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News > Memories at Hymers > Maureen Lipman's Performances at Hymers College

Maureen Lipman's Performances at Hymers College

In the 1960s, Hymers College and Newland High School for Girls held joint drama productions
Maureen's links to Hymers
Maureen's links to Hymers

Prior to the 1970s, Hymers College, as we all know, was an all-boys school.  This of course meant that in performing school plays, often the boys had to take on the girl's parts as well.  Newland High School had a similar problem being an all-girls school.  This led to a collaboration between the schools to perform joint dramatic productions in the 1960s.

Dame Maureen Lipman DBE was a student at Newland High School at the time, while her older brother, Geoffry Lipman attended Hymers College from 1955 until 1962.

Captain John Mitchell joined the staff of Hymers College in 1949 and was responsible for drama in his early years at the school.  It is rumoured that he encouraged Maureen to 'tread the boards' in 'The Importance of being Earnest' in 1962 as Cecilly, which was a joint Newland High School/Hymers College production.  Maureen also portrayed Portia in the 1964 performance of Julius Caesar.

We contacted Maureen to ask about her memories of performing at Hymers College:

I remember the director was Mo Mitchell, the drama and English teacher who resembled Michael Bentine from The Goons and wore a beret. Janet Dagwell played Lady Bracknell and was very good as I remember. I thought I was Gwendolyn but maybe that was wishful thinking!

I practised with my elocution teacher Gwen Sibley and we rehearsed a couple of times a week at Hymers. Canon Chasuble was Christopher Wood, who was obsessed by Laurence Olivier whom I had barely heard of and did accurate impersonations of his idol which I only realised were accurate when I worked in ‘Sir’s” company at the Old Vic 1970-73.

I only vaguely remember the boy who played Algy because he looked like Alex Jennings (English actor of the stage and screen).

Maureen Lipman

Maureen went on to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and made her acting debut a few years later in The Knack in 1969. Since then, she has worked in film, TV, theatre, and radio, and is currently playing Evelyn Plummer in Coronation Street.  She has also written ten bestselling, anecdotal books.  She has received two Olivier awards, two Royal Variety awards, and several nominations and was awarded the CBE in 1999 for her services to drama.  She was made a dame in the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours for services to charity, entertainment, and the arts.

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