The Drama Group of Monaco
The Drama Group of Monaco is a non profit making organisation based in Monaco dedicated to performing English language plays and musicals on the Cote d'Azur.
A brief history
The Monaco Drama Group has its origins as early as 1965, when founder-members Joan Hall and John Simpson started play-readings purely for the enjoyment of the readers themselves. Dues were one franc and readings, the first of which was Dear Octopus, were held in the old Hotel Metropole.
Soon many people were asking to attend and the first public reading was Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, the role of Lady Bracknell being played by Marie Burke, darling of the London stage and a local resident. It was a 'sell-out'!
In 1970, Joan Hall set about formalising the Group. Baroness Jeanne de Rothschild became the first president and other highly successful readings followed including The Constant Wife, Candida and The Chalk Garden in which the lead was taken by Harriette Johns - a Korda film discovery and leading lady on the West End stage.
The first stage production, the popular comedy Love's a Luxury, was in 1974 at the Salle des Variétés and the actors were honoured by the attendance of SAS Prince Rainier and SAS Princess Grace. Subsequent triumphs included When we are Married, The Cherry Orchard and Blithe Spirit.
Even wider fame came in 1981 when a BBC Television team produced a documentary on the activities of the British community in Monaco and an important part of that programme depicted the Drama Group's rehearsals and performance of The Heiress.
1976 saw a new format when John Bromley was brought from the London stage to produce two contemporary plays every spring and autumn and, eventually, a summer Shakespeare production.
In 1983, the Group moved into the newly-opened Princess Grace Theatre with Breath of Spring and continued to play there until 1993 when they moved their productions to the newly built Salle des Variétés. 1985 saw the first performance at Fort Antoine and 1986 at the old Chateau de Roquebrune - both breathtaking, spectacular venues for outdoor theatre. It was in 1985 too that the Principality offered the 'Green Room' in the Stade Louis II for rehearsals, workshops and play-readings.
In 1990, The Elephant Man was directed by one of the members, Pat Lo Verde, and received an outstandingly enthusiastic reception.
Then in 1991 the Group truly came of age with play direction in its own hands. In July, Dracula, directed by Ann Batt, was performed at Fort Antoine and at the Chateau de Roquebrune to a full house every night, and in November, Alan Ayckbourn's popular comedy How The Other Half Loves directed by Pat Lo Verde, was unquestionably a resounding contribution to a continuing string of theatrical achievements. Subsequently Roger Batt directed successful productions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Henry V at the Chateau in Roquebrune, while Anne Batt not only directed The Merchant of Venice and Blood Brothers there, but also wrote and directed her adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
In 1996, aided by generous sponsorship from the Baroness, the group dared to fulfil a long held wish and produce a traditional pantomime. Happily Aladdin, directed by Doreen Higginbottom (aka Anne Batt), was a great success and they have produced a Panto every year (apart from 2004) since. These events, produced and directed by Anne have become an essential part of the English Christmas on the Cote d’Azur.
The group also produced two costumed play readings in St Paul’s Church to benefit the Church’s roof fund and a number of lighter café theatre evenings in association with the British Association of Monaco.
|Chronological list of Plays||Director|
|1983||Breath of Spring||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1984||Day in the Death of Joe Egg||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1985||A Bedfull of Foreigners||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1985||Twelfth Night||Fort Antoine||JB|
|1986||The Chalk Garden||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1986||Midsummer Nights Dream||Fort Antoine & Roquebrune||JB|
|1987||The Killing of Sister George||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1987||Wisdom of Eve||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1988||As You Like It||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1988||Play On||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1989||Comedy of Errors||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1989||Night of 16 January||Théatre Princesse Grace||JB|
|1990||All’s Well That Ends Well||Fort Antoine & Roquebrune||JB|
|1990||Elephant Man||Théatre Princesse Grace||PlV|
|1991||Dracula||Fort Antoine & Roquebrune||AB|
|1991||How the Other half loves||Théatre Princesse Grace||PlV|
|1992||Arsenic & Old Lace||Théatre Princesse Grace||PlV|
|1993||The Foreigner||Salle des Variétés||JB|
|1994||Macbeth||Fort Antoine & Roquebrune||RB|
|1994||Run For Your Wife||Salle des Variétés||JB|
|1995||Talking Heads||Salle des Variétés||PlV|
|1995||The Merchant of Venice||Fort Antoine & Roquebrune||AB|
|1995||Evening of Wit, Humour & Comedy||Salle des Variétés||JB|
|1996||Dangerous Liasons||Salle des Variétés||RB|
|1996||Aladdin||Salle des Variétés||AB|
|1997||Cinderella||Salle des Variétés||AB|
|1998||Goldilocks and the 3 Bears||Salle des Variétés||AB|
|1999||Sinbad the Sailor||Salle des Variétés||AB|
|2000||Cinderella gets a fella||Salle des Variétés||AB|
|2001||Treasure Island||Salle des Variétés||AB|
|2002||Golden Haggis||Salle des Variétés||AB|
|2003||Bluebeard||Salle des Variétés||AB|
|2005||Snow White||Salle des Variétés||AB|
|…. and sometime there was Café Théatre ….|
|1998||Faustus||St Paul’s Church||RB|
|2000||A Man for all Seasons||St Paul’s Church||RB|
|2004||Feathers and Boas||Bistroquet||CMN|
|2005||An Evening with Panache||Café de Paris||CMN|