburgh website on:


Thursday 14th February

1.  Leitheatre (Kirkgate):
Still Life by Noel Coward directed by Don Arnott
With: Jennie Davidson, Liza Shackleton, Kirsty Wilson, Martin Dick, Matt Mason, Pat Hymers, David Rennie, Charles Jones, Moira Macdonald, Rosalind Becroft, Clem Allan & Don Arnott.

2. Edinburgh Peoples Theatre
Ritual For Dolls by George MacEwan Green; directed by Will MacIvor
With: Lynn Cameron, Mike Keenan and Kyle Sutherland

3. The Mercator’s
Cupboard Love by Jean McConnell; directed by Jim Witcomb
With: Rosemary Currie and Susan Wales

Friday 15th February

4. The Edinburgh Makars
Just Passing by Colin & Mary Crowther; director: Sheila Clarke
With: Gavin Bolus, Joyce Wood and Adam Cook

5. St Serf’s Players (Afton)
A Scent Of Honeysuckle by Jean Lennox Toddie; Director: Phyllis Ross
With: Dorsay Larnach, Alison Carcas and Wendy Barratt

6. Leitheatre (Sunnyside)
A Private Affair by Charles Emery; director: Clem Allan
With: Moira Macdonald, Ellie Arcidiaco, Maya Marshall, Rosalind Becroft, Andy Harris, David Rennie and Don Arnott

Saturday 16th February

7. Livingston Players
Donahue Sisters by Geraldine Aron, director: Ronnie Barnes
With Sammy Jo Dodds, Annie Townsend and Kate Halliday

8. St Serfs Players (Bangholm)
You Really Got Me by Neil Robertson; director: Colin Stirling-Whyte
With: Alistair Brown, Rona Arnott, Margaret Anderson, Norman Anderson, Derek Ward, Philip Wilson, Fredericka McKinstrie, Hollie Brown and Charlie West




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