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Page 1
The Singular Act of Cyrano de Bergerac
by Alistair Briche
A concertinaed version of the story by Edmond Rostand


Cast – In order of appearance


A Food Seller in a Parisian theatre ~ Jess Gelders

Lignière – A literary friend of Cyrano ~ Jim Woods

Christian de Neuvillette – A handsome soldier in the Cadets* ~ Bill Colombi

Montfleury – An actor ~ Bill

Cyrano de Bergerac – a poetic member of the Gascony Cadets ~ Jim

Ragueneau –  a baker, poet and friend to Cyrano ~ Bill

Lise – Ragueneau’s Wife ~ Jess

Madame Madeleine Robin (Roxane) – A  young lady, Cyrano’s Cousin ~ Jess

A Capuchin**  –  A Friar ~ Bill

De Guiche – A high ranking officer in the Guards ~ Bill


Scene 1 – A Theatre in Paris – An evening in the Spring of 1640

Scene 2 – Ragueneau’s Bakery in Paris – The following morning

Scene 3 – Outside Roxane’s House – A week or two later

Scene 4 – At the Siege of Arras – August 1640

Scene 5 – A Convent – Fifteen years later

Each of the scenes matches the five acts of the original play.


Music used during the play.

The Nun’s singing in Scene 5 is from a recording of the Benedictine Nuns of St Cecilia’s Abbey (Ryde, Isle of Wight) singing Gregorian Chant Gaudete  – A selection from the Liturgical Year : Lent: Ave Regina Caelorum  and Holy Week: Lamentation of Jeremiah.


Not Sung, but quoted in Scene 5: “The autumn leaves that jewel the ground, they know the art of dying.” from October Song by Robin DH Williamson of the Incredible String Band.


* A Cadet in those days was a member of the nobility, but a younger son, so not in line to inherit the family estate.

* * A Capuchin is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, who were very much in the ascendancy all over Europe at the time this play was set. This Capuchin must have also have been ordained Priest to be permitted to carry out a wedding ceremony.

Interval of 20 mins


The availability of refreshments varies from venue to venue.

 At Toft House the club bar may be used before the show starts and after it, as well as during the interval.

Page 2

The Flawed Flautist
by Alistair Briche


Cast – In order of appearance


Tony Roberts  - The Rehearsal Studio Manager ~ Bill Colombi

Joanne Smythe  - A Pianist ~ Jess Gelders

Henry Mann - A Flautist ~ Jim Woods


The play, with its closing twist*, is set in a privately run rehearsal studios facility, where various studios, large and small, can be hired, at very reasonable cost, to musicians unable to practise at home. Some of the studios are well equipped with drum kits, guitar amplifiers, microphones etc. Some are just equipped with a piano of varying quality - but always well tuned and in good order - and some just provide a music stand or two. These variations are reflected in the hourly hire rate.


*The closing twist: even the actors will not know how they are to end the play each night until the final piece of music is played.


Music used during the play.

All music has been computer generated unless specified otherwise.

The first two movements : Allegro maestoso and Adagio ma non troppo

  • Ave Verum Corpus (Hail, true body) K 168 by Mozart and transcribed for solo piano by Franz Liszt. Played here by pianist David Andruss as part of the on-line Adult Piano Adventures Classics Book 2

  • The Swan (Le Cygne) from the Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens.

  • Rondo Alla Turca  - The third movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major.

The final piece of music played will be one of the following:

  • I could be happy with you from The Boy Friend, by Sandy Wilson

  • Ave Verum Corpus, by Mozart, or

  • The Piano Man by Billy Joel


Three Course Theatre is grateful to The Northern School of Art (Hartlepool Campus) for the loan of the baby grand piano prop and to Sara Kirkman of Teesside Wind Band for the flute.


For the musically uninitiated.

Music comes in various major or minor ‘keys’, which determines which of the black keys are normally used when playing the music on a piano. For music in the key of ‘C major’ none of the black keys are normally used. For music set in the key of ‘G major’ (such as Mozart’s Flute concerto used in this play), the F sharp key (the left-hand key of each group of three black keys) is used instead of the white F natural key to its left. In the key of ‘D major’ the F sharp and the C sharp keys are used. Then, of course there are the' flats' – which are just sharps, but by a different name…  Enjoy the play anyway!

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Production Team

Director / Producer and Van driver ~ Bill Colombi

Sound and Light ~ Eddie Brichieri-Colombi

General Factotum ~ Joe Harrison

Wardrobe ~ Pat Towse and Sharon Bolton

Prompt ~ Elaine Gelders

For Billingham Theatre Upstairs ~ Geoff Foxall and Claire Jennings

For MLT Studio Theatre ~ Chris Allon, Mike Crofts and Joe Harrison

For St Mary’s Church Hall ~ Nicola Roberts and Paul Crosby

For Saltburn Community Theatre~ Philip Thomson and Drexal Parker 




Three Course Theatre are grateful for the invaluable assistance from Middlesbrough Little Theatre with many aspects of the production of these two plays, in particular the used of rehearsal space and the wardrobe department at Toft House. We are also grateful for help from each of the amateur groups that usually use each of these venues: The Billingham Players, The Middlesbrough Little Theatre Club, The Nunthorpe Players and the Saltburn ’53 Society. Without this help none of this would have been possible.


About the Friends of Murambinda Hospital (FMH)

 FMH is a small charity dedicated to raising funds for the Murambinda Mission Hospital in Zimbabwe. The charity was set up by a group of doctors who had all done their ‘Elective’ (a period of 6-12 weeks working in a medical setting away from their training), at the Murambinda Mission Hospital, in Zimbabwe. They were so impressed with how much was being done with so little resources at the hospital that they founded the charity to provide what support they could once they had left. This support has included: supplementing the meagre wages of the doctors and nurses in order to help keep stability in the staffing, providing diesel for the stand-by generator for when there are power is cuts – a frequent occurrence - and providing medicines and medical equipment. One of their latest projects is providing solar panels to provide a free and a more reliable source of energy than that from the mains supply. As well as carefully monitoring how donated money is spent on these projects, the Trustees pay all the expenses of running the charity themselves. This means that every penny raised goes directly towards supporting the work of the hospital. The treasurer of FMH is a GP working in East Cleveland, so we have a close local connection. Recent Trustee meetings have been held via Zoom, with an open session for supporters to get up-dates on the work at the hospital, to ask questions and exchange ideas on fund-raising activities. Using the wonders of modern technology, it has been possible to include senior staff from the hospital in these sessions, to give live progress reports on how things are going at the hospital and a chance to express their gratitude, in a very personal way, for the support given by FMH and its supporters. Much more information about the charity, the hospital and the huge catchment area that makes use of its services, can be found on the FMH website

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Director’s Notes

The Singular Act of Cyrano de Bergerac

It had long been a dream of mine, to direct a version of Cyrano de Bergerac, but the huge resources required to perform the full five acts of the original were beyond my grasp. With the advent of Alistair Briche’s concertinaed version of Edmond Rostand’s original, my dream has, at last, come true. Alistair, we understand, based this version on a number of translations, including those of Gladys Thomas, Mary F. Guillemard, Anthony Burgess, and even his own wife, a fluent French speaker. Inevitably, in producing a concertinaed version, many memorable events had to be omitted - lost in the folds, as it were: Gone is Cyrano composing poetry in Act 1 as he fights a duel. Gone is Cyrano’s inventive waylaying of De Guiche in Act 3 as he describes the many ways of getting to the moon. Gone too, Roxane, assisted by Ragueneau, smuggling food to the starving Gascony Cadets at the Siege of Arras in Act 4, using her womanly charms to pass through Spanish lines. Gone too are the many moments of poetic musing that are the essence of this play. In spite of all these omissions, we trust that you think that Alistair has done justice to the original story line, and that you enjoy it.


Cyrano's nose: In this production Cyrano does not have an exceptionally large nose - I believe it is sufficient that he believes that he has one that causes him to act / re-act in the way he does.


The Flawed Flautist

The play, written by Alistair Briche, was apparently inspired by an event described in the “This is mine” round of the BBC TV programme Would I lie to you, by choir master Gareth Malone. Spoiler alert – as Gareth’s version was true, Alistair Briche had no qualms in incorporating the underlying concept in his play, albeit in a very different setting, and for a very different reason.


Alistair had adapted a short story by a well-known, but long deceased author, for the stage as a one act play, which Three Course Theatre were planning  to perform. However, I was unable to come to an agreement on royalty payments with the custodians of the author’s estate, so that play will have to wait a few more years until copyright of the original story expires.  Thus thwarted, Alistair set about writing this play in its stead, so royalties ceased to be an issue for Three Course Theatre. Alistair was able to bring some of his own life experiences to bear : a past pupil of his, whom he kept in touch with, who went on to become an eminent piano tuner, including working for Steinways; the fact that his own grandfather was tragically killed in an industrial accident before he was born and, most importantly,  his own, although somewhat  inept, love of making music.

Bill Colombi


About the Author - Alistair Briche

Alistair is an elusive character, who is hard to pin down. He has written a number of musical dramas and adaptations for the stage, but is happy to see them performed without adventuring into trying to get them published. He has said he will be at one of the performances at least, but will not be making himself known. He wishes Three Course Theatre well with this production of his plays.

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