La Troupe was started in 2002 by two couples who had been in the same acting group in England and got together with a few other interested people in the Montaigu area with a view to starting a group.

 

A pantomime was suggested as being a good idea as it was felt the Troupe could introduce this as a way of integrating with the French and felt that it would attract English families as well.  First, however, the main concern was to raise some money for costumes, scenery, etc.

 

The founder members all agreed to put up 20 Euros a couple.  One of the members offered to write a murder mystery to attract an English audience.  Touffailles village hall was the venue for this first and only performance of “The Murder Racquet”.  Rehearsals took place over only two weeks and costumes were borrowed from friends’ wardrobes – no scenery was required as the setting was a dinner party.

 

A curry supper was provided, which was such a success that the Troupe have continued, on the whole, to provide a supper with one of the performances ever since.  A picnic evening has also been offered over the last few productions which have also been well received.

 

From this highly successful evening, the Troupe made enough money to be able to put on the first pantomime, Cinderella, which was again written by one of the members and translated so that the show could be delivered in French and English. 

 

At this stage, the Troupe was still rehearsing in people’s houses to save money.  However, the Mairie at Montaigu eventually offered the Troupe the use of the Salle des Fêtes at Montaigu, currently free of charge which the Troupe are very grateful for.  This has been a great boost as it saves money which can be used for enhancing the productions. 

 

In Cinderella, the vast majority of the roles were played by people who had never acted before.  The poor Director was very long suffering.  The music and songs were written by one of the members and she has continued to write music for the Troupe to this day.

 

The Troupe were incredibly lucky to have a very talented dress maker in the group who, single handedly, dressed all the actors until her sad death.  The Troupe was very lucky to find another able and willing volunteer, but this role is now spread over many members’ sewing tables.

 

The scenery was constructed and painted by members for the pantomime in a garage.  Not the best scenery admittedly, but with the very late arrival of a professional set designer, the Troupe did have houses that looked more like houses and geraniums in window boxes that were miraculously made to look real.  Luckily for the Troupe, the set designer brought her husband to the group who was, and is, a professional lighting expert.  Both these members continue to give us their expert knowledge and experience. 

Pantomime had hit Montaigu and it was incredibly well received for a first effort and it continues to get more and more popular.  The cow was taken round the market by Buttons advertising the show and there were lots of jokes about mad English cows!  The cow is alive and kicking and still used in most of the pantomimes.

 

As the Troupe has been running for a number of years, a list of the shows that have been performed are listed here:

 

2003

Murder on the Plate – in-house

There Goes the Bride, by Ray Cooney & John Chapman

 

2004

Aladdin – in-house

Buck the Trend – in-house

Business Affairs, by John Chapman & Jeremy Lloyd

 

2005

Sleeping Beauty – in-house

Murder Most Legal – in-house

Out of Focus, by Peter Gordon

 

2006

Robin Hood – in-house

Musical – French Letters – in-house

 

2007

Mother Goose – in-house

Bedroom Farce, by Alan Ayckbourn

 

2008

Snow White & The Seven Dwarves – in-house

Four Plays for Coarse Actors, written by Michael Green

“Something Different” – a Review Show

 

2009

Jack & The Beanstalk – in-house

Confusions, by Alan Ayckbourn

Death at the Shangri-La – in-house

 

2010

Cinderella, by Graham Barraclough

“Let us Entertain You” – a Review Show

 

2011

Beauty and the Beast – in-house

Old Actors Never Die, They Simply Lose the Plot, by Lynn Brittney

3 One Act Plays – The Friday Night Radio Play, by Daman Trasler; The Chinese Whisper, by Harry Williams and A Chip in the Sugar, by Alan Bennett

 

2012

Alice in Wonderland, by Johanna Gibbs

Play On, by Rick Abbot

Gaslight, by Patrick Hamilton

 

2013

Red Riding Hood – in-house

Beyond a Joke, by Derek Benfield

 

2014

Aladdin – in-house

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery, by David McGillivray & Walter Zerlin Jnr.

3 One Act Plays – A Decent Exposure, by Harry Allstock; Temptation Sordid or Virtue Rewarded, by Winifred Phelps and Last Panto in Little Grimley, by David Tristram

 

2015

Pinocchio – in-house

Seasons Greetings, Alan Ayckbourn

3 One Act Plays - Over my Dead Body , by Pat Baker; The Proposal by Anton Chekhov; Little Grimley Presents Sex Factor on Ice , by David Tristram

 

2016

Puss in Boots– bi-lingual pantomime (in-house)

Rich Ruby (in house)

The Mystery of Talbot Manor (Gary Simpson)

2017
Sleeping Beauty (in house)

The Reunion (Peter Gordon)

The Return to Talbot Manor (Gary Simpson)

2018

Babes in the Wood (in house)

Cash on Delivery (Michael Cooney)

A Cut in the Rates (Alan Ayckbourn)

Black Comedy (Peter Shaffer)

2019

Snow White and the 7 dwarfs (in-house)

 

 

Over the years the Troupe have been joined by several French people, including children.  A number of English children have also been involved.

 

The pantomimes have proven to be so successful that the Troupe felt the local schools should be invited to attend, free of charge, on the Friday afternoon.  A member of the Troupe visits the schools in advance to explain the story of the pantomime for that year which helps greatly with the audience participation on the day.

 

The usual pattern of productions starts with a play or quiz in the autumn, the pantomime in January and a play in the spring.  A few social events are also held during the year, one being the summer social where good food and company can be found.

 

The Troupe have a Mission Statement which reads:  “The principal objectives of La Troupe are to provide high quality and good value amateur entertainment for our audiences whilst enjoying ourselves and to strive for increasingly high standards”.

 

If you are interested in acting, backstage, directing, front of house, lighting, make-up, painting, props or sound the Troupe would love to hear from you – please contact us.