STAFF AND NONSENSE

Programme (courtesy of Chris Meakin) + Magazine review + Photos (courtesy of David Cook)


STAFF AND NONSENSE

ITEMS

Overture

1. Let's Ignore It.

2. French as She is Learnt or 0 La La !

3. Dancing Years : a choreographical cavalcade.

4. Sport : England v. France (The recorded broadcast of Wednesday, October !4th, 1066).

5. Bicycling : the audience is taken for a ride.

6. We Haven't a Room for To-night.

7. Coup de Grace-hopper : a musical romp.

8. International Gallery : new light on the old masters.

9. Guest Artiste : Ada Stark (contralto).

INTERMISSION

(During the interval coffee and ices will be served in the Dining Hall)

10. Borgia Orgy.

11. Homecoming : a naughtical sketch.

12. Sitting Pretty : Chairman's remarks.

13. Quid Pro Quo or The Shooting Party : a little foul play in one act.

14. Interlude for Commercial.

15. The Yearly Round : an epic drama of the seasons, in four acts.

16. Diorama : keyhole on the world.

17. The Orator.

18. Down with ... .

French as She Is Learnt, written by E. F. Watling, is performed by permission of Samuel French, Ltd.

The cast wish to thank the many masters and boys who, though they are not appearing upon the stage, have done much to make this venture possible.


FORTHCOMING ATTRACTION

A New Rank Arthur Production
(on thin ice)

K.E.S. M E T
or
A STRANGER IN PARADISE SQUARE

(This drama is hermetically sealed and unfit for babies).

CHARACTERS

(Any resemblance to persons alive, dead or at King Edward VII School is purely intentional)

Sir Wylie Bird

A seedy baronet, late of the Diplomatic Service.

Lady Bird

A wife, late of the Strand Corner House Self Service.

Little Knell

Their fledgling daughter, a cockney belle in search of a beau

Turbo-Inis f.

A Latin gladiator in decline

in
love
with
Knell

JO

Keeper of the Key

Wee Georgle

A philatelic Scottish philanderer

Long John Silver

An Irish Jester

Haydn Sieck

An unscrupulous German gamester

Sir Guy

A crafty knight, keen to show his metal

Twai fford

An immense Welshman, recently expelled from the British Museum

Keble

A Gothic wreck

The Five Burghers of Venice ...

Musical glass-blowers

Sonya and Yettsovar

Russian tumblers


Chorus of Archdukes, performing seals, organ-grinders,
members of the Constantinople Ladies' Knitting Guild, etc.
Accidental music executed by Hill Billy and his Buchaneers.

SYNOPSIS OF SCENES

Act I
The same, three years later

ACT II
The same, three years earlier


WARNING

The management wish to impress upon patrons that they are admitted at their own risk.

As the play is to be deformed in two acts, each lasting not more than three years, the audience is kindly requested to refrain from applauding during the first six weeks.

There may be an interval during which hot air will be circulated by trained attendants and jugs of hot water will be served in the Baths. Patrons may eat their own sandwiches but marmalade must not be consumed on the premises.

In the Interests of Hygiene and the comfort of patrons, no dogs allowed except on a leash.

ARGUMENT

Beneath the cold, sombre facade of Sir Wylie Bird, Bart., there beat the heart. A genius of rare enterprise, he planned a work beyond the wildest dreams of the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company, an achievement beside which the satellites, the Hydrogen Bomb and the Greystones bus route would seem mere ... or even less. His idea ... to extend the Manchester Ship Canal to New York via the North Pole. Following Sir Wylie's mysterious disappearance down a drain during the Bath Festival, the plans are discovered in a static water tank near the Elephant and Castle by a penniless Welsh bookmaker. How the latter overcame the scorn of scientists, the suspicion of Governments, and objections from such varied quarters as the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Indian Army Officers' Croquet Club, Mrs. Pankhurst, etc ... this epic story forms part if not all.

(This saga contains no added preservative or colouring matter).

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Perambulators by Self Drive Hire

Wigs canvassed by Tories

Lights by Butcher

Period furniture and other treasures removed from Chatsworth

The Manchester Ship Canal appears by kind permission


KES MAGAZINE 1958 - Photos and captions provided in 2003 by David Cook

Down With . . .

Staff and Nonsense - A REVUE.

11th-14th DECEMBER 1957

IT is the cherished ambition of all schoolboys to be in a position to poke fun at their masters without running the risk of sudden retribution. An even happier and safer circumstance is for them to witness the masters making play on their own eccentricities and failings. At the beginning of the Autumn Term several of the younger members of the Staff began to observe very carefully the peculiarities and mannerisms of their more eccentric colleagues, and as the information accumulated it was incorporated into a number of items. The final result proved to be remarkably original and true to life, and, so it seemed, highly amusing to boys, parents, and most of all to the Staff. Indeed, the nature and variety of the material and the standard of presentation was such that it would be difficult to imagine how anybody connected with the School could fail to be amused.

The Staff Common Room in the time of Shakespeare.
Mr. B.C. Arthur challenges "Shorty" Burns (not in picture) to a duel.
"Fred" Hetherington in the background with Shorty's report

Probably the most significant aspect of the enterprise was the remarkable team spirit which prevailed among Staff and boys taking part. Although the principal parts were played by members of the Staff, the efforts of boys, both on and off the stage, were indispensable.  Another result of this revue was the revelation of hitherto hidden talent within the School, and it is to be hoped that another similar show will be arranged in the future.

G.M.

Fred and Mr. Arthur play "Shove - Ducat". Mr. Hersee interrupts

Our Critic in the Stalls writes:

Two factors can make a revue of this nature successful: speed of presentation, and a constant pruning of material to the very limit. In this way, the audience is so overwhelmed by the number and rapidity of the sketches that it is not allowed to reflect on the ridiculousness of the situations presented. On these grounds I cannot call Staff and Nonsense an unqualified success. The Staff-room sketch involved unduly long intervals for changes of clothing, since every member appeared in all three scenes.  Good use, however, was made of rninor interruptions from a variety of characters to divert attention from the lapse of time between items, and the indefatigable compere, Mr. May, earned our sympathy by his patient suffering of all that the School could  (literally) throw at him. His skit on commercial television was most exhausting -yet he was always immaculate, smiling and courteous.  Mr. Johnston was omnipresent, and Messrs. Burns and Hetherington made valuable contributions, though the latter's "Coup de Grace-Hopper" item could have done with more editing than it received. The nautical sketch also seemed over-long, the reactions of the two old ladies being exactly the same to every interruption by the loud-speaker.

The Russian Common Room. Mr. Hersee, Fred Hetherington, Mr. Arthur and barely
visible back right, Shorty Burns (head above the table), imbibing Vodka
through a suction pipe if I remember rightly.

What the Revue will principally be remembered for is its discovery of unsuspected talent among the Staff. Mr. Robinson showed himself a confident singer, while Mr. Wastnedge, tapping his feet and snapping his fingers, could easily develop into a second Fred Astaire. Pride of place must go to "Miss Ada Stark (contralto)" - Mr. Arculus looked ravishing and sang with a power that would have been a credit to any prima donna. Another good item was " French As She Is Learnt," though its subtleties seemed to be lost on the majority of the audience.             

Music played a large part in the programme, and with notable success in the "Shooting Party" (or Quid Pro Quo) of Messrs. Watling, Hersee, and Vernon, which was written with great ingenuity and sung with obvious enjoyment. The amusing words of the conspirators in the "Borgia Orgy" gave Sara an opportunity to use his expressive eyes to good effect. [See * below.]

In the discursive printed programme one could not help noticing a resemblance to the Radio Times synopsis of a certain weekly feature-a brand of humour very much in vogue.  Throughout the entertainment there was perhaps a rather large proportion of material unintelligible to strangers. The lighting experts provided a wide range of effects, and the stage was adapted perfectly to the needs of a performance of this kind. Our thanks are due to all who worked so hard to produce the show, which we sincerely hope will become an annual feature of the School year.

                                                                                                M. B. H.

The American Common Room - A "Sesh" - Come on it was 1957!

Peter Arculus as "Ada Stark" - contralto. Dr. W.E.Wightman at the piano.

"Marcus" Watling and E.L.Vernon. Sketch entitled Quid Pro Quo, or "The Shooting Party"

The Coup de Grace-Hopper (Fred Hetherington).
The "Gorilla" Skiffle Group in the background - it was 1957!

Shorty Burns - Scottish Sword Dance (can't remember the context).
R.J.Thompson 4(1) on harpsichord.

* David Cook adds:

The "Borgia Orgy" is a song with lyrics by John Jowett and music by Robert Gordon sung by Hermione Gingold, originally performed in SWEET AND LOW (1943) by Hermione, Walter Crisham, Ilena Sylva and Bonar Colleano and then carried over into SWEETER AND LOWER (1944).

According to Alan Melville, in his autobiography, MERELY MELVILLE, this number consisted of four members of the Borgia family anticipating with relish the dinner-party they were throwing that evening. I suspect that the parody elements Hermione referred to were in the costumes and makeup; the lyrics alone, as performed by Hermione, are sufficiently witty without having to appreciate that some long gone stars were being parodied. (http://users.bestweb.net/~foosie/almanac.htm)

The Borgias are having an orgy;
There's a Borgia orgy tonight,
And isn't it sickening
We've run out of strychnine;
The gravy will have to have ground glass for thickening.

The poison Chianti is terribly scanty
But everything else is all right.
There's ars'nic mixed in the mock turtle soup.
I've hidden an asp in the iced cantaloupe,
And straight Benzedrine in the apricot coupe
At the Borgia orgy tonight.

Our guests are exclusively chosen
From people who give us a pain.
The creme of the joke is the knowledge
That they won't come here again.

We'll all be most frightfully hearty
At the Borgia orgy tonight.
For the Duke's eldest son
There's a monstrous cream bun
Soaked in hot prussic acid;
It's all good clean fun.

The tank in the ladies will blow them to Hades
If anyone turns on the light.
The bodies will fall through a trap door below
To the Tiber and drift out to sea on the flow.
We think we can promise a jolly good show
At the Borgia orgy tonight.

We revel in giving a party,
A fete or a fancy dress ball.
There's always a nice game of bingo
And a good time had by all.

The Borgias are giving an orgy;
There's a Borgia orgy tonight.
I've poison ptomaine that will wrack them with pain.
We've nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

We're pushing some people
We know off a steeple;
It should be a wonderful sight.
We've bricked up some cousins of ours in a wall;
Their agonized cries won't disturb us at all
As we sit here sipping our wormwood and gall --
(It's delicious!)
At the Borgia orgy tonight.

We've got all the nobles of Naples
For the Borgia orgy tonight.
The soup minestrone is frightfully phony,
And laudanum reeks in the stewed macaroni.
We're feeling no pain when they eat the henbane
In the third tangerine from the right.

When the butler flings open the dining room door
There's a cunning contraption concealed in the floor:
We wonder who'll sit on the circular saw
At the Borgia orgy tonight.