The Barn Theatre, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Mervyn Lloyd

Mervyn participated in 15 productions at the Barn.

Mervyn Lloyd (I)

One of the writers’s treasured possessions is a facsimile edition of John Gay’s ‘Beggars’ Opera’, bought in 1964 as a memeto of the production of that work at the Barn Theatre, directed by Mervyn Lloyd.

Mervyn moved to the Garden City with his parents in the early 50s. He went into the professional world of film making with an advertising agency, having trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama. His first engagement with local theatre was as an actor with Welwyn Drama Club in 1953. From that time un til a week ago, his record of involvement was almost continuous.

In recent years, Mervyn worked with the Welwyn Thanlians and with Herts. Operatic and Sramatic Society in Hertford, mainly as a director. However, one of Mervyn’s most memorable acting performances links Welwyn and Hertford in his reading of ‘The Narrator’ in ‘Under Milk Wood’ – at Welwyn in 1961 and Hertford in 1987.

For many it will be as a director that Mervyn is remembered: with warmth – delight perhaps – even with a thrill of recollection by some – but with exaseration by a few. His actors, for the most part, loved him – despite his occasional lapses in punctuality at rehearsals.

His technicians sometimes despaired at what they were asked to achieve – under pressure of time heated exchanges were not unknown. His fondness for particular effects gave rise to such remarks as “Well, here’s Mervyn – where’s the smoke machine?”

In time to come there will be many hours of discussion of Mervyn’s strengths and weaknesses as director, of reminiscenses and anecdotes about ‘Mervyn productions’, evaluations of his skills as a translator of fictional works to the stage (‘Sweeney Todd’, Alice’ for the Minack, ‘Turn of the Screw’ at the Barn).

His friends will have their personal memories of Mervyn. My own include these: as a young man with Bobby Young and (I Think) David Dimmock in cabaret and review sketches: his Noel Coward impressions at after-show parties: his help of younger people in finding toe-holds for them in the professional world he inhabited. Mervyn was also a knd and generous host, with a wonderful repertoire of ‘green room’ tales and theatrical anecdotes.

Mervyn gave all his attention to any enterprise he had untertaken, subject only to the vicissitudes of his profession. The depth of his knowledge on the theatre was immense, his preparation for each project exhaustive. He could be contentious and vexing, and yet he could charm the birds from the trees. In the outcome, he could be genrous in his praise. He was also genuinely, truly modest.

To return to the ‘Beggars’ Opera’ – which was the first joint production of the Welwyn Drama Club and Welwyn Folk Players. It was the first practical step toward the amalgamation of the clubs five years later – a cause Mervyn actively campaigned for.

In the introduction to the paly – a brief dialogue between a ‘Beggar’ and a “Player’ – the Player speaks these lines:


“As we live by the MUSE, ‘tis but gratitude in us to encourage poetical

 merit wherever we find it. The MUSES, contrary to all other ladies, pay

 no distinction to dress, and never partially mistake the pertness

of embrodiery for wit, nor the modesty of want for dullness. Be the author

 who will, we push his play as far as it will go.”


The list of signatures collected on the flyleaf after the production ends with these words in Mervyn’s onw handwriting:


“last but least!


with thanks.”

Thank you, Mervyn | Eric Farlie

Mervyn Lloyd (II)

May I say how sad and shocked Janet and I were to learn of Mervyn’s death. For many years both of us were closely connected with much of what he achieved at the Barn Theatre and Welwyn Festival. ‘Point of Departure’ in 1955 seemed to set a new standard productionwise inso much that it tackled difficult technical problems with great success, and achieved a wonderful blend of realism and fantasy without blunting either.

His productions developed an ambivalence between the naked emaotions aof Tennessee Williams and Albee, and the brittle sophistication of Noel Coward. May I say that I thought him more successful in the former than the latter for reasons which are arrelevant in this brief tribute. Of course, ‘Red Peppers’ was the exception but that was Coward on a delicious spree and a gift both to producer and performers.

I collaborated with Mervyn as Music Director, for twenty years or so. ‘Red Peppers’ in 1959 began it all but our first full-length one was a joint Folk Player – Drama Club production of ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ in 1964. Somewhat coincidentally our collaboration concluded with ‘The Threepenny Opera’. It seemed as though the wheel had come full circle. I found him not only a stimulating director to work with but also one who was apreciative and understanding. I do not think we ever had a cross word in our long association. His very demanding profession made it difficult for him to keep regula hours but the end result, in my experience, was always the midnight oil expended. If I had to say which production was the most successful, I should have to nominate ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ which moved the large audiences it attracted considerably.

One regrets the productions that never were; ‘Valmouth’ for instance, for which he was unable to obtain persmission. ‘Hamlet’, of course, he always wanted to do for many years. An incredible amount of work went into a one-night stand, ‘Salome’ and it was worth it.

On moving here seven years ago we heard only echoes of the activities in Handside Lane so we are not in a position to comment on Mervyn’s later work. Over the period we knew and worked with him, he made outstanding contributions to local and Festival drama. We do hope he will have some abiding commemoration in its future activities.

Ray Aspey

Mervyn Lloyd (III)

In November 1974 I wrote a ‘piece’ for the Barn News. I had just finished playing in the production of ‘Orpheous Descending’. Mervyn Lloyd was the Director. I remember we talked when the week’s run was through, and he said that coming to the end of ‘was like losing a limb’. I wrote as much to the readers of Barn News. I wanted them to know of my appreciation and gratitude.

Now I feel I have lost another limb. The news of Mervyn’s death left me stunned. I j=have lived in Devon for five years now and have not seen him in all that time yet the measyre of his influence in any theatrical undertaking I may have since purseued is still apparent, for he re-established in me my own theatrical worth.

Working with Mervyn was ajoy because he was a complete professional. His devotion to the theatre was total – his imagination vibrant and his attention to detail exciting. You felt you were surfing along with him on a very high tide of endeavour always aimoing to catch those six-foot waves. His successesw were thrilling – his failures few, but always big and challenging and courageous. He offered you his whole and undivided sttention and in return you gave him back your utmost and typically he would turn it into the very best.

There has been only one Mervyn Lloyd, but across the country deep in the realms of amateur theatre there must surely be others like him. In the context of amateur and indeed professional drama they are rare creatures, to be nurtured and cherished. They are like gold in the bottom of a prospector’s pan.

Talented, warm, stubborn, temperamental, single-minded, brilliantly communicative and generous, he moved through my life – and my life was made the richer for knowing him.

Janet Shuck




Do you have a question? Do you need help?

Feel free to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.

If you need to contact a specific department eg. Box Office, please select it from the dropdown list.

Part 1, 18th Jan 8pm

Part 2, 19th Jan 8pm

Parts 1+2 20th Jan 2.30pm

Part 1, 23rd Jan 8pm

Part 2, 24th Jan 8pm

Part 1, 25th Jan 8pm

Part 2, 26th Jan 8pm

Part 1, 27th Jan 2.30pm

Part 2,  27th Jan 8pm