Nantwich Players are still going strong after 90 years
- Credit: Archant
They celebrated their 90th anniversary last year and there are no signs of them slowing down. Well, why would you when you have a fantastic community group such as the Nantwich Players, who keep on going strength to strength each year.
With a membership of around 150 people of all ages, the players stage six full-length plays for eight nights plus a youth production for four nights annually. But this year, they’re trying something a bit different.
‘We must be crackers! We are adding five new plays to be performed this year, three which will be studio shows and two radio productions,’ said Bethany Froud, marketing manager and member of the Nantwich Players. She joined three years ago, but has always enjoyed performing in amateur dramatics.
‘They are literally just being introduced now; the first studio production will be in June. The difference between the two is that a play on the main stage will have a full set, costumes and be more of a well known production – the studio is a black box with minimal props and will be modern pieces.’
The decision to launch these new formats is an opportunity for the players to explore different writers, as well as attracting new audiences and members as the productions will be more edgy.
‘There’s nowhere around here doing studio pieces, you would have to travel to Manchester or Macclesfield,’ said Bethany. ‘There are some phenomenally talented people around here and we just want to showcase as many as possible in different ways.’
The players do everything themselves within the theatre, which they own themselves. From making the costumes, props and set (which are all built on site by members) to controlling the lighting and manning the bar, it’s a real team effort. Once a Mini was even driven on stage as a prop through the side doors, and a stream with real running water was crafted – showing there’s nothing the members aren’t willing to use or do to make their production a success.
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The actual stage area is an intimate affair, the actors don’t need microphones and the audience can almost feel a part of it too – being so close to the stage. This part of the building dates back to 1724, when it was a Quaker meeting house.
‘It’s lovely to be able to have kept the building going. Who knows, without the theatre being here, it may have become ruined and unused,’ said Bethany. The rest of the building has been improved and developed over the years, including in 2017 the purchase of the building next door which enabled the theatre to extend its foyer area.
‘You don’t have to act to be a member, we are always crying out for more people to join whether it’s technical or cleaning,’ said Bethany. ‘Some members have now gone onto become working professionals in the industry, including the West End and on cruise ships. It’s all about supporting home grown talent.’
‘I am really pleased to be chair of such a fantastic group of people, who are passionate about putting on performances for the community,’ added Jeremy Acklam, who has been chairman since 2001. ‘The theatre is something for the whole community to enjoy and we are keen to add value to Nantwich for as long as we can continue to do so.’