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"Groping for Words" by Sue Townsend - February 2018


Directed by Katherine Buttfield

Production Manager Rosa Keen

The Cast (in order of appearance)

Kevin Muldoon

Russ Hopkin

Joyce Chalmers

Debbie Edwards

George Bishop

Jon Jones

Thelma Churchill

Emily Brandon



‘Groping for Words’ is a warm compassionate comedy,first performed in 1983. The plot is based around an adult literacy evening class run by the middle-aged and well- meaning Joyce. For her students, the young and determined Thelma and the down- trodden jobless George, even admitting which class they want to attend is agonising, let alone being confronted with the written word. Then there’s Kevin the caretaker who is frustrated in his job and keeps popping in and out of the class. Townsend records their embarrassment and life-long difficulty with sensitivity and humour, as well as in ecting the play with an indignant condemnation of the society which has abandoned the illiterate.

Even 35 years after the play was written, adult illiteracy is still relevant today. According to the “National Literacy Trust” around 15 per cent, or 5.1 million adults in England, can be described as “functionally illiterate”. They would not pass an English GCSE and have literacy levels at or below those expected of an 11-year-old.

Act 1

Scenes 1 to 11 alternate between the creche and caretaker's office


Act 2

(3 months later) Scenes 1 to 6 alternate between the creche and caretaker's office

The Production Team

Stage Manager

Terry Hall


Annette Ayres


Pauline Preston


Richard Lewin

& Lighting

Joe Beresford

Set Design 

Jon Jones

  Katherine Buttfield

Set Construction

Hazi Mistry


Stan Harbidge

  Ian Johnson
  & Group Members


Jon Jones


Annette Ayres

Ticket Sales

Christine Harbidge

Front of House

Christine Harbidge


Tina Warrington


Sally Anderson

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