But Yesterday

by Jimmie Chinn

But Yesterday had 2 performances about 14 years ago (between the 10th of October 2008 and the 18th of October 2008) at Riverside Arts Centre

A haunting, lyrical and enigmatic play from the sensitive pen of Jimmie Chinn. Set in an English vicarage garden in the 1950s and before. Prior to leaving on a journey from which he will not return, Robert comes back to the garden of his childhood and relives moments from his past which become mingled with the present. Sound & lighting do much to evoke the atmosphere and we learn something of the sterile lives played out in the garden. Robert has been brought up in a tightly closed world of whispers and secrets. Just what is the truth concerning his parents and Ruth, who refuses to be called Aunt and takes a maternal interest in him?

By the end of the play it would seem that Robert has chosen another world of secrets. In breaking out of his claustrophobic upbringing he elects to betray everything that the quintessentially English garden represents. It seems that lies and deceit will permeate this place and bring unhappiness to all its occupants. Two men wait in the shadows to escort him to his new life leaving behind a hurt & bewildered family.

BACKGROUND There is a school of thought that this play is about the so called 5th Cambridge spy and maybe hypothesises about what bought about his recruitment. We know that in 1934 four young men at Cambridge University were recruited as spies. Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Kim Philby & Donald Maclean were fuelled by youthful enthusiasm, a passion for communism and a hatred of Hitler and Facism to begin a twenty year career of deceit & treachery. We also know that there were a number of other young men recruited at Cambridge besides these famous four – perhaps Robert was one of them?

CHRONOLOGY 1913 Born to ?? 1918 Ruth comes to stay at the vicarage 1923 10 years old sent away to school 1931 – 1934 attended Cambridge University 1934 Recruited as a spy 1936 Married 1940 Relocated to Washington in the British Embassy; leads a double life. Loses contact with his wife. 1950s Defected to Russia

This is a fascinating text and sub text to explore & develop. It requires playing with delicacy and affection with all the shifts in mood and undercurrents explored fully. A mood of deep, repressed feelings suffuse the air. Music, sound effects, atmospheric lighting and the all-important rambling vicarage garden should add much to the vital moods of the play.

The play is to be performed as part of the Woking Festival and the Spelthorne & Runnymede Festival in October 2008. Woking Friday 10th October, Spelthorne Saturday 18th October.

See WDF website for all festival details www.wokingdramafestival.org.uk and for phtographs of the awards and opening night party at Woking Festival see http://www.flickr.com/photos/ptmoore/sets/72157606780748945/


Robert - Mark Humble

Age 40s (and back to childhood). The narrator, who takes the audience on a lyrical journey. Sad, lost, bewildered, he has grown up listening to hushed voices behind closed doors. He tries to be like his "parents" and embrace religion but he never feels part of them. Strangely affected by Ruth’s presence and searching for answers he is driven and energised by the prospect of his new role.

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Howard - Colin Bailey

Age 30s to 60s. A country vicar, he has smothered every speck of feeling he ever had. In the fifties he decides to feign deafness and later go blind. He packed up and left the world long ago. Circumstances ‘cause’ him to invent a different existence. He never speaks of intimate things or worldly matters. Dried-up and dependent on Chloe.

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Chloe - Jane Walters

Age 30s to 60s. A vicar's wife. Life has been difficult for her. Long suffering, fussy, vulnerable and distracted until her final explosion of repressed rage. Her days of playing nursemaid to Howard are endless in their cloistered world where life passes them by and nothing touches them. She bickers endlessly with Ruth & engages in petty village gossip. In her house of secrets she needs Ruth & Howard but this is masked by a polite formality and general business.


Ruth - Frankie Godliman

Age 30s to 60s. Beautiful, sensual, sharp-edged, brittle, enigmatic, embittered and watchful. She has sadness in her eyes. Nothing is ever said but regret & recrimination hang in the air like a haunting piece of music. She is not allowed to care for Robert but puts him to bed etc and tells him a secret about his parents. She relies on her brother's charity for her livelihood but loathes Howard and Chloe and is resentful of the Woman.


The Woman - Anna Napolitano

Age 30s. A Cambridge graduate. Mysterious, edgy ,vulnerable, and tenderly in love with Robert. She is searching for him and for answers about his disappearance. Attractive and compelling, she has a presence and aura about her.

Two Men

Waiting to take Robert away. A brutal and brooding presence.

Two Men


Director - Judith Dolley


Stage Manager - Clare Pinnock

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Lighting - Bill Payne


Sound - Ian Santry


Set Design and Construction - John Godliman


Continuity - Pauline Walters

Winners Woking Festival - 2008
Technical Excellence Woking Festival - 2008
Best Backstage Management Woking Festival - 2008
Best Supporting Actress Frankie Godliman Woking Festival - 2008
Runners Up Spelthorne & Runnymede Festival - 2008
Stage Presentation Spelthorne & Runnymede Festival - 2008
Technical Merit Spelthorne & Runnymede Festival - 2008
Best Supporting Player Anna Napolitano Spelthorne & Runnymede Festival - 2008
Backstage Award Spelthorne & Runnymede Festival - 2008