93 YEARS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
93 years in the spotlight, and still going strong –
Wanstead Players is reputed to be the oldest amateur drama group in the East London and Essex.
Staging three productions a year at the Kenneth More Theatre, Wanstead Players strives to provide an eclectic mix of plays to suit all audiences.
Its membership ranges from teenagers to senior citizens allowing directors to choose the most appropriate actors for the required roles. Members come from far and wide, and the Company boasts its own backstage crew of creative set designers, lighting and sound engineers, many of whom also take their turn on stage.
IN THE BEGINNING, In 1923, Edgar Bishop brought together a group of six friends to create a band of keen amateur thespians. Membership grew by “invitation” only at a time when audiences wore formal evening dress to the theatre.
1929 was a memorable year when the Company first appeared as THE WANSTEAD PLAYERS with “And So To Bed” - It was sold out a week before the play opened.
At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the gay unreality of the amateur stage gave way to the grim reality of war. It was not until 1947 that the Wanstead Players reappeared at the Grove Hall, where it had previously performed and was its home for some 23 years.
TODAY the Kenneth More theatre in Ilford provides the Wanstead Players with all that a modern day theatre has to offer and since 1976 has given this successful amateur company the opportunity to stage many ambitious plays.
Running its plays back to back, over the years the curtain has gone up on tragedies, farces, dramas, comedies and musicals by such authors as Agatha Christie, Alan Aykbourne as well as Shakespeare, Dickens, Ibsen, Priestley, Wilde, Shaw, Orton, Godber, Noel Coward; all have been produced by a talented group of actors and technicians.
Having recently brought the curtain down on “A Celebration of One Act Plays -'In By The Half' and 'Hidden Meanings'”, the company is preparing for its next production - Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" in November.
Over the years, the Wanstead Players has introduced eager amateurs to tread the boards, fired their enthusiasm and provided the grounding that led some to greater heights - Louise Jameson, Don Henderson, Tony Robinson and also Ricky Groves who started his career in Eastenders as Gary - to name but a few.
And long may Wanstead Players continue to entertain the local community with a wide range of plays.
who would like to join the Wanstead Players, or would like to be included
on the mailing list, or who is interested in more information, please
contact the Wanstead Players' Chair:
If you’d like to be added to the mailing list to get advance notice of performances and events, or perhaps you have a friend who might like to be ‘in the know’, please email:
Wansteadplayers@gmail.com with “Mailing list” as the subject, along with the relevant details.
You can also follow the Wanstead Players on Facebook and Twitter.