Brian Frederick Brooks
(1944 – 2021)

Tread the Boards Theatre Group was founded in Newport Pagnell in 1986 by a small group of enthusiasts including Brian Brooks. Over the intervening 35 years Brian was often chairman of the Board of Trustees and helped steer not only many productions but also moves around Milton Keynes as circumstances dictated – rehearsal and performance spaces kept being sold out from under us!

Although other founding members moved away Brian remained the one constant from the group’s inception and even when he eventually retired to Shropshire with his patient other half Kathy he still paid his subscription and maintained the website.

Some of our long-standing members pay their individual tributes to Brian – without whom the group would simply not exist.

Brian Frederick Brooks
Brian Frederick Brooks

“One Monday evening many years ago, at a TTB workshop session, we decided to have readings of various members’ favourite poems. Brian chose an obviously much-loved Victorian nonsense poem: “The Dong with The Luminous Nose”, by Edward Lear. When Brian read out the title there were sniggers from some of the younger men in the ‘audience’. At every reiteration of the word ‘dong’ the laughter grew louder - they seemed to think it had some other meaning than what Lear had intended!

Undiscouraged, although plainly annoyed, Brian continued to give an excellent and heartfelt rendition of the poem - all 100-odd lines of it. Those that had laughed began to feel a bit foolish and at the end of the poem there was rapturous applause. This little episode illustrates to me Brian’s sheer determination to tell a story no matter what - a determination and professionalism much in evidence in his many directed works.” Mike Ames

“Brian was a very private man but was always happy to share his love of theatre. As a founder member of TTB, he was passionate and knowledgeable about every aspect for a show – set building, sound, lighting, stage management – the list goes on. Like so many, he enjoyed being on stage best but also liked to direct. We all knew there would be at least one moment during rehearsal when he would lose the plot and have a ‘serious rant’ but luckily, it never lasted very long. He was a keen photographer and I’ve lost count of the number of times he shot the publicity photos, always with the ‘proper’ set up. He also created and distributed the Director’s guide to encourage more people to direct and if that wasn’t enough, he created and maintained the website, thanks to his background in IT. He was much more protective over the website and less willing to share with others to help maintain it though! It’s thanks to Brian that TTB has endured, with the philosophy that all can take part and have fun without a clique that is often found with other groups.” Alex Tsang

Brian Frederick Brooks
Brian Frederick Brooks

“Brian was a founding member of TTB, and until he moved away from Milton Keynes in 2017 he was a stalwart member of the group. Through acting, directing, set building and committee membership he gave an immense amount of time and commitment to the group’s success. As an actor he took character development seriously and always remembered his lines – though he was mischievously given to throwing in the odd ad-lib in a final performance! As a director he had a clear vision of what he wanted in a production, but was generous in listening to actors’ suggestions.

Brian could come across as fairly serious but he had a great sense of humour. One of the first plays I took part in was Ayckbourn’s Round and Round the Garden in which Brian had a scene where he and another actor (Chris Sims) had to each set up deckchairs. On the first attempt at rehearsal they were reduced to hysterical laughter because they couldn’t work out how to put up the deckchairs....and every time they reached that scene they simply dissolved into laughter. On the actual production nights they did that scene firmly not looking at each other so as not to catch each other’s eye and start giggling!

In contrast in TTB’s production of Much Ado About Nothing Brian played Leonato, and the scene between him and Hero his daughter (Becky Walters) where she has been falsely accused, was so emotional that we were moved to tears. Brian really was an excellent actor and asset to Tread the Boards. He was also a good friend who is greatly missed.” Hilary Morris

“In the Agatha Christie mystery The Hollow Brian played my husband and in one scene I had to feed him a couple of chocolates from a box of luscious cream centres. On the evening of dress rehearsal I swapped the soft-centres for toffees rendering Brian speechless with his teeth welded together. Despite my promise not to repeat this mischievous prank, Brian was understandably wary for each performance but the audience would have been none the wiser. It is a production I remember fondly for the rapport we built as “husband and wife” and for his wise guidance to those less well steeped in theatre lore.” Shirley Jones

Brian Frederick Brooks

Tread the Boards

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