award winning amateur theatre in cheshire – our history
In April 1950 a group of amateur actors put on “A PLAY FOR RONNIE” by Warren Chetham at the Poynton Social Centre.
The play was a success and as a result the WOODFORD COMMUNITY PLAYERS were officially formed and became a section of the proposed WOODFORD WAR MEMORIAL & COMMUNITY CENTRE. Two more productions were put on in Poynton and then on the 4th June 1953- a great day – the first production in our new home in WOODFORD.
The community centre, when it was first opened, consisted of one large hall with a small committee room behind one end which had to serve as the “dressing rooms” – a clothes line with a blanket hung over it separated the ladies from the gentlemen!
The “Stage” was a remarkably ingenious contraption which was literally folded up against the wall at the end of the hall. It was then covered by the stage curtains which more or less concealed it.
In 1959 the Small hall was added together with two dressing rooms—luxury indeed!
April 1972 saw the new permanent stage in use for the first time. Was it an omen perhaps? The play on this occasion was “Fools Rush In” by Kenneth Horne and on the Friday night there was a power cut!
There have been one or two “blips” over the years, but we have always survived and we have averaged just over two full length productions each year (120 to date).
There has been plenty of variety in the plays selected during the 57 years of our existence, from the sophisticated humour of Noel Coward’s “BLITHE SPIRIT” to the total farce of Ben Travers’ “ROOKERY NOOK”, from the costumed elegance of “CRANFORD” by Martyn Coleman (based on a novel by Mrs Gaskell) to the Victorian melodrama “GASLIGHT” by Patrick Hamilton, from the pure fantasy of “THE RINGS OF ZORGON” by Roger Holland and Paul Fletcher to the down-to-earth humour of “BILLY LIAR” by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall.
More recently (2003) saw the presentation of “GREAT EXPECTATIONS” by Charles Dickens, adapted by Barbara Field. This was a triumph for our Director, Meg Bray, and the whole team and resulted in the Greater Manchester Drama Federation awarding us the John Aldridge Trophy for “Adventure in Theatre”
Other triumphs have since came our way with Ged Murtagh’s production in 2005 of “WHEN WE ARE MARRIED” by J B Priestly. We were awarded “Best Play” by NODA North West and David Wilkinson was awarded “Best Supporting Actor” by NODA North West for his role as Bertie, Duke of York in our November 2006 production of CROWN MATRIMONIAL and our President Derek Blunt was awarded the Laurence Roberts Trophy for a lifetime achievement in amateur theatre. This award was presented to Derek at the Greater Manchester Drama Federation’s Awards evening in June 2007.
There have been 10 Pantomimes / Children’s Plays and several Music Halls and Revues, One –Act Plays and Play-Readings.
We have been very pleased over the last few years to welcome a number of new members (our latest generation) and we hope this trend will continue. The more members we have the greater the scope for finding plays with larger casts and varying the entertainment for our audiences.