Where are they now?

Where are they now?

Tom Prior

Tom Prior with DCPA

Played a street urchin in Fire from Heaven, Dorchester's 4th community play. Tom trained at RADA and is now a fully fledged actor. He recently appeared in Tory Boys at the National Youth Theatre. Tom is currently filming Matthew Vaughn's The Secret Service and James Marsh's Theory of Everything.

Kate McGregor

Kate McGregor with DCPA

Kate McGregor
Kate was the Assistant Director for Dorchester's 5th community play, A Time to Keep. This experience was a catalyst for her love of directing and she is now working as a professional theatre director in London.

Kate is Artistic Director at Theatre6, she was winner of the Noel Coward Trainee Director bursary 2012 at the Salisbury Playhouse and recently completed the National Theatre Studio Directors' course.
Her latest production, Mr Happiness and the Water Engine, in association with the Old Vic Theatre, was recently shortlisted by Time Out for Fringe Show of the Year and named number two in the 'Top 5 Shows to see in London'.

Her recent directing credits include: Silence in the Studio (Ustinov, Bath); The Ripple Effect (Richmond Theatre); Mr Happiness and the Water Engine (Old Vic Tunnels); The Devil's Grotto (Battersea Arts Centre); Script Slam! (Soho Theatre); Never Any Fruit (Pleasance Theatre, Islington & Rondo Theatre, Bath) and The Devil is an Ass and The Double (White Bear Theatre).

Kate is currently adapting and directing Bram Stoker's Dracula for a tour of London libraries, produced by Open Book Theatre. She is also the Learning and Development Officer at ATG's New Wimbledon Theatre and Studio.

Natalie Wakelin

Natalie Wakelin with DCPA

Natalie Wakelin
After the incredible experience of being part of Dorchester's 5th community play, A Time to Keep, I was left hugely inspired and more determined to follow my dream of becoming a professional actor.

In December 2007 Kate McGregor and I raised enough money to take our love of drama in the form of Shoebox Theatre to underprivileged children in Romania and Hungary where we performed and facilitated workshops.

In 2008 I was asked to write for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I penned The Poisoner's Tale and acted in this together with The White Rose. Both were well received, receiving four stars. My next play, The Dog Ate My Homework was selected for a showcase at The Jacksons Lane Theatre, North London.

After a period of time focusing on writing, I found I was missing acting enormously, and started looking for new projects. I auditioned and played parts in a number of short films. I was cast in my first feature film in 2011. After two years in the making, '4am' was premiered at Hackney Picturehouse in July this year.

By 2012, I had developed many new acting skills, but felt I lacked discipline in some areas so I auditioned for Rose Bruford College. I have just started my fourth term. I'm learning a lot about the business and how to market myself as well becoming a stronger and more versatile actor. It is incredibly challenging, but hugely rewarding.

I auditioned for Milk a play by Judy Upton in August and was offered the role of Megan. I have just finished a run at The Hen and Chickens Theatre in Islington.

Outside of training at Rose Bruford, I continue to write, and am working on two new plays. I have also been creating piano compositions.

Roan Doyle

Roan Doyle with DCPA

Roan Doyle
Back in 2007, in the days when I had an afro,I stumbled into the last DCPA production 'A Time to Keep' through the stage curtains of the Thomas Hardye School theatre - you might say I was in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Out of nowhere I was welcomed into the fold, and before I knew it, became responsible for the operation of lighting and sound equipment. This saw me working with an extremely laid back and knowledgeable designer called Stefan who set the foundations of my professional production experience.

I also had the opportunity to work closely with director Jon Oram and writers Stephanie Dale and David Edgar. Needless to say, after a few weeks of shows that went largely without hitch, I was hooked and sought to continue working on live productions wherever I could!

In the years that followed I worked on a variety of high profile theatre tours, music tours, festivals and even the odd TV broadcast with a range of top names.

In 2011 my life took an unexpected turn when I joined the emergency services - working with my colleagues to aid members of the public in their time of need. I still delve into the odd festival, tour and TV broadcast when I can and maintain my presence in the professional sound industry, known lovingly as 'The Monitor Guy'!

Here we are almost six years later, and a lot has changed (not least my much shorter hair!) but I look forward to returning to Dorset and being involved in the forthcoming production. I'm sure it will be as successful and exciting as the last!

If you're not already involved in Drummer Hodge, don't make the mistake of missing the opportunity to take part - it will be nothing short of a fantastic experience for all.


Rhiannon Morris

Rhiannon Morris  with DCPA

Rhiannon Morris
Aged nine Rhiannon performed the role of Rose Chubb as part of a one hundred strong cast in Dorchester's 4th community play Fire from Heaven by Rupert Creed.

From the age of ten to eighteen she was a member of WOW Youth Musical Theatre, taking part in productions such as Les Miserables, Pirates of Penzance and Fiddler on the Roof. WOW enabled Rhiannon to develop and gain confidence as a performer.

At both Dorchester Middle School and Thomas Hardye School she took part in numerous school productions including Bugsy Malone in which she played Tallulah and A Midsummer Night's Dream, when she played Helena.

Rhiannon is also a member of Doorway Theatre Company, a local semi-professional group with whom she played a significant role in The Kite, a play written specifically for the company by playwright Stephanie Dale, and performed at Bridport Arts Centre and Dorchester. More recently she played the part of Blue Girl in Sea Me, by Stephanie Dale, a forty minute audio play with characters devised by Doorway Theatre Company, recorded on location by Monty Funk Productions and directed by freelance BBC Radio Producer Peter Leslie Wild.

Rhiannon has been involved in some film work, taking part in a BBC 2 documentary on Thomas Hardy and playing Fancy Day in a short film for the National Trust now on show at Hardy's Cottage and Max Gate. She has also undertaken extra work for a BBC short film and in the Channel 4 series Skins.

Rhiannon completed a one year foundation course at LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) in 2014 and is now working in London's theatreland. 

Eleanor Lang

Eleanor Lang with DCPA

Eleanor Lang
Having been a member of the National Youth Theatre, Eleanor played the part of Grace in Fire from Heaven. She went on to study English at Cardiff University and became President of Act One, the university dramatic society, helping to run productions at the Edinburgh fringe two years running.

On leaving university Eleanor became an administrative assistant at London's Donmar Warehouse theatre, the general manager at Y Touring (a small touring theatre company bringing debate theatre to schools) and general manager at the Bush Theatre from where she was seconded to run a six week project at Battersea Arts Centre. She took part in the Old Vic New Voices programme and is now the Executive Director of Free Word a charity concerned with literacy, freedom of speech and literature.

Eleanor sits on the board of a number of theatre companies and is a governor of the Rose Bruford College.

Chris Addison

Chris Addison with DCPA

Chris Addison
CHRIS ADDISON  is now a professional actor under the name of Chris Gallarus was cast in the leading role of the Reverend John White in our fourth community play Fire from Heaven. As the following account by Chris explains this experience was literally life changing for him and his family.

Taking part in Dorchester’s Fourth Community play ‘Fire From Heaven’ was a life changing experience for my family and me. Our participation came as a result of wishing to do something as a family to bring us together, at the time of the auditions in October 2001 my wife Karen and I had just met and moved in together. I met Karen at the end of July 2001, whilst I was a single parent of 3 children. Karen moved in with us in September and after reading an article in the Dorset Evening Echo about the community play auditions we made a phone call to arrange an audition and thus began a journey that is still continuing.

 Although we both had an interest in theatre, our separate lives prior to our meeting had not really given us any real time or suitable setting to follow it up. The community play seemed to be the perfect moment to not only bond closer as a family due to its accessibility for all, but also to make new friends and enjoy once again the joy of theatre. Our expectations of the experience to come were soon surpassed. We had thought as newcomers to the community play that we would have difficulty fitting in, but we were soon made to feel welcome. Our children soon became closely involved in many aspects of the play; two of them having small roles in the production itself. Our eldest child, who has moderate learning difficulties and attention deficit disorder was not keen on acting but was very interested in the technical side, and the technical director allowed him to become his assistant and he was responsible for all the sound cues and effects during the performances themselves. Due to his shyness it was a pleasant surprise when he also became an unofficial assistant to the director Nina during rehearsals, as once I was off book he would stand by her side with my copy of the script, and she would only have to look down and he would have it on the correct page ready for her if she wished to look at it. For the boost it gave the children’s confidence the experience would have been worth it.

As for me, well, nothing has ever been quite the same. The night that we gathered as a cast for the first time to hear and see what roles we had been given is one that I will never forget. I can still remember sitting next to Karen and looking through the cast list for my name, and after going through it a couple of time saying to her ‘I can’t find my name, they haven’t given me a part, I thought they said everyone who wanted would get a part’. It was then that she pointed to my name at the top of the cast list next to the name of the Reverend John White, one of the principal characters. My reaction on then looking at the script is not one that can really be repeated. It was later when the rehearsal schedule was given out that we realised the full extent of the commitment we had just undertaken. However undaunted we vowed to continue and enjoy whatever was to come. The whole experience is one that we will never forget and know that it could never be repeated.

The longer term effects of that phone call are still being felt and the journey is by no means over. After the community play I wanted to continue acting and joined Dorchester Drama the local amateur dramatic group. Although I enjoyed performing with Dorchester Drama there still seemed to be something missing, and so after many long discussions with Karen and the children we came to perhaps another great and momentous decision. With the full support of my family I left my job as a laboratory technician at the local school to embark upon a degree course in Theatre and Performance at the University of Plymouth. The first two years of study took place at Weymouth College where I gained a Distinction in the Foundation Degree in Performance Practice. Although I was studying I was still able to live at home for these two years. However near the end of this time we had another decision to make. The result of this was that I had to move to Exmouth in order to complete the third and final year of a full degree in Theatre and Performance. Luckily thanks to the support of Karen, by this time we were married, and our children, I graduated in 2007 with a 2.1 BA (Hons) Degree in Theatre and Performance. Since graduating I have now become a full member of Equity and am listed on Spotlight and although life is not easy I am slowly beginning to build a career as a Professional Actor. It is true that an actor’s life is not easy but with support from my family and friends I am perhaps doing what a lot of people dream of which is to find something in
life that they enjoy and to hopefully at times get paid for doing it.

Without the experience of the community play there is no doubt in my mind that I would not be the person I am today or in the position that I am. I am blessed in that I have a fully supportive family and a network of friends ready and willing to help if needed.

Community plays change lives, some changes may seem small; they may just inspire confidence, which it did for our children, who now as adults are confident and able to make their own way in life, knowing that if you are determined there is nothing that you cannot achieve. The change in my life may seem major but again it is just a matter of confidence and belief, and embracing the chances that life gives you. Also it is a matter of having the courage to pursue a dream and the support to do it.

Both Karen and I would not change our decisions and feel that the community play experience is something that we will never forget and certainly one that we have never regretted. Indeed some of the people we met ten years ago are still firm friends today.

As I mentioned earlier I am now a full member of Equity and perform now as a professional as Chris Gallarus, also my spotlight number is 3415-6726-3818 should you wish to view my career so far. http://www.spotlight.com/3415-6726-3818
Chris Addison (Chris Gallarus)
August 2012

The Sansom Family


The Sansom Family
FRAN SANSOM who with husband Rob and daughter Maisie were members of the smuggling fraternity in the last community play while daughter Kitty cheered up her fellow prisoners; recounts the impact which the Dorchester Community Plays have had on her life and that of the whole family. Since the last play another member for a future cast has made her appearance.

The five Dorchester Community Plays have been part of my growing up and a part of our family life. My mother was involved from the start with roles in the plays and involvement in the trusts and committees bringing the plays to fruition; so I had an idea what a huge project a community play was from the outset, and the difference it could make to people's lives. In 1984 our first play was "Entertaining Strangers" and my brother and I were in the band. I became friendly with the lad playing my mother's son in the production. Twenty eight years, a wedding and three children later, and we are "friendlier" than ever.

Community Plays are greater than the sum of their parts. They are confidence enhancing, skill revealing, friendship forming, and life-changing events. Everyone has a place in them whatever skills you may have – and if you think you have none, then a Community play will show you otherwise. The opportunity to be involved at so many levels; fund raising, publicity, costume making and construction, and, of course acting and music, make you feel like you own this play in a way you never can with a regular production. As a family we have been involved in just about every aspect of the last five plays, at one time or another. And that's the best thing; we have done it as a family; first as a teenager with my mum and brother, then with my husband, and in 2008, as a family with our two small daughters.

The play was "A Time to Keep" and had a cast of over a hundred. The stages were many, large and made of scaffolding; the rehearsals often long with time spent just waiting, and there was a lot to learn. We had a fabulous time. Our daughters were then 7 and 4.

It may surprise you to know that Kitty, the elder, was not a smuggler with the three of us, but a prisoner, working with children and adults that she had not previously known; and she flourished. She felt safe and supported, said lines and sang a song, and blossomed among new friends. At only 7 she found a new confidence and new skills.

It may also surprise you to learn that Maisie has Downs Syndrome and, particularly at 4, had little sense of danger, scant regard for personal space, and liked to take centre stage. We never felt that she was anything less than totally accepted, and there was a great sense of protection and affection for her. If ever we lost track of her, someone else always knew where she was. When the older children played under the stage, they helped her join in. When she stood next to the director and helped to dramatically illustrate his direction, it was accepted with tolerance and remarkable good humour.

At a difficult time in our lives; my lovely Dad died as we were starting rehearsals, A Time to Keep gave Rob and me, our daughters and my mum, a positive focus, a wonderful experience, and some fabulous memories. Community plays are important. They are inclusive, empowering, and family friendly. What more could you ask for?
Fran & Rob Sansom
September 2012