Andorra, 23, 24 & 25 February 1978

I got involved with “proper drama” at Alleyn’s for a couple of productions.  Andorra by Max Frisch was the first of them, when I was just 15.  Here are my diary extracts.

The first block, from January, show no emotion at having got a decent part in a Bear Pit production:

“Friday 13 January 1978, Got a talking part in the school play – I’m the innkeeper – V pleased, 16 January 1978, should have rehearsed – cancelled, 17 January 1978, first Andorra rehearsal, 20 January 1978, rehearsed for Andorra, 23 January 1978, rehearsed for Andorra, 24 January 1978 Andorra rehearsal, 26 January 1978, rehearsed for Andorra, 27 January 1978, rehearsed for Andorra, 30 January 1978, rehearsed for Andorra, 31 January 1978, Andorra rehearsal.”

Two weeks in, by the start of February, I’m a critic as well as a performer.  Didn’t I know about hubris?  I was way overconfident anyway – “perfected” is not a term I would ever use now:

“Thursday 02 February 1978, rehearsed for Andorra – OK, 03 February 1978, rehearsed for Andorra – OK, 05 February 1978, first Sunday rehearsal for Andorra – not bad, 06 February 1978, rehearsed for Andorra, 07 February 1978, Andorra rehearsal – good, 09 February 1978, rehearsed for Andorra – good – seems to be OK, 10 February 1978, rehearsed in evening for Andorra, 12 February 1978 rehearsal for Andorra in afternoon – a good one, 13 February 1978, rehearsed for Andorra – not bad, 14 February 1978, scene 11 of Andorra perfected.”

Matters were bound to take a turn for the worse after that and so they did:

“Friday 15 February 1978, Dennis [Galvin] rushed to hospital last night with colitis – Mick Lemp [Michael Lempriere] has taken over, 16 February 1978, rehearsed for Andorra – not bad rehearsal but still looks poor, 17 February 1978, field day and rehearsal, 19 February 1978, rehearsal cancelled as Mick Lemp visits relatives in Exeter, 20 February 1978, Mick stuck in snowdrift, Dan [Shindler] in bed with flu, disaster for play, 21 February 1978, Rehearsed all day for Andorra – Mick & Dan & Den all absent, 22 February 1978, flop dress rehearsal this evening – does not look good.”

But the show had to go on:

“Thursday 23 February 1978, Yesterday’s flop dress rehearsal lead to an almost empty house [tonight] watching a great performance, 24 February 1978, 2nd night of Andorra – even better than last night – 3/4 house – enjoyed it, 25 February 1978, Last night of Andorra – 7/8 house – performance good – party afterwards – got drunk.”

With thanks to Mike Jones, who rescued a copy of the programme, here are scans of the pages:

Andorra CoverAndorra CastAndorra Bear Pit Production TeamAndorra PreambleAndorra Acknowledgements


Andorra Embarrassment Story, 24 February 1978

I’m pretty sure my parents came to see Andorra on the middle (Friday) night of the run.  And I’m fairly sure the following dialogue (or something like it) took place on the drive home after the show.


MUM: I wasn’t very impressed by some of your school chums in the audience behind us.

ME: What happened, Mum?

MUM: Well, during the interval one of them said to his pals, “I’m looking forward to the bit where Harris has to run around the stage yelling ‘I’m not a Jew, I’m not a Jew.”  Then they were giggling.  I wasn’t going to let that pass without comment.

ME: Oh, God, Mum, what did you say to them?

MUM: I turned around and asked them why that was so funny.  One of the boys explained, “because Harris is a Jew.  But he has to run around the stage saying “I’m, not a Jew”.  Then the boys giggled some more.

ME: …and then…

MUM: I said, “I’m well aware of all that.  I’m his mother and I’ve helped him to learn his lines.  I’m just trying to understand what makes it funny.”  They went very quiet after that.

ME: Oh, Mum.  I’m going to get mercilessly teased on Monday when I get back to school.  Or worse.  Why couldn’t you just let it go?

DAD: I knew it.  I could have told you he’d be upset.


To be fair on the poor boys involved (and I do wonder who they might have been – any confessions?) it was an ironic, rather funny matter.  Indeed, with the benefit of hindsight, my casting in the role of the Innkeeper might well have been based more on physiognomy than stagecraft.  In any case, we cast had all had a bit of a laugh about the irony of me yelling “I’m not a Jew” during rehearsals and I saw little malice in the remarks as reported by my mum.


But to be fair on my mum, although I did get some serious ribbing on the Monday (as recorded in my diary), it was not at all to do with my mother’s intervention.  Indeed the poor boys who got my mother’s tongue-lashing were probably more embarrassed than I was about that matter.  No, the ribbing I received resulted from reports of my drunkenness at the after show party on the Saturday.


As to the exact details of my ribbing-inducing party antics, I recall very little.  I do remember drinking far too much cheap party cider – a once-in-a-lifetime mistake (drinking cheap cider, not the occasional over-drinking).  I think the party was at Tiggy’s house, mostly in a rather large garage/out-house.  Or perhaps I am confusing the Andorra party with the 12th Night party.  Others who were a bit older (I was only 15-and-a-half) and a bit wiser (everyone else who was there) might recall the after show party better.


Still, it was a pretty cringe-making parental intervention.