I joined the Players in 2008, and straightaway began rehearsing for a live performance of ‘The War of The Worlds’ radio show. I had enquired at a timely moment as the main production had just been cast, and there was a smaller show running alongside it which the Players were looking to stage. I had been looking for a way to maintain my love of theatre as a hobby; I studied A Level Drama and Theatre Studies but had not carried this on to university. When I arrived for my first rehearsal with the Players, I received a very warm welcome and it was fantastic to join a group that was so keen on having new members! This is a feature of the Players that I feel has always been the case and the consistent new cast members in productions is great evidence of it.
I really enjoyed the performance of ‘The War of the Worlds’ as it was a great way to build up my confidence in performing again, get to know members of the group and also watch the main production come together. Performing in a smaller show offered a unique view into the main production process (as we rehearsed at the same time and were able to have a few sneak peaks!) and was great for learning more about the rehearsal stages, how the production comes together during show week, and everything that’s involved.
After ‘The War of the Worlds’, I prompted for the October show, ‘London Suite’. Since then, I have prompted, acted, directed, ran our Box Office, designed promotional material and even ran the sound desk for one of our small scale shows… Sometimes in a show I did several of those at once! This is of the many reasons I love being with the Players; there are so many different things you can do in a production. If you’re an absolute beginner with an interest, one of the cast or crew are always happy to show you the ropes. One such example for me was completely unrelated the to productions we stage; in 2012 I was voted in as Secretary to the Players Committee. I was a complete newcomer to the role, but again I had a huge source of support in my fellow committee members and longstanding members of the Players. This support continued to the first production I directed; I had a fantastic mix of existing and new members performing, and even members not involved in the production were ready and willing to help out where they could.
As I have stayed with the Players, I have seen the group develop in new directions with different events becoming established, and it has been amazing to see new members coming up with some fantastic ideas. Marie, who was a new member during the production I directed, came up with a ‘mini-show’ idea at The Hob in Forest Hill, which was a great way to attract new members without the pressure of a huge production, but also for existing Players to try out something new. We’ve had storytelling, homegrown monologues, and retelling of classic stories in these shows and it’s a wonderful way to see the talents of our group. We were even asked this Christmas to host a show at The Honor Oak (an amazing local sponsor), which featured a modern version of ‘A Christmas Carol’. The Honor Oak have also been great in supporting us as they have been our venue for play readings, where we read as a group from scripts, swapping around roles. These are often plays that are being considered for our forthcoming productions, so give the director an idea of what works, but are also open to anyone who is interested in the group.
I am constantly impressed by the amazing things the Players do, the new ideas that are formed and the talents of our members. I love being a part of this group, and I never thought when I joined seven years ago that I would have been able to do as much as I have! Everything I’ve been able to do in the group has been possible through the support and friendliness of my fellow members. I would encourage anyone who is interested in getting in touch, be that in directing, acting or something else behind the scenes. We’d love to have you!