Sidmouth playwrights pen script for Kennaway House opening

PUBLISHED: 18:11 20 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:29 18 June 2010

KEYBOARDS have been tapping furiously as three local playwrights produced scripts for the official opening of Kennaway House on Saturday, July 4.

KEYBOARDS have been tapping furiously as three local playwrights produced scripts for the official opening of Kennaway House on Saturday, July 4.

Shirley Nelson and Cecil and Christine Hardy, all stalwarts of Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society (SADS), were asked by the Friends of Kennaway House to write short dramas illustrating the rich history of the house.

They have produced three light-hearted 15-minute playlets and brought Sir John Henry Kennaway back to life as narrator.

The plays will be performed by members of local dramatic societies during the opening celebrations on 4 July - when Sir John, East Devon's first MP from 1870-1910, will be interviewed by a TV presenter.

The first play, Behind Every Good Man, gives a snapshot of life in 1861 when an elderly cleric lived there with four servants.

The second, Caught in the Storm, dwells on leaner times in 1891, when the building became a lodging house, and is about Sidmouth's fishing community.

The final episode is Life Class, about an adult art class today.

Research to ensure historical accuracy has revealed some fascinating local and national events linked to the house and these have been woven into the scripts.

Sidmouth Museum gave access to newspapers of the time.

"The plays are very funny and beautifully written," said Dr Michael James, Chairman of Kennaway House, who said rehearsals were going well.

"We are really grateful to SADS, and to the many other local groups who are coming together to join us in launching the house into its new life."

On July 4 the house and gardens will be open from 2.30 pm and the whole town is invited.

There will be music and dancing on the lawn, with cream teas, a children's corner and the Cellar Bar will be open.

MP Hugo Swire will open the house at 4.00 pm, after which there will be a hog roast and jazz band playing into the evening.

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