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Arthur Brough Players

The production’s saving grace is Miss Stallybrass’s sparklingly zany performance as Ida.
She is a young actress of great promise.

Quote re Pools Paradise

Folkestone & Hythe Herald
10 June 1961

After leaving the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied drama and teaching, Anne began her professional career as an Assistant Stage Manager with the Arthur Brough Players at the Leas Pavilion in Folkestone, Kent.

The repertory company was set up in Folkestone by actor Arthur Brough and his wife in 1929, and except for a break during the Second World War, the company was in existence until 1969.  Arthur Brough may well sound a familiar name; he is most famous for his role as Mr Grainger in the BBC TV comedy Are You Being Served.  At the time Anne was with the Players, they also had a sister company based at the Palace Theatre, Westcliff-On-Sea.

Each week the company put on a new play except during the summer holiday season when productions lasted two weeks.  This rapid turnover must have involved a lot of hard work for all concerned.  A unique aspect of the Leas Pavilion was that it held tea matinees.  For the afternoon performances alternate rows of seats were removed, tables put in their place and the audience served their afternoon tea which was eaten whilst simultaneously watching the play!

Anne joined the Arthur Brough Players in August 1960.  Her first professional role was as Poppy Dickey in Rookery Nook which opened on 29 August.

During the second half of 1960, Anne appeared in about half the plays staged by the company, presumably undertaking ASM duties in most of the other productions.  Two of the plays she had roles in during her first six months were The Aspern Papers and Candida; many years later she would appear in these plays again but in different roles.

As she gained experience, Anne appeared increasingly frequently and in ever larger roles; her first lead being Jo in A Taste Of Honey during April 1961.

Although based mostly at Folkestone, Anne also appeared with the company in her hometown in five productions during 1961.  It must have been a strange feeling to have stood on the stage where so often during her youth she had been one of the audience.

It was whilst the actress was briefly at Westcliff that Roger Rowland, who she would later marry, joined the Folkestone company.  The two appeared on stage together for the first time in Pools Paradise (June 1961).

Anne’s penultimate appearance with the Players was in Two For The See-Saw, a two-hander in which she played opposite Roger.  The actress was already making a name for herself, as indicated by the quote at the top of the page and the following, all taken from one of the local newspapers.

A leading role (in Simple Spymen) will be taken by Anne Stallybrass, who joined the Players last year.

One of the most promising young actresses to appear with the Brough company, she has progressed from bit parts to long and exacting roles such as Jo in A Taste Of Honey and Gittel in Two For The See-Saw ……

Born at Leigh-on-Sea, she won a gold medal for Drama at the Royal Academy of Music.  Her ambition is to extend and broaden her acting experience by playing in Shakespeare.

Anne in her early 20s

Two For the See-Saw …. an intensely interesting character study, is the excellent production of the Arthur Brough Players at the Leas Pavilion this week.  ….. the audience ….. were appreciative of the very fine performances given by the only two characters in the play, Anne Stallybrass and Roger Rowland.

The play was an unusual one in every way.  Instead of telling a story it gradually unfolded the characters of the two lovers, drawn together and each seeking something the other could not give.

Roger Rowland played the young lawyer, disillusioned and feeling that his career had been only successful through the machinations of his father-in-law, which led to the break-up of his marriage.

Determined to stand on his own feet he goes to New York, where he seeks consolation with a warm-hearted but unsuccessful dancer, Anne Stallybrass.

In turn she needs someone on whom she can depend, but her experiences with men who “run out” on her have left his mistrustful.

The eventual solution of the relationship is sympathetically played in the taut atmosphere which the two players create, and leave the audience with a good deal on which to reflect ….

Folkestone & Hythe Herald
16 December 1961

Anne’s final role with the company was in Simple Spymen which was performed during the last week of December 1961.

After eighteen months with the Arthur Brough Players, Anne then moved north to join the Nottingham Playhouse.


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