Hope McIntyre Stewart

Sunday, March 18, 2012    

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Claire's mother, Hope McIntyre Stewart, read for a degre in Zoological sciences at Oxford University in the '60s and was a member of the Oxford Experimental Theatre Group. Here's what David Wood (OBE), who is a celebrated British writer for children's theatre (and the clown in the picture!) shared with SO.

Hang Down Your Head and Die opened at the Oxford Playhouse early in 1964, then played at the Comedy Theatre in London's West End for six weeks during the Easter vacation. Bernard Levin, in the Daily Mail, said, 'these young people are an honour to the theatre and to themselves'. The anti-capital punishment revue featured several cast members who later did well in the entertainment world -- Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python's Flying Circus are the best known. The director was Braham Murray, who has, for many years, been artistic director of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. The main writer was the late David Wright. I wrote most of the songs and managed to get nominated as Best Newcomer to the West End in the Variety Critics' Poll. The show was nominated as best revue/musical.

Claire was one of the versatile team of young ladies dressed in bright leotard and tights as circus performers. The setting was a circus, with the ringmasters acting as commentators and comperes, and the Strong Man becoming the Hangman. I was one of the Clowns. Before every performance Hope backcombed my (long) hair, which stuck out like a zany wig! Happy memories!!!

It was, for me, a magical time. Appearing in the West End at the age of 20 -- a dream come.




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