New Season Launch – 2024/25

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SEASON SPONSORED BY


SEPTEMBER
Betrayal by Harold Pinter
Directed by Matt Gray
Cast: 2m / 1f

OCTOBER
Brimstone & Treacle by Dennis Potter
Directed by Emma Northcott in the Studio
Cast: 2m / 2f

DECEMBER
Sleeping Beauty
Written & Directed by Richard and Dee Lovelock
Cast: Large ensemble cast

JANUARY
Beautiful Things by Jonathan Harvey
Directed by Allie Marie Hunter in the Studio
Cast: 3m / 2f

MARCH
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Simon Stephens
Direct by Keith Swainston
Cast: 4m / 5f plus 15 year old protagonist

APRIL
Blackbird by David Harrower
Directed by Amy Walker in the Studio
Cast: 1m / 1f

MAY
Blackadder Goes Forth by Ben Elton & Richard Curtis
Directed by Sally Hull
Cast: 6m / 2f

JUNE
Side by Side by Sondheim
Directed by Julia Fraser in the Studio
Cast: 1m / 2f minimum

JULY
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Directed by Charles Plester
Cast: 11+ ensemble cast

Audition details for the first few shows will be online soon and tickets for Sleeping Beauty go on sale in May

The QMT 40th Year Gala

Gala Committee (L-R): Andrew Piggott, Elliott Bunker, Matt Gray, Claudia O’Connell (Chair), Amy Walker & Amanda Campbell Phillips

Our 40th Year Gala committee hope you had a great evening celebrating on Saturday 8th July.

Here are some fabulous photos from the evening taken by Chris Wright

GALA CELEBRATION PHOTO ALBUM

Here also, is a copy of the speech made by the Chairman of The Bancroft Players & The QMT, Elliott Bunker.

Firstly, I am so thrilled to be able to welcome you all here for such a significant milestone in the history of our society and theatre. It’s amazing to think that The Queen Mother theatre has been at the heart of the local arts scene for 4 decades and is still the only purpose-built public theatre in Hitchin. In 2025 The Bancroft Players will be 80 years old, and I cannot wait for the celebrations that that will bring.

I am also pleased to welcome so many members and guests tonight who were involved in the building of the theatre all that time ago and many of the subsequent changes we’ve seen since then; specifically, Richard & Wendy Whitmore, Christopher Mann, John Simmons, Les Edwards, Frank and Edith Pratt, Chris Lane and Brian and Sally Hull. But also, to those members who were so influential, that are no longer with us, but will never be forgotten like John Coxall and Roger Hawkins.

The life of The Queen Mother Theatre in fact started almost a decade before 1983, when Richard wrote to the Council enquiring about the possibility of building a theatre here at Woodside. Many conversations later, which even included ideas about the refurbishing of St Anne’s Hall, where The Bancroft Players rehearsed and performed for over 28 years, or an old coach house at the end of the car park, were toyed with but ultimately rejected, plus several attempts in the mid-70s to raise any funds needed. But following the conversion of The Bancroft Players into a registered charity and the formation of a partnership with Hunting Gate, John Willmott and Daniels Bros, the initiative was officially born. An appeal to raise £80,000 was launched and the work began on 4th May 1982. By August of that year the walls were up and by September the roof trusses were in place. At this point over 200 people attended a special ceremony where the foundation stone was laid, which you can see on the front wall of the theatre. In the February of 1983 there was a topping out ceremony and the appeal had managed to raise £72,000 of the needed funds, but the outstanding amount to complete the project remained elusive – until an anonymous guardian angel donated £20,000 to the funds and the final phases kicked off at a pace. And on the 9th of July 1983, (40 years ago tomorrow) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother performed the official opening ceremony.

Since then, the theatre has gone through many a transformation – including the addition of a studio rehearsal space in 1985, a new foyer extension in 1997. In 2004 the studio rehearsal space was converted to a Studio Theatre, with more improvements made between 2008 and 2011 as part of the Youth Wing appeal, which saw a new workshop, new rehearsal room, extra space given to the studio, including a new bar and foyer.

And the work doesn’t stop. Even now, following some of the harshest years for many smaller regional theatres with the COVID pandemic having such a massive impact, we have been very fortunate to start yet another phase of improvements to our wonderful theatre. Over the last month the bar and foyer has completed phase 1 of a refurbishment project, which has seen it completely redecorated, with new seating and carpet. With future phases including a brand-new bar, improved exterior, updated signage, and even the possibility of some large windows to open us up even further to the passing traffic and potential audiences. I would like to say a massive thank you to Andrew Piggott, who has project managed this work with the contractors and kept them to very tight deadline between the end of our production of Company and tonight.

None of this work would have been possible if it wasn’t for the amazing members and volunteers that continue to give their time and skills to help run our theatre, and while in recent years those numbers have diminished, the dedication from those remaining has been nothing short of inspirational.

And so, to tonight and the future of The QMT. I want to say a massive thank you to the Gala Committee, who have made this evening such a memorable event – Special thanks to Claudia O’Connell, who has chaired the committee – please can I ask those people to stand up and for us all to give them a huge round of applause.

The future for The QMT is in a very secure place. Things are changing, evolving and a new generation of Bancroft Players are stepping in to carry on the hard work of the generations of Bancroft Players before us. I look forward to being part of, and celebrating all the future milestones and events and I am very proud to be the Chairman of such an amazing society and theatre.

Thank you.

Elliott Bunker – Chairman

Dick Whittington – A Family Affair


The Queen Mother Theatre has been the home for The Bancroft Players for almost 40 years and over that time many family members have trodden the boards in almost 300 productions.

This years Christmas pantomime, Dick Whittington has taken the family connection to a whole new level, with no fewer than 21 members of the cast and crew having a family connection in one way or another.

The family groups from the cast of Dick Whittington at The QMT this December

[Back row L-R: Richard, Dee, Charlotte, Emma, Jesica, Sarah, Emily, Melody, Leanne, Matt]
[Front row L-R: Elliott, Callum, Evie, Kelly, Ava, Tash, Amy, Zara, Craig]

Starting with the husband and wife writing and directing team, Richard and Dee Locklock, plus one of their children, Charlotte. The choreographer, Sarah and her two children, Jessica and Emily, to the title character of Dick Whittington himself (or should that be herself), Leanne and her daughter Melody, plus a whole host of others making this years Panto a real family affair!

A truly family Panto, with a family cast, waiting to perform for a family audience. Opening night is only a couple of weeks away on Friday the 9th December, running through to Saturday 17th December. Tickets are available from qmt.org.uk

This is a real reflection of the role of The QMT in the local community too. Since our doors opened in 1983, The QMT has always welcomed all generations. It’s not only the home of The Bancroft Players, which inspires hundreds of members every year through the Bancroft Juniors (aged 8-13), Big Spirit Youth Theatre and Ensemble (aged 14-20) and The Bancroft Players adult group, where the oldest active member is now in their 90s, we also have other local community groups use the facilities every week, including; the StageTots, run by Katie Milward which is a dance and movement group for toddlers. Both the Bancroft Juniors and StageTots have needed to expand their offering recently and now both operate two sessions each week.

Remember to book your tickets to our wonderful, family-friendly pantomime – it’s a real treat for the whole family, quite literally!

In The Director’s Chair – Violet Morris

On the day I met Violet for the interview about Eigengrau, the next studio production she is directing, she had just found out that she has got into Bristol Old Vic drama school and she was buzzing with excitement and battling with who she needed to share the news with first. I felt rather over-whelmed and emotional hearing her news and a strange feeling of pride, especially as it was the first time we had properly met, but I could tell how much the news meant to Violet, as it does with many of her peers in Big Spirit who work so hard to get the places in colleges and universities they so richly deserve.

Jordan & Will having a Titanic moment in the rehearsal room

However, we soon settle into talking about her current venture and directorial debut; Eigengrau. I start by asking Violet to tell me about the play as the title doesn’t give much away to a prospective audience member. Violet herself doesn’t giving too much away either as she tells me that the play is quite difficult to explain as it contains so many unexpected elements, but basically it’s about four people in their mid twenties, living in London, it challenges some modern feminist ideals, touches on sexual assault and grief, but overall and despite all those themes it is a very witty and fiery play and written in a very fresh and modern way.

Violet specifically chose this play as it doesn’t have a regular linear story line, with audiences expected to feel a certain way by the end. It’s much more a piece of theatre that audiences will watch and spark conversation, with them asking each other “What did you think about just happened?” and trigger debate about the rights and wrongs of the characters and their actions. Violet tells me that the debate is just as lively in the rehearsal room, with the cast often breaking off from blocking scenes to talk about the confrontation that’s happening, the subjects that are being covered, or the things that are being done by the characters. Specifically, the cast have spoken about the toxic parts of some media outlets infiltrating the lives of everyday people and the impact that has on them. The perceptions coming from the media on how people, specifically women should look, behave and act in society.

Getting to know you – teeth brushing exercise

The plays tackles a few difficult subject matters and this has often been challenging in the rehearsal room, but Violet seems to have a few tricks up her sleeve to put her cast at rest, help them bond and to break down the social barriers – one of these is getting the cast to brush each others teeth, yes that’s right, she got them to brush each others teeth – see the pictures if you don’t believe me! Violet tells me this has been a great way for the cast to get to know each other and break down the boundaries as there are a few intimate scenes and some of the cast didn’t know each other.

As a new director Violet says that she has learnt a huge amount while directing this show and seen many things that she didn’t know happened from when she was just an actor in one of the productions. She’s heavily involved in many of the production aspects and amazingly things like the set don’t just appear the week before opening night, but she heartily sings the praises of Richard Wright, her stage manager, who sounds like he is her knight in shining armour bringing many aspects of props and set together and helping get everything ready for curtain up! Also Violet has had to adapt her directing style as she is used to working with children in the foundation group, Ensemble, but working with adults is very different and you have to be able to flex depending on who you are working with.

Some of the cast chilling on the sofa during rehearsals

Finally, I asked Violet what she would say to convince someone to come a see the play… “It’s probably nothing like anything you’ve seen before, it has a super-talented cast and you will definitely go away with something to think about

Eigengrau opens on Tuesday 14th June – with free drinks and runs to Saturday 18th June

Eigengrau/ [ay-gen-gr-ow]/ noun. Intrinsic light; the colour seen by the eye in perfect darkness.

Feminist activist Cassie is engaged in a fervent struggle against patriarchal oppression. Her new flatmate Rose believes in true love and leprechauns. Across London, Mark believes in the power of marketing. His flatmate Tim Muffin is engaged in a fervent struggle just to get out of bed. Mark goes home with Rose and meets Cassie.

When circumstance throws them together, all four have their beliefs tested to devastating effect in a biting black comedy about trying to connect in a city where Gumtree can sometimes feel like your closest friend.