Dramatis were a British synthpop band from the early 1980s. Chris Payne (vocals, keyboards), Rrussell Bell (guitars, keyboards), Cedric Sharpley (drums), Denis Haines (keyboards) were originally members of Gary Numan's backing band. They formed Dramatis following Numan's announced retirement in April 1981.
They released six singles and one album before disbanding in 1982. Two of their singles reached the UK Singles Chart: the 1981 single with Numan "Love Needs No Disguise" which reached number 33, and the 1982 single "I Can See Her Now" which reached number 57
Dramatis after Gary Numan quit touring his backing band got together to form Dramatis. A five piece electronic pop outfit, they tried to capture the Numan fans using techniques familiar to the Numan era. Labelled as New Romantics they embarked on a short tour of English clubs and colleges. Dramatis did have some chart success with "Love Needs No Disguise" but this was probably due to Numan singing on the single which he actually co-wrote with the band.
Although the budget and venues were very small, the challenge to put something on stage was still there.
The shows consisted of three painted drapes, 35mm slid projection and about forty par64 lanterns (36 on genie frames and 4 floor cans). The lighting, 35mm projection and painted drapes were supplied by John Copin and T.T.R Lighting of Nth London. "It had great satisfaction for me as it was my first free-lance job as a lighting designer and I was able to design the artwork for the drapes and later their single cover"
Dramatis live – at Sherry’s Discotheque Brighton 27 April 1982
It was exciting news that Dramatis; Gary Numan's accomplished backing band - were to play Sherry’s Discotheque in Brighton. Being an intimate venue, it was almost as strange as seeing Simple Minds at the ‘Top Rank’ club the year before!
Alongside Chris Payne, Cedric Sharpley and Denis Haines, a Blonde Rrussell Bell often took a powerful lead vocal, as they performed material from their popular album ‘For Future Reference’ such as: ‘No One lives For Ever’, ‘I can see her Now’, ‘Oh Twenty Twenty Five’ and ‘Ex Luna Scientia’.
The club venue was a bonus, it gave the audience space to dance, pop to the bar or just be up close and personal with the band. It also gave us a chance to climb up to the upper balcony area and view the show from directly above the band, where we were able to inspect, Alan’s lighting and rigging at close quarters, as well as studying Chris’s keyboard work!
It was strange seeing the guys performing as a group, it was to be a one off unique event, but good to see them obviously relaxed and enjoying the occasion.
The audience was full of fans sporting 1940’s influenced outfits complete with Fedora and crisp white shirts which were de-rigueur at the time, and influenced heavily by the Numan ‘Dance’ album images.
I am happy to say this was not the last time we saw the guys of Dramatis. They were in the future destined to support Numan on tour again, during one of his many reinventions, and I was also pleasantly surprised to see them as backing for Pete Burns as part of Dead or Alive in 1985.
I look back with great fondness to memories of that show, we felt very lucky to have the opportunity to say ‘hello’ to the band. Thanks again for the show, we had a great night!
By NU-GIRL (Sue Maynard)