FELICITY Clements is chairwoman of the amateur performance group Brighton Little Theatre. She tells EDWIN GILSON about the production of Oliver Goldsmith’s comedic play She Stoops to Conquer, first staged in 1773.

FELICITY Clements has been involved with Brighton Little Theatre since 1991, so it’s fair to say she’s staged a lot of classic productions in her time. Her method of choosing which plays to put on, however – and it’s no different with She Stoops to Conquer – is pleasingly simple.

“I studied the many plays on my bookshelf and alighted upon it,” she says. “That’s often how it works; you alight upon something and you instinctively know it’s right.”

In the case of Oliver Goldsmith’s work, Clements was also inspired by a version she saw at Chichester Festival Theatre a few years back. “It’s a fun play to do,” she says, “and I thought it would fit very well into both Brighton Little Theatre and Brighton Open Air Theatre. “It’s a very suitable production for summer.”

In Goldsmith’s tale, wealthy countryman Mr Hardcastle plans to marry his daughter, Kate, to Marlow, the son of a well-off Londoner. But when Marlow and his sidekick Hastings makes a trip to see his future bride, Kate’s stepbrother Tony Lumpkin distracts the visiting party by sending them on a wild goose chase. Needless to say, chaos – and comedy – ensues.

Clements calls the play a “comedy of errors”, referencing Shakespeare’s early farce of the same name, and adds that the “subtext of it is relevant today”. “It deals with the upper classes and social status and how people from different walks of life communicate with one another. It’s about the importance of treating everybody the same regardless of their social status.”

In a sense that last line could also be applied to Brighton Little Theatre itself, which seeks to welcome any budding actors with open arms. Yet, as Clements says, the high standards the group have achieved must be maintained: “Everyone is welcome to come and have a go, but you end up with a strong and suitable cast if you select the best auditionees.”

The theatre is seeing a lot of newcomers come through their doors at the moment but can still lean on some recognised talents who have appeared in numerous BLT shows through the years.

The chairwoman says that acting provides an after work “release” for “All our actors are busy during the day so rehearsals can be a big ask, particularly when they’re doing three or four a week. You have to have a big passion for it.” Clements describes BLT as a “family” – one that more and more people have become familiar with as their profile continues to increase.

She says, “We always speak to people who say ‘I didn’t know the theatre was here’. That’s not a frustration, it makes me smile. We just say, ‘we’re here’.”

She Stoops to Conquer 

Brighton Little Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday, Brighton Open Air Theatre, July 27 to 30, For more information and tickets visit: brightonlittletheatre.com