Lighthorne Festival winners 2016

A touring company from Northampton has won the fourth annual Lighthorne Festival of One-Act plays.

White Cobra took the coveted trophy with Housebound by Simon Mawdsley, a comedy about a burglary gone wrong, which they entered at the last minute to help the organisers after another group pulled out.

Lighthorne Festival winners 2016, Housebound by Simon Mawdsley, directed by Paul Fowler, performed by Winners White Cobra Theatre Company of Northampton. Richard Jordan as Bone the burglar, and Kate Billingham as Fiona, the agoraphobic housewife.

The East Midlands theatre company, previous national champions, had already submitted their first choice, a tragi-comic story behind a Laurel and Hardy tribute act, entitled Another Fine Mess by Gillian Plowman.

The group performed both plays on the second night (Thursday June 9, 2016) of the four-night Festival in which ten amateur theatre companies presented 12 plays in Lighthorne Village Hall, Warwickshire.

Second were Great Witley Operatic Society from Worcestershire with the Burnand and Sullivan comic operetta, Cox and Box.

Nuneaton’s Abbey Players, who were defending their title as the 2015 champions, came third and fourth respectively with their two plays, Boxing Day and Just a Straight Man. The adjudicator was Jan Palmer Sayer who is a Council Member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators.

White Cobra now qualify for consideration for the National Drama Festivals Association British All-Winners Finals, to be held this year in Hertford at the end of July. Lighthorne is a NDFA-recognised Festival.

Two local playwrights whose plays were performed during the Festival, Ginny Davis from Lighthorne Drama Group with her gentle WI comedy Arrows of Desire, and Nick Marsh from Rugby Theatre with his World War Two thriller A Frank Exchange, have been nominated for NDFA’s original writing competition by the adjudicator and the Festival chairman, Rod Chaytor.


Arrows of Desire, tells the story of the chairman of a village WI group battling dwindling numbers, written by local playwright Ginny Davis and performed by Ginny herself (right) together with Sharon Bayliss, who played the part of Anna Gold (left), directed by Victoria Pritchard.

He said:” For the second year running, our top four participants achieved or surpassed a score of 80, which is the Guild of Drama Adjudicators’ benchmark of excellence, and two other groups were as close as possible behind.

“We have again this year been getting really positive feedback from our village, the wider audiences and participating groups. Everyone seems to have had a fantastic time.

“Our guests this year included two other GoDA Council members, two national Council members of the National Drama Festivals Association, a national officer and two regional officers from the All-England Theatre Festival plus a regional officer from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.

“It is a tribute to our event and the village team which runs it that so many Festival organisers of national significance came from all over the country to see how we do it, just to enjoy it, or both.”

The organisers paid tribute to the Stratford-based theatre company, Caramba, their inaugural 2013 winners, who also stepped in to fill a breach with a self-written monologue by director Kate Guest; and another Stratford group, Phoenix Players, who managed to shift an 11-hander from one night to another to accommodate forced changes to the running order.

Next year’s Lighthorne Festival will run from Wednesday June 7 to Saturday June 10, 2017. Expressions of Interest from would-be participating groups are invited to chairman Rod Chaytor on by October 31, this year.