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Portsmouth Players return to the stage with an exciting new programme of shows

Author: Leah Holford Published: 5th August 2021 10:58
The Portsmouth Players was founded in 1926 with its first production of ‘The Gondoliers' being performed in 1927. Starting off as a small company with shows performed at South Parade Pier it soon began holding performances at The Kings Theatre and then finally got its own venue, The Barn, in Milton which holds 80-100 people.

 "We're a really good society to be in and community theatre in the city is very important. We're very proud and pleased to have what we've got venue-wise because it's given us something slightly different to what other groups have,' chairman, Jack Edwards explains.

With rules and restrictions being different for amateurs compared to professionals during the pandemic, the difficult decision was made to close the Players temporarily. As a non-profit organisation, they wanted to preserve the money they did have as the cost of one show losing money could cost the entire society.

After fundraising and being fortunate enough to receive council grants, the Players are coming out of the pandemic looking forward to being back out and performing for the public.

 "We pride ourselves on the show quality," Jack adds. "The sets and the costumes are West End standard, a lot of them actually coming from West End shows. And Portsmouth does produce great talent."

The Players currently have four shows on the calendar for this year. In September they have ‘Shirley Valentine', October will see ‘The Vicar of Dibley', November presents ‘All Together Now' and in December, just in time for Christmas, you can enjoy ‘Flint Street Nativity'. With all of these shows playing at The Barn, it will be almost like a fundraiser which will bring in some much-needed profit to help them bring their shows back to venues such as The Kings Theatre.

 

 

Jack is thankful for the support the Playrs received during lockdown,

"Our members have been absolutely fantastic. They've all paid their subs in the last eighteen months which is incredible. They didn't have to pay, with nothing to do and no shows happening, but everyone was so generous. We have a lot to thank the society members for."

The social side to The Portsmouth Players is considered just as important as coming to perform in the shows, with a lot of the members having been involved for many years, building strong relationships and lasting friendships which in turn promotes good mental health. It's also a great opportunity for those who may have dreamed of being a professional performer, or still do, to see what it's like and to have a taste of what it could be like.

The Portsmouth Players often uses professional directors, something that is quite rare in amateur groups, as well as using their own in-house team. The Portsmouth Players is made up of a good mix of amateurs, ex-professionals and those who simply enjoy being involved. But you don't have to be a performer to join The Portsmouth Players and they are always looking for people with an interest in helping out backstage and with costumes as well as running the canteen. Members pay just £60 per year to be in the company.

Currently, with no junior group, The Portsmouth Players is an eighteen and over society, but they hope to have another junior group again at some point which would cater for ages 11-18.

So if you want to get involved, head over to www.portsmouthplayers.co.uk or check out their Facebook Page on www.facebook.com/portsmouthplayers. As well as becoming a member, you can donate to the society, leave a legacy, become a sponsor or patron and purchase programme adverts, full details of which can be found on the website.

Photo of Jack Edwards courtesy of Paul Messer Photography 

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