Leonard Russell (1923 – 2018)

Len had been awarded honorary life membership of the SSA in recognition of his years of distinguished service.  He first joined in 1951 to play the small role of Bernardo in Hamlet.  However his talents were soon evident and over the course of the next fifty years he acted in every play of the canon.  K.E. (Peter) Gately, our founder, once referred to him as “our resident Henry” because he played Henry VIII and Henry IV (both parts), the latter several times.  His roles tended to reflect his strong and noble character – Othello (at least twice), MacDuff (Macbeth), Enobarbus (Antony and Cleopatra), Brutus (Julius Caesar), Cominius (Coriolanus) – but he also played Buckingham (Richard III), Claudius (Hamlet), Bottom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Warwick (Henry VI pt1/2/3), and Falstaff (The Merry Wives of Windsor), as well as many other supporting roles.  He was one of the first trustees, with KEG and Terry Salmon, who ensured the continued survival of the SSA after Clifford Allen retired as director.  He and his late beloved wife of 68 years, Jean (who died in 2014), were truly pillars of this unique company.  Len died, after courageously surviving cancer well for some years, less than a week short of his 95th birthday.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep

But we shall remember him and the dreams he made transitory reality with admiration, gratitude and affection

Timothy Suffolk

The Winds of Change

Like a roll-on roll-off ferry of amateur theatre, no sooner have we offloaded the cargo of Richard III than  we set sail again with a new, exciting and shiny production on board – The Tempest.  Scheduled for arrival on Hayling Island in November, The Tempest will be directed by Aaron Holdaway and David Pearson and all the important dates are now available, just follow the link

Before saying goodbye to Richard III for good, however, let’s just pause and reflect – it was great fun to be in, with a lovely cast, and strong audience numbers.  Rob Bartlett’s intent was to deliver a clear, pacy and authentic production, and he delivered – as the review said, “It’s great to see one of Portsmouth’s oldest and finest companies still producing Shakespeare of this quality”