Were you part of Trevor Nunn’s Northgate Grammar School Hamlet cast?
PUBLISHED: 09:22 16 June 2016 | UPDATED: 09:22 16 June 2016
Were you part of a young Trevor Nunn’s Northgate Grammar School production of Hamlet in the late 1950s? If so Roger Ranson and the New Wolsey wants to hear from you.
He was just 13 when he got a part in what must’ve been one of Nunn’s first directorial efforts.
Taken with the stage after seeing Michael Redgrave’s The Aspern Papers in London, Mr Ranson can’t quite remember how he got involved in the show; performed at an art gallery in the town around 1958.
“Trevor would have been four or five years ahead of me, I was in the third year and he was 18 and about to leave for university in Cambridge. I went along to the auditions, I think at Tower Ramparts School, and got a small part. I can’t remember which. I certainly had a couple of walk-on parts and a speaking part but I can’t remember now,” he laughs.
“He said he advertised it in the local press and was amazed at the people all over the town who were keen to take part. Apparently it got a very good right up in the Evening Star and I think that was really the beginning of his career.”
Rehearsing first at the school and then, as curtain call loomed, a church hall in Norwich Road before the show’s three-night run two things particularly stick in his mind.
“There was a party after the last night of the show at a pub somewhere in the St Matthew’s area. Unfortunately I had my cycle pinched that night and never recovered it. More importantly, a year or two afterwards our English teacher Peter Hewett - a very inspirational man who saw in Trevor the talent which he’s become - organised a coach party to go to Cambridge and see one of his first productions there.”
Mr Ranson, who swapped the stage for a career first in journalism with the Eastern Daily Press and then PR and marketing, remembers the young Nunn being very extroverted.
“Very encouraging. I seem to remember he was always quite casually dressed, I think he wore sandals much of the time which was slightly odd but he was a lovely person.
“To think you’d want to tackle a production yourself at that age; to put on the most difficult of Shakespeare’s plays possibly... What a challenge. He had such enthusiasm and had his own ideas about how he would present certain parts, certain scenes.”
Mr Ranson is curious what’s become of his fellow cast-mates.
“I don’t know how many people are still about the town. Many people of course would’ve left I guess and gone to university but I still kept in East Anglia. I live now in south Norfolk so I’ve kept in touch and still support the local football club for better or worse,” he laughs. “The whole idea really is to see if there are other people who would’ve taken part and have some sort of reunion.”
The New Wolsey hopes if so it can be arranged while Nunn is directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream there from June 16-July 9. If you can help, contact the theatre by calling 01473 295900.