Edwina PearceA town isn’t a town without a bookshop. And the more so if there is a 10 per cent discount on hardbacks in these hard times. But Marlborough’s White Horse Bookshop, founded 60 years ago, is more than that.
It has become a mecca over the years as a centre for one day art workshops – now creative writing adventures too – which have proved an attraction to the retired, young mothers and students too who want to develop their talents.
“We’ve also got a knitting workshop going too,” says Edwina Pearce (pictured), who has been organising the workshops for almost 13 years, as well as running the White Horse’s professional artists’ materials department.
“So I’m always looked outside the box for new people who can offer something different. It’s a job I enjoy. So my heart goes into it. And it works wonderfully, up to eight people meeting in warm and comfortable surroundings to develop their talents.
“It’s almost like a club, a miniature version of Marlborough’s Summer School, with people coming back year after year. I love to see them again. They send me emails telling me what they’re doing. It’s great, like being part of a big family.”
It’s a family too with foreign members. Penny Dedman, who lives in Luxembourg, arranges visits to her daughter to coincide with workshop classes, Ann Summers comes from Spain to meet up with old friends, and Ann Meale travels from the Isle of Wight to attend workshops with her daughter.
The renown of the tutors working in an upstairs studio with windows on three sides in the 17th century bookshop building adds to the value of the workshops.
Bill Mather, whose workshop this Saturday is on Wiltshire landscapes in three colour acrylics, is but one of them, along with Susanna Bailey and Kim Vines, all professional artists with their own websites where you can see their work for yourself.
The relaxed, friendly atmosphere is one of the workshops’ virtues, which is recognised by Debby Guest, a member of the bookselling staff.
“What we offer is a comfortable, non-pressurised environment for people to come in and do something they always fancied trying their hand at and never knew quite where to start,” Debby explains.
“Everybody can have a say, have a go. Nobody is going to get left out and neither is anybody going to be pushed to the front.
“If you’ve not tried pastels, there’s a tutor there who will set a project, show you techniques, give you ideas and you can go out at the end of the day with a finished piece of work.” she explains.
“The classes are incredibly popular. We have people who come back time after time.”
Many will welcome novelist Debby Holt and short story writer Alison Clink are now giving workshops in creative writing.
“They enable people to kick-start something they have always wanted to do, to write their own life story, a short story or a novel,” adds Debby Guest. “They may have always wanted to write a novel but never really knew how to get going.
“The first rule in writing is bum on seat and this is it, for a whole day you can get on with it.”
The workshops, which take place on a weekly basis until June 10, cost £27 with a £15 deposit required when booking.
For full details see White Horse website – www.whitehorsebooks.co.uk
Cherry MawbyIt will be the largest ever production of the ever-popular musical CATS and St John’s Academy student Cherry Mawby has been selected to be one of the fifty young dancers at the heart of the performance on Sunday, March 24 in Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena.
This very special production is to celebrate the twenty-fifth birthday of the part-time theatre school network Stagecoach Theatre Arts - an organisation that teaches and nurtures young talent in singing, dancing and acting.
The Marlborough branch of Stagecoach is run by Ingrid Bayley and holds its classes at St John’s. Seventeen year-old Cherry is now teaching its youngest class – for three to four year-olds. She told Marlborough News Online that parents frequently tell her how much the classes have boosted their child’s confidence.
Another young and local graduate of Marlborough Stagecoach is Cameron Strefford who lives in Bedwyn and had a speaking part in the Dr Who Christmas special and a non-speaking part in the recent award winning film of the musical Les Misérables.
The CATS performance involves a prodigious feat of organisation. There will be a professional orchestra (under the baton of Paul Leddington Wright), those fifty main dancers, five hundred Stagecoach singers – and another 2,500 dancers from forty-seven schools in the UK, Malta, Germany and Ireland performing their own creative dances around the vast arena.
As if that wasn’t enough young talent to get to performance level, huge screens will show a virtual choir uniting Stagecoach schools in Canada, Germany, Gibraltar, Ireland, South Africa, Spain and the USA.
Cherry Mawby in the dance studioCherry Mawby was chosen from the three Marlborough dancers who auditioned at the end of 2012. During last month’s half-term, she and all the other Cats spent six days at a Birmingham hotel for an intensive spell of rehearsals.
The Cats will only get to see their costumes when they arrive in Birmingham on the Saturday before the performance for another full day of rehearsing: “So far I’ve only seen my tail” – which was tabby-style. She will be on stage or purring and scratching her way round the audience for almost the whole performance.
On the evidence so far, Cherry knows it’s going to be an exciting show: “There’s lots of flips and triple cartwheels and I get to do a lot of lifts and fun stuff like that. I’ve enjoyed it so much.”
She’s studying for the International Baccalaureate (IB) at St John’s - with final exams in May 2014. She wants to write her extended IB essay on how the social context shapes plays – perhaps comparing Hamlet with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
One plus is that Cherry’s performances count towards the IB’s compulsory Creative Active Service strand. She has also taken part in Youth Music Theatre UK performances including their 2012 Christmas show Let It Snow at the Regents Hall in London.
And last October she was one of Oberon’s fairies in Pewsey Vale Amateur Dramatic Society’s much acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
CATS will be, she says, “an amazing experience”. And the man who wrote its wonderful music, Andrew Lloyd Webber certainly approves: “I’m absolutely thrilled that so many young people will be able to take part in this very special performance of CATS. Happy 25th birthday Stagecoach and thank you for giving your students the opportunity to perform the show in such a spectacular way.”
Tickets can be bought online through The Ticket Factory or by ‘phone: 0844 591 4962.