Sedos silk square

11 July 2022

Sedos was recently contacted by Richard Simon, who has given us a Sedos silk square that belonged to his mother Vivienne Walters. 

Vivienne played several leading roles in Sedos productions before World War II and into the 1950s.

Richard’s parents met in the Sedos production of Chu Chin Chow in 1935, when Vivienne played Zahrat Al-Kulub and his father Derek was one of the chorus of 40 thieves. Derek’s brother Neil joined him in the chorus. Neil later served on the committee of Sedos and was production manager for several shows. 

Richard also sent over a photograph of his mother in a dramatic pose in the production of Chu Chin Chow and a scan of the programme.

Sedos’ 1935 production of Chu Chin Chow
Sedos’ 1935 production of Chu Chin Chow. Picture by The Central Photographic Service
Sedos’ 1935 production of Chu Chin Chow
Programme from Sedos’ 1935 production of Chu Chin Chow

“My mother was 21 at the time, and a student at Trinity College of Music & Drama, now called Trinity Laban Conservatoire,” says Richard. “I don’t think my father is in the photo, but the beards, bald wigs and droopy moustaches make recognition difficult.”

Richard also had a “brief encounter” with Sedos.

“After I left school, I helped backstage in the production of Showboat in February 1966 at the Scala Theatre,” he remembers. “I think I was given the exalted title of assistant stage manager, although I didn’t have much to do; but I was fascinated to hang around backstage and see how everything worked. 

“The only specific task I can remember was to ensure that the actor playing Joe was out of his dressing room and ready to come on to sing Ol’ Man River. Apparently he could be prickly, so the stage manager stressed that he had to be handled with tact and diplomacy. This was a challenge, as at the age of 18 I didn’t really do tactful and diplomatic. In the event Joe was always in the wings in good time, so my skills were never tested.

 “I fell madly in love with one of the girls in the chorus (as one does) who looked as if she was, like me, just out of school. I would stand in the wings and watch entranced as the chorus sang,

“Why do I love you?

Why do you love me?

Why should there be two

Happy as we?”

“At the party after the last night I was mortified to discover that she was several years older than me, working as a secretary in one of the big stockbroking firms, and not the slightest bit interested in getting to know me better.

“As well as a broken heart, the production left me with an enduring love of Jerome Kern’s music.”

It seems that both successful romances and unrequited crushes are an enduring part of Sedos’ history! 

The Sedos silk square is embroidered with part of the old Sedos logo and measures 75x78cm and is in pristine condition, while its accompanying box – which carries the full old logo and the words “The Stock Exchange Dramatic & Operatic Society” – is in rather more battered condition! 

We are delighted that Richard made contact and to have this special piece of Sedos history in our care.

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