Flare Path funded by Harold & Pegs French Award

The Society’s Harold & Pegs French Award is aimed at bringing Rattigan’s work to a younger generation of actors and production staff by making a financial award each year to a drama schools mounting a Rattigan play.

If proof were needed that the idea was a great one it came in the first award recipient Royal Central School’s version of Flare Path which had a successful run at the Embassy Theatre in Swiss Cottage recently.

Not only were the production’s costs part funded; the society also produced a special booklet giving biographical details and articles about Terence Rattigan’s RAF career and linked writing which was given free to every audience member at each performance. Technical advice was given by our Secretary Group Captain Clive Montellier.

Over forty five society members attended a special Gala Afternoon celebrating the event which included a buffet lunch and a question and answer session mounted for members of the Society after the Saturday matinee.

Directed by Lindsay Posner the young cast gave a superlative performance of this wartime play made even more poignant by the fact that they were around the same age as the aircrew and families portrayed.

And in it was clear from the post-show Q&A that the whole process had been a profound learning experience for everyone both sides of the curtain.

In particular the cast stressed the continuing relevance of what might to some eyes seem a period piece while expressing delight at the sheer actability of the script.

This was another in the series of regular Rattigan linked functions Society members can enjoy. While those who could not attend on the day will read a full account and review of the production in the next quarterly newsletter The Rattigan Version.

If you’re not a member why not join us? The annual subscription is modest, the benefits enjoyable and you’ll also have the knowledge that you’re part of a growing body of people aiming to put perhaps the UK’s greatest twentieth century playwright back where he belongs. At the heart of things.

The Terence Rattigan SocietySir Terence Rattigan

President: David Suchet, CBE.
Vice Presidents
:  Michael Darlow, The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, DL, Dr Holly Hill, Greta Scacchi, Geoffrey Wansell
Chairman:  Barbara Longford

The Terence Rattigan Society was founded in Sir Terence Rattigan’s centenary year, 2011,  to celebrate, enjoy and study the work and life of one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest playwrights.  A prolific and successful author of plays and film scripts,  Terence Rattigan’s most celebrated works include ‘French Without Tears’, ‘The Winslow Boy’, ‘The Browning Version’, ‘The Deep Blue Sea’, and ‘Separate Tables’.

BENEFITS of membership include:

A regular printed copy of the dedicated magazine, with articles by leading playwrights, biographers and critics, as well as theatre listings and news and views.

Visits to the leading drama schools for Rattigan productions, by talented young students.

Masterclasses for students both young and mature, arranged in cooperation with the drama schools.

Theatre visits at discount prices, with optional suppers and an opportunity to meet like-minded people.  Discussions with cast members and directors.

Opportunities to visit Rattigan’s home at Albany and his birthplace in Cornwall Gardens.

Events at The Garrick Club, courtesy of its historian, Geoffrey Wansell.

Opportunities to attend events at Rattigan’s former school, Harrow and to explore their Rattigan archive.

Opportunities to visit RAF sites with a Rattigan resonance, with film screenings and supper.

Walking tours of areas where Rattigan lived and worked.

The Society was founded in 2011 with the support and approval of The Sir Terence Rattigan Charitable Trust and also of his biographers, Michael Darlow and Geoffrey Wansell.

Latest News

Forthcoming productions

Last modified on 2018-08-07 17:51:01 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

In October the Bath Theatre Royal will give a rare opportunity to see two pre-eminent actors performing In Praise of Love in the intimate setting of the Ustinov Studio. Robert Lindsay & Tara Fitzgerald will star in Terence Rattigan’s last play, a perceptive and powerful drama about the concealed truths and veiled emotions in a marriage.

Sebastian and Lydia Crutwell live in a small flat in Islington. Sebastian, once a promising novelist, is now a cantankerous critic. Lydia, an Estonian refugee, has recently discovered she is seriously ill, news that she confides to a family, Mark, but not to Sebastian. Over the course of two evenings, a series of heart-breaking revelations changes the facade of Lydia and Sebastian’s relationship forever.

Deeply moving and filled with beautifully crafted dialogue, this compelling drama demonstrates Rattigan’s incomparable ability to define the British character.

The play will be directed by Jonathan Church who during his time as Artistic Director of the Chichester Festival Theatre proved himself to be a champion of Rattigan’s work mounting several productions and rehearsed readings in the anniversary year.

In Praise of Love runs from Wednesday 3rd October to Saturday 3rd November
Evening performances at 7.45pm, matinees (Wednesday & Saturday) at 2.30pm.
Press Night Monday 15th October at 7pm. Post Show Discussion on Thursday 25th October

In November the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama will be mounting Flare Path partly financed by the society’s Harold & Pegs French Award generously funded by Holly Hill.

Holly explained the purpose of the award and her delight at the forthcoming production:

Imagine full houses for Terence Rattigan’s plays in fifty, one hundred, hundreds of years from now. Happy thoughts, and a goal that the TRS can further right now by engaging young theatre professionals’ and playgoers’ enthusiasm and support for Rattigan’s work.

With this end in mind, I have committed a yearly sum to the Society. Our Committee brilliantly suggested that this could be used to support a production of a Rattigan play each year by a drama school.

And to develop the new programme, the Committee found the superbly qualified Professor Michael Gaunt. A theatre director; acting teacher; drama school principal; theatre historian and also Chairman of The Society for Theatre Research and a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Prof. Gaunt generously accepted the Committee’s invitation to join it as Drama Liaison Director. Michael has arranged for the Royal Central School of Drama (whose alumni include Olivier, Ashcroft, Dench, four Redgraves, Michael Grandage and relative youngsters Andrew Garfield and Kit Harrington) to stage Flare Path. TRS members are invited to the Saturday, 24 November performance.

When we were considering a name for this new venture, I thought of Harold and Pegs French. Harold French, as we all know, was the director of Rattigan’s first great success French without Tears, in 1936. Harold and his second wife Pegs were close friends and eventually caregiver-companions of Sir Terence, with him through his final illness and death. At the last, as Michael Darlow movingly wrote in his Rattigan biography: “…with Pegs French sitting beside him…He gave a slight smile and his head dropped on to her shoulder.”

I well remember the great kindness shown to me by Pegs French while I was working on my Ph.D dissertation A Critical Analysis of the Plays of Terence Rattigan. In the summer of 1975, Pegs, acting as Sir Terence’s personal assistant, welcomed me into his Albany chambers to work with his papers. I was allowed to take away, study and copy everything, including his juvenilia, the three versions of The Deep Blue Sea, his scrapbooks of press cuttings and countless other treasures now in the British Library. I was nervous all the time that my bedsit might burn down, or I’d be hit by a car and the papers I was carrying would scatter. What a priceless privilege I was given (and what a clever and kind way to keep a graduate student from being underfoot in Sir Terence’s home).

After Sir Terence’s death, I saw Harold and Pegs frequently in London. We had silly fun—Harold won the Snooker tournament at his club and wore the Snooker Champion shirt I had made for him; Pegs and I met for lunch and tea—once we were at the Ritz tearoom when all the guests were asked to go out into the garden because of a fire alarm upstairs. Several glasses of champagne later, I asked for the bill and we were told that there was none; the Ritz apologized for our inconvenience! We celebrated when I was named New York Theatre Correspondent for The Times in 1984; I was very grateful that they knew that the student to whom they were so nice was having a success.

So, for all that Harold and Pegs French meant to me and, more importantly, for all that they meant to Rattigan and Rattigan meant to them, I am thrilled that the TRS will have a component known as The French Fund—short for The Harold and Pegs French Memorial Fund. I hope that Society members will come to the 24 November performance of Flare Path at the Royal Central School of Drama to support a new generation of theatre artists performing the work of Terence Rattigan.

Forthcoming Society Events

Dates for your diary
Saturday 13 October 2018
The Society AGM and play-reading of one of the final short listed entries in the play competition, The Rattigan Affair by Lynda Strudwick.
Saturday 24 November 2018
Flare Path at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. This student production will be assisted by the first French Award, in honour of Harold and Pegs French and sponsored by Dr Holly Hill. A Society visit will be arranged, preceded by a buffet reception. Performance at 2.30pm.
Saturday 15 June 2019
The Browning Version and Red Peppers—a double bill directed for the Torbay Operatic and Dramatic Society by our Treasurer Andrew Kenyon.

Booking forms and information about these events will be sent direct to members

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