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Derrick Payne - A tribute to a much loved and long standing member of MLADS who sadly passed away in June 2004:-

"Hi gang, Sorry I'm late.!" "Oh, Derrick!!!"
How many times have we played out that scene over the years. It could almost be his catchphrase.

We remember Derrick a friend to many and a father and grandfather.

What is a friend?
The dictionary gives 4 definitions of which we'll mention 3.
A person whom one knows, likes and trusts.
One who supports or patronises a group.
An acquaintance.

Derrick comes into the first 2 definitions for us in the drama group as some of us knew him for at least 30 years as a member of MLADS. Everyone with whom he came into contact liked and trusted him to do his utmost when playing a dramatic role or helping to make and decorate a set.

Derrick played many roles during his time with us both comedy and tragedy and everybody will have a different one that they remember. We know his favourite type of role was in a farce where his sense of timing was brilliant. Many have been lucky to have parts in some of these with him and they managed to bounce off each other giving the play that extra Zap. One example was "Run For Your Wife" in which Derricks' mate tried to hide both Derrick's wives from each other as the plot grew more and more complicated. Another type of character that he liked to play is illustrated by Earnest in "You should See Us Now" in which he had to be both a "Mans' Man" and a bit henpecked by his wife.

A long ambition held by Derrick was to direct and star in "Plaza Suite" by Paul Simon. He eventually achieved this in a brilliant production which won the Noda Best Production for that year. He played the Walter Mathau part as the father of the bride who decides she is not going through with the wedding. The part really allowed Derrick to show off his talents for acting and timing.

Another thing Derrick liked to do was to burst into song and dance at any opportunity and he could sing so many tunes from Sinatra to musicals. In one play he had to dance with a Twenties flapper that nobody else could see. He took part in a barber shop trio during Charlie that almost stopped the show. At an after play party they sang for about an hour every song you could name from any musical. It was magic!

His skill as an artist has enhanced many a play and lead to the high regard in which our sets are held by the Amateur Dramatic audience. Many will remember a play, which required to have a roof garden on a flat in the middle of London. By the time Derrick had finished you could see a vista of high rise buildings in the centre of London painted on the back wall. He could also paint portraits and a famous one, with eye sockets cut out, played a central role in a play called "The Haunted through lounge and recessed dining nook at Farndale Castle." The construction of the sets was always a highlight of any play for Derrick as he looked forward to the banter that would take place on Sunday mornings as we worked to carry out the stage managers orders.

Derrick was also our historian and he was collating a scrap book which we will endeavour to keep going.  It seemed that he could remember every line in every play that we had ever done and what had happened if things went wrong. An illustration of that was his role as the community hall caretaker in "Murder in Company". It was a story that he loved to tell. He was required to make his first entrance from the door at the back of the hall and he was a nasty character taking delight in disturbing two young people waiting to rehearse on the stage. Unfortunately a member of the real audience didn't understand and thought he was gate crashing the play. He stood up and bundled Derrick outside without any regard for Derricks' protestations that he was a part of the play. Eventually he managed to convince the man and he rejoined the action.

Derrick loved to tell or should I say retell jokes and we were almost like children, wanting their favourite story from dad, as we gathered in the bar after rehearsals saying "Come on Del tell us the one about…." At one stage he could almost yell out a number and we would all laugh because we knew which joke it was. Eventually he thought that he and another member of the group would be able to collect the jokes in a book and make an Anthology of MLADS jokes.

Derrick would always be one of the first people to welcome new members to the group and try to make them feel welcome and want to stay with the group, especially the female ones as he thought we were always short in that area.

The third dictionary definition talks of acquaintances and some other drama groups know of Derrick as a visiting player in their productions. He appeared in several shows for Writtle, Latchingdon, Tiptree and others around the county. He liked to tell us about the role of Billy he had in "Chicago" and how hard it was to learn to dance in a chorus line. That he was able to do it says a lot about his determination to perform and the patience of the musical director of the show!!! Not only did he perform in different groups he also encouraged us to visit other groups' productions around the area and he supplied them with his comments on their production in the Bar afterwards!!

The dictionary definitions leave out one vital point.

It doesn't speak of the years that a friendship endures,
the laughter that fills the air when friends are together,
the support, understanding and comfort a friend can offer or
the anguish you cannot escape when a friend has passed away.

The greatest sweetener of human life is Friendship.
To raise this to the highest pitch of enjoyment,
is a secret which but few discover.

Every one of Derrick's many fans will have their own favourite memories of his excellent performances. He will be greatly missed by many.

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