Leatherhead Drama Festival judges hail high quality of acts
THE ninth Leatherhead Drama Festival has been hailed as the "best yet" by organisers.
The two-week event has junior and senior weeks, where thespians compete to put on the best plays and performances.
Jan Palmer Sayer, a member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators and one of the festival's judges, said she was stunned by the quality of acts on show.
She said: "It was a wonderful fortnight. Quite apart from the very high standard achieved by all, the most impressive feature of the festival was the sheer numbers involved.
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"More than 150 young performers appeared on stage during the week of the junior section and this was a marvellous opportunity for them to perform, to learn from and to enjoy the whole festival experience.
"There was a terrific mixture of comedy, drama, ensemble and small group pieces, but there was plenty of new writing too and that gave a freshness to the whole festival."
At the Gala Awards Night on Saturday, the winning plays from the junior and senior weeks were performed again, starting with Peepshow by Woking College Drama Group.
This was followed by the senior winners, Runnymede Drama Group, and its absurd comedy An Incident At The Border.
Festival chairman David Brett said: "It was a good end to the festival, probably the best yet.
"They were two worthy winners and it was quite a complicated play for the junior winners; a complicated play superbly directed.
"The senior one was just sheer, unadulterated fun."
And Mr Brett said he was glad the festival went ahead at all after Mole Valley District Council withdrew funding earlier this year.
He said: "We had some very, very good friends who found the finance for us.
"We were very lucky this year with the difficulty we had, and we are now looking towards next year and how we will finance that."
The competition's patron Sir Michael Caine was unable to attend due to filming commitments, but sent a cardboard cut-out of himself as well as a message saying he hoped to attend the festival's tenth anniversary next year. High Sheriff of Surrey Karin Sehmer, who stood in for Sir Michael to hand out awards, said: "I thought both (winning plays) were absolutely stunning.
"I hadn't been to this festival before but I was really blown over."
Visit www.leatherheadramafestival.org for more information and photographs.