East Finchley Theatre Group
(1972-1991) (IN CONSTRUCTION)
In 1972, Barbara Clarke, who had recently transferred her membership to EFM following the closure of Jackson's Lane, Highgate Methodist Church, noticed that there was very little in the church for teenagers and young adults. The Junior Church was well established but there was not much in the way of social activities. Barbara had a background in amateur theatre and decided to start a drama group that would utilise the dramatic and musical talents of the church's young people. It was to be a church based group but open to anyone who wanted to join. East Finchley Methodist Theatre Group was established. Later it became East Finchley Theatre Group (to shorten the name) or EFTG.
There was a stage in the church hall (now no longer part of the EFM property) but it was filled with the junk of ages, as was the space underneath the stage and the 'cubbyhole' (stage right). There was also a lighting gallery, although similarly junk filled. It took a great effort from the members of the newly formed group but a stage was created and the other spaces cleared and an acting space was created, the lighting gallery was cleared and this became a costume store (as was the cubby hole). Later the stage was enlarged using flexible stage units which could be stored when not in use.
The group was not just for young people. Adult members of the church became involved in both acting and non-acting roles. A committee (there can't me a Methodist group without a committee to run it!) was formed. Barbara became EFTG's founding director.
Early productions were musical extravaganzas That's Entertainment (1972) and South American Way (1973) but these were followed by pantomimes Sleeping Beauty (1974) and plays for children and a one act play evening. In 1976 the group mounted its first full length drama, The Vigil by Ladislas Fodor, which examines the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus in the trial of the gardener Gethsemane who stands accused of the theft of the body. It was performed in the sanctuary and involved many church members.
In 1977, the group celebrated the Queen's Silver Jubilee with play entitled The Queen Came By, a play that told the story of a haberdashers on the occasion that Queen Victoria passed by during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
In following years the group produced two to three productions a year. While the autumn production was invariably aimed at a family audience, the spring production saw the group perform a wider range of dramas and comedies. In time, it was this production that was entered into the Barnet Borough Arts Drama Festival which included a professional report on the production and various acting and production awards. The group was reasonably successful in the competition but our most successful production was Bitter Sanctuary by Rosemary Anne Sission which won the award for the 1986 best play, the director's award for Barbara and the best young performer for Carl Edmonds who played Michael, one of the children in the play.
The group joined in with the worship and life of the church, providing readers, performing Christian drama in services, reading poetry and prose in church events and once providing a team of performers for the MAYC rally at Westminster Central Hall that Bernard Braley and Keith Wakefield had organised.
In 1987, Barbara retired and moved away and Robert Alderman took over as the group's main director. The group continued with family productions in the autumn and a drama/comedy in the spring which was entered into the BBAC drama festival with good results.
1992 saw the end of the group when the church hall was sold. Some thought was given to continue to produce plays in the new multi-purpose space in the sanctuary (there were several productions there over the years) but it was clear that this would prove too difficult to achieve with the same degree of success as the previous 20 years and the group closed.
Last modified: 13 March 2021
- 197 High Road
- East Finchley
- N2 8AJ
020 8444 2016