Tobias and the Angel
Bill Buckland's memory
Tobias and the Angel. I did not have an acting role in this production but Bert Hayden and I were in charge of the lighting. The normally kind Evesham Journal stated that “the dawn came up like thunder” which Bert and I thought was somewhat harsh. The comment may have been influenced by an incident at the end of the play where the angel has to disappear. Miss David’s instructions were that there was to be a bright flash accompanied by dousing all the lighting, the angel would disappear behind a convenient piece of scenery and the light would come up to reveal him gone. In 1953 there was a problem in producing a bright enough flash to distract the audience etc. As chemists, Bert and I solved this with a flash powder of magnesium powder mixed with an oxidant which was ignited in a ceramic holder by blowing some fuse wire buried in the mixture. We determined that two or three teaspoons full would do the trick and at the performance for the school in the afternoon it worked like a charm. At the first evening performance it failed! Miss David badgered us unmercifully saying that it never worked and never would. Bert and I investigated. We had used a transformer to give the current to blow the fuse and secreted it behind the backdrop. During the play one actress had to leave stage left and then enter stage right squeezing behind the backdrop. There was not much room and the transformer being in her way she disconnected and moved it. Under the threat of dire consequences the actress assured us it would happen again and suffering from Miss David’s scorn Bert and used several times as much flash powder as was necessary. It worked like a charm except that the stage was filled with smoke, the first couple of rows were coughing from the same and even people at the back complained that for a long time afterwards their eyesight was affected. We received an apology from Miss David who, to avoid further mishaps, gave me an acting part in the next production.