God and the Devil, the Chris de Burgh song goes, played cards and chess, for the souls of the dead, on the train that runs between Guadalquivir and old Saville – a Spanish Train.
It’s a story of high drama, and it inspired Ross Olive and Timothy Lincoln to turn it onto a play, call it Spanish Train, and enter it for Oribi into the Jeppe inter-house play festival. It wasn’t easy, Ross said, but they got it done – and they walked off with the best production prize.
“We thought it would simply be a matter of turning the lyrics of the song into dialogue, but we found that wouldn’t work,” Ross said, “so we had to introduce some new characters and invent a lot of extra dialogue to make it work.”
The competition is for one act plays and, since the action takes place in various locations, it meant changing scenery while the action was taking place, and using the cast as scenery movers, which was technically complicated.
“It took us about three weeks to write the script and Mrs Kemp edited it and gave us advice. Because I was away in Switzerland with the pipe band we didn’t have much time for casting and rehearsal, but we managed,” Ross said, “in the end it went well, I think, it’s just a pity that after all that effort we only got to stage it once.”
And it certainly did go well. The audience raved about it and it was nominated for awards in several categories, winning best production and best male acting as a female for Michael Ley.
Ross was last involved in drama at Jeppe when he was in grade 8, and this was the first time he has directed, so it was a remarkable achievement for a beginner. “Looking back I would have liked to have been in the drama club through the years, but the pipe band is all-consuming as far as time commitment is concerned, so it wasn’t to be.”
Luckily for those who attended the interhouse play festival, he made this late cameo appearance. It was a great production, and very deserving of first place.