AVIVA WISEMAN (1920-2002)
Vice-President of The Young Theatre (at Beaconsfield) 1997-2002
Born in Jerusalem in 1920, Aviva's passion for the theatre began at the age of three when she appeared as Mustard Seed in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Thence via school and university productions to the Playgoers of Amersham for whom her first role was as her husband Mchael's mother! She was in Michael, the first of the Beaconsfield New Theatre Group plays and subsequently appeared in many others from The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Waters of the Moon, and The Eagle Has Two Heads to Queen Mary in Crown Matrimonial; whilst also doing her fair share of stage-managing, scene-painting and prop management.
And it was with BNTG where, in 1968, she met Ian who, two years later, invited her to join him in the exciting project of forming The Young Theatre at Beaconsfield, and together they saw it grow rapidly to become an important part of the Beaconsfield theatrical scene, with not only a well deserved reputation for fine presentations and a centre for training in all aspects of stage craft, but particularly for imbuing in young people a love of the theatre and the team spirit which was, and is, such a factor in the success of every venture. Aviva served on the Executive Committee as Deputy Group Director during those early days; and for many years co-directed and directed - particularly the highly sucessful Our Town (1974) & They Came To A City (1977); she also worked behind the scenes; or appeared on stage - including a particularly memorable Mrs. Squeers, playing opposite Ian, in the musical Smike in 1981, and an outstanding performance as Mother Superior in Agnes of God in 1995. Her contribution to the life and success of The Young Theatre has been immeasurable and she is sorely missed.
Other members of the family have also been very much involved with The Young Theatre at Beaconsfield. Felicity was Coral one of the daughters in the group's first production The Sea-King's Daughter; played Delphine in The Deserted House in 1973 - which was directed by her brother Martin ! - and was also in the award winning one-act play The Cloak; as well as serving on the Executive Committee in a number of roles. Sister Liz played one of Aslan's lions in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe - whilst Martin, in addition to his directing, was actively involved in backstage work and training, particularly with stage lighting.
Aviva had an enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable interest in the works of William Shakespeare, and in 1990 she became Artistic Director of the Clivedon National Trust Shakespeare Festival. Unsurprisingly, she had also already been heavily involved with The Chiltern Shakespeare Company, which she and her husband, Michael, had established in 1987. Not only did she direct a number of very successful productions for them at the Open-Air Theatre at Hall Barn, Beaconsfield - the last of which was "Twelfth Night" in 1999 which she directed jointly with Ian Wallace - but she also was an invaluable administrator for the company; and since 1997 she had been their Vice-President.