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A Private View 

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Following a successful Christmas production in 2023, The Dulwich Players reprised "A Private View" for two special nights, on 13th and 14th May 2024, as part of the Dulwich Festival.

A PRIVATE VIEW MAKES ITS WAY HOME

Just how lucky are The Dulwich Players?

A little over a year ago, Brian Green put forward the idea of following his great success, Christmas at Bell House, with another promenaded theatrical delight. This time rather than people who had lived in Bell House, Brian settled on the remarkable story of paintings from Dulwich Picture Gallery that were housed there after their return from safe-keeping in Wales at the end of the last war and before they returned to the re-built Picture Gallery. Last December saw everything come together and another triumph for The Dulwich Players. 

As good and appropriate a venue as Bell House was, I had an idea I could not get out of my head: I wanted us to follow the paintings the short distance across College Road and perform our four short plays as near as possible to the original art. "Well good luck with that!", "It would be great, but it won’t happen", "They aren’t going to agree to that" were some of the more polite responses to my idea. Undeterred, I knew we had good shows that would not embarrass us or the Gallery, we could offer to perform as part of the Dulwich Festival and the Gallery is a lot more open and friendly than some folk might think. However, I was aware and slightly in awe of the fact that Dulwich Picture Gallery houses a truly world-class collection of works by some of the greatest masters of European art. The Gallery is one of the finest examples of architecture by Sir John Soane and is the first purpose-built public art gallery in Britain. With high hopes and slightly lower expectations, I contacted Jennifer Scott, the Director of the Gallery. I did not have to wait long for a reply: Jennifer was her usual positive and enthusiastic self, "Let’s make this work, it sounds fabulous". Jennifer put me in touch with Marcel Bruneau, what a good chap he proved to be, he was to be our contact with the Gallery. I must say I did not realise on our first meeting that it was pretty much a done deal; they wanted us almost, but not quite, as much as we wanted them. From that first meeting in the Gallery Cafe to our, almost tearful, leaving at the end of our run, the Gallery staff were brilliant, beyond anything I could have hoped for. Unfortunately, one of the paintings was in store, so "Three Peasants in an Inn" was performed in the art room rather than the Gallery itself, not that that stopped everyone saying how much they enjoyed it. The three casts who did get to act within (almost) touching distance of their originals did, I hope, realise that they will never act in a more subject-connected space again. The audiences, the Gallery staff and volunteers who kindly stewarded for us, and the Dulwich Festival people all gave such great, heart-warming and appreciative feedback. 

Just sometimes, not often but sometimes, dreams come true. Once again, a massive thank you to all involved. 


As a P.S. Dulwich Picture Gallery is always worth visiting (join as a Friend and go as often as you want) but until the end of November they have a fantastic temporary exhibition running – Yoshida: Three Generations of Japanese Print Makers.

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