Encounter of a dramatic kind.
Posted by Frank Burns
Oh dear, serendipity once again interferes with life! We recently went with friends to a play in Oundle. The theatre was the Stahl Theatre, belonging to Oundle School, and the play in question was about to be staged for the very first time…… in other words a ‘world premiere’. The performers were to be from the drama department at the School, and the script writer was Ali Boag, a member of staff. The play was based on a novel written by Jonathan Gathorne Hardy called The Office (1970) which explored the ins and outs, ups and downs, of life in a typical office in 1950s England. Excellent entertainment and very well performed.
During the interval (as one does) I began chatting to the couple next to me, and after the usual exploratory questions of “where are you from, what do you do…..etc” I discovered they were from Norfolk and were here because they were friends of the scriptwriter. At that moment, the lights dimmed and the second half began. End of conversation.
At the end of the play, as the actors came back on stage to take the final bow, the final accolade was made to a member of the audience. One of the actors produced a spray of flowers and indicated to the gentleman sitting next to me to go down to the stage to receive the flowers and the accolade of the audience. As he descended to the stage, I asked his wife if he was Jonathan Gathorne Hardy, and of course, he was. I had, in fact, been sitting next to an author I have admired for
many years, but I hadn’t the time during the interval to ask him enough questions to determine his identity.
As we left the theatre, I shook his hand in congratulation, and told him how much I had recently enjoyed reading his biographical tome on the famous hispanist, Gerald Brenan, a writer whom we both admired very much. In fact, on a trip to the south of Spain a few years ago, Jenny and I had followed a ‘Brenan trail’ through the Alpujarras (southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada), where Brenan had lived most of his life, reading extracts from his book South from Granada as we went along.
Well, what can I say about such an encounter of a ‘dramatic kind’? These things simply won’t happen sitting at home watching TV…………….