Actor/Writer Imogen Stubbs met DSL cast members who are putting on her play, We Happy Few as a graduating production at The Playground Theatre. It tells the story of a group of actresses who toured plays across Britain during the darkest days of World War Two.
We Happy Few, was inspired by the true story of the Osiris Players, who travelled thousands of miles in two Rolls Royces whilst being “constantly hungry and sleeping anywhere.”
One of their audience members was allegedly a young Judi Dench.
Stubbs, whose theatre experience includes leading roles at the RSC and The National, as well numerous film and TV credits, said the play, "wasn’t dominated by lead parts, and couldn’t work without all its characters. The thrill of it is when you all work together. You become a kind of family. "
We Happy Few is being directed by actor and award-winning playwright Jonathan Guy Lewis (known for his roles in ITV’s Soldier Soldier and London’s Burning as well as Coronation Street).
The play is being performed on June 16,17, and 18 at The Playground Theatre, in Latimer Road, where, according to Stubbs, the thrust stage will make the performance “really intimate”.
The real-life players performed in any location they could – from schools to billiard halls – sometimes in remote communities where people had never seen theatre before, and they even travelled by horse and cart and canoe at times.
Stubbs said she had initially considered writing a novel about the troupe as her research uncovered so much detail, some of which she had to leave out of the play. She said: “They were constantly hungry and slept anywhere. Everyone had to be able to act and learn hundreds of parts. They were incredibly enterprising, and made the most amazing costumes with very little money. They used sanitary towels for beards. It was so eccentric what they were doing.”
She added: “It may have seemed so trite to be trying to keep culture alive when war was going on - but if we don’t, what are we as human beings – if we’re just destructive, not creative?”
The play was first performed at Malvern Theatre and moved to the London’s West End at the Gielgud Theatre in 2004.
Tickets for the students’ graduation production are free and can be booked here
Written by Dave Speck