Norma DunbarA 'true-pro' is perhaps how one might characterise Norma. Rarely has she been seriously 'at rest' during her long and diverse career covering over 50 years and, she quips, "I'm still available!"
She has a compulsion for live theatre; this is where she has proven her talents in dance, acting and singing.
What has driven her? Sheer determination: a true love of Theatre: a discerning understanding and belief in her abilities: solid reliability for directors and producers as well as, of course, being able to make a sustainable income. She has earned her plaudits and deserves recognition as a stalwart of theatres around the country and London 's West End. Many young performers are just not able to find the reserves to tackle the rigours, disappointments and disciplines of such a demanding profession; they fall-out or, in many cases, marry and have children thus compromising their careers. Not so Norma, although she did marry without having children. I remember taking a coach-load of students to see Norma perform at the Player's Theatre, underneath the arches, at Charing Cross. She performed Daisy, along with other music-hall songs; she had made Daisy her own. With her typically earnest yet hilarious delivery Norma had attracted a large following of fans who regularly visited the Players' just to hear her. When Norma was invited to play Nancy in the school's production of Oliver! there rumbled the expected voices of disbelief – "At her age!" This same debate raged more recently when Andrew Lloyd-Webber was scouting for a Nancy, through a television talent show, for a new London production of Oliver!. The discontents somewhat lost the battle in their search for reality, after all, the desire for reality in Theatre is not always appropriate. As in Norma's example, emphasis on the ability to portray the character reliably, confidently and sympathetically discounted the age problem. I know the students valued their experience of working with a 'natural' Nancy and exacting performer. 'As Long as He Needs Me' was uncompromising and the microphone was switched off!
I am Cynthia Norma Dunbar-Poole (my dear friend Paul calls me Poolie-Poohs!) and was a student at Charters Towers from 1st October, 1950 to 8th November, 1953 – this term was cut short for reasons described later. Miss Bush really took me on with a view to my becoming a teacher so I crammed a lot of exams into my almost 3 years – Advanced this and Advanced that: she also wanted me to re-sit my School Certificate which I'd failed twice before coming to Bush. She did remark how much easier it was for an older person to acquire knowledge and retain it. I was 18 when I joined the school!
I was appointed Headgirl in 1951. Can't think why though secretly I thought it may be because Miss Bush liked introducing me to parents with, "This is our Headgirl – Dunbar-Poole”, never Norma! Unbeknown to her I'm likely to be the first Headgirl to slide down the front stairs with the Juniors on a tea tray!
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