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Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Share the Stage is a book dealing with play production in Primary Schools by Patrick Coyne. It is based on recollections of true events and dedicated to “all those who have taken part, both onstage and backstage, in the production of so many plays”.

In his foreword, well-known actor and director Garth Anderson describes the book as “an excellent aid for any teacher attempting to produce a school play, either an inter-house play or a full production, It has very good guidelines for any producer, and would even be of great assistance to producers of amateur work.”

I heartily agree with him. With amusing illustrations by Gail Gillings, Share the Stage offers invaluable advice to directors of school plays with little or no experience in theatre craft but who are faced with what is a marathon of organisation on top of their own schoolwork. To direct a play for school learners requires an inexhaustible supply of energy, stamina and determination as well as the capacity to deal with budding actors, especially those of a highly pro-active or temperamental disposition. Another challenge is a backstage crew (the unsung heroes we couldn’t do without) who need to understand the production from behind the scenes.

Added to the fact that for each child there are parents, guardians or long-suffering siblings, who have to fetch and carry to and from rehearsals as well as deal with bad tempers or nervous terror from the youngsters as opening night approaches.

In his foreword Patrick Coyne admits that he likes to focus his work on the ages of eight to 13. He also admits that his personal tastes in drama could be considered conservative. He prefers to keep his sets simple. He also prefers the traditional method of having actors on stage and audiences in the auditorium – “and ne’er the twain shall meet”!

Share the Stage incorporates a three-act play with one set which he has written, called The Star Children which was performed at the Atholton Primary School in May, 1982. It features six child characters and six adult characters and incorporates a number of songs which Patrick Coyne has also written.

It’s an amusing story dealing with two children from another planet who are catapulted into the midst of the mildly chaotic life of the Lessing family and their four children. There’s also vague Grannie to contend with as well as an attractive cousin who approves of men with expensive sports cars. Added to this mix, is a cub reporter and a lady from Child Welfare.

Patrick Coyne started his career in the role of the young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol in the UK. In South Africa, he has worked with various amateur dramatic societies and has written a number of plays with combined casts, as well as three radio plays. He is a long-standing member of the South African Writers’ Circle and regularly appears in their monthly magazine.

Producers who would like to put on The Star Children with all its songs, should contact Patrick Coyne on 031 5723077 or 082 4846900, email or visit \ There are no royalties payable for schools’ performances but permission must be obtained from the publishers or Patrick Coyne himself and full acknowledgement must be made in the programme.

Share the Stage: Play Production in Primary Schools is published by Osborne Porter Literary Services. The cover design and layout is by Ginny Porter. ISBN 978-0-9814276-3-8.