Colwall Players - The Beginnings
During 1986 Steve Hockett began to put together the idea of starting a drama group in Colwall. He had learnt that there had been a group some years before, but nothing in recent years - the nearest groups then being in Ledbury, West Malvern, Malvern Wells and of course Malvern itself, but nothing in Colwall.
He placed some posters around the village and, in February 1987, arranged a meeting in the old Church Room, at which many who are still Colwall Players members were present. A small committee was elected and a group set up to formulate a constitution.
For the first production, it was decided to present Playgoers, a one-act piece by Arthur Pinero, to be performed in the Church Room in July of that year. (Being a Victorian drama and out of copyright there were no royalties to be paid - we had no funds at that time).
Looking back it is hard to imagine how seven characters, a table, two chairs, a sofa and a fireplace (where the prompt sat) plus other props, managed to fit on that small stage, but somehow they did! (The size of the original Church Room stage can still be made out if you look closely at the present one, in what is now the much improved and renamed Village Hall.) There were no wings and the curtains (what there were of them) were pulled by someone standing in the corridor stage left! It was impossible to see the stage from there and it was either a matter of a series of people passing the message, or pot luck in getting the timing right! (Interstingly, we discovered one or two old props underneath the original stage, indicating that drama productions had indeed taken place some time earlier in the Village.)
Fund raising to finance this new venture began with things such as car boot sales and coffee mornings at the home of Jack and Connie Fairey, who were stalwart supporters of (and performers with) the Society from the beginning. Our first 'Twelfth Night' party was also held at the home of Jack and Connie. (This is still an annual celebration though now held in a larger venue!)
In 1988 Steve Hockett and Angela Meredith started the Young Colwall Players, for children from the age of seven years upwards. Together with them we performed outdoors at Colwall Green Primary School Summer Fayre and also at Coddington Fete. Our first live outdoor performance was Punch and Judy with Jack and Connie as Punch and Judy! We were invited to perform at these outdoor venues for several years running and also took part in the annual Christmas Crackers (a seasonal selection of items performed in the Church Room by various village groups).
Our next main production followed in the autumn of 1988 with The House on the Cliff - a murder mystery. Steve decided to extend the front of the stage with rostra, and together with some extremely heavy flats kindly given to us by Upton Pepperpot Players, our next play was presented .
At the beginning of 1989 we performed three one-act plays, which involved the use of some rather complicated sound effects. Later that year however, the Church Room was closed for modernisation and expansion. Deprived of our usual venue, we decided to do the morality play Everyman in St James Church Colwall, which fortuitously coincided with the opening of the renovated Colwall Ale House (see about us page).
In 1990 we gave performances at Colwall Primary School and St Katherine's Hall, Ledbury, which we think of as our first tour!
To celebrate the opening of the newly extended and modernised Village Hall in 1991 we performed The Wind in the Willows, "in the round", with a cast of fifty-one - our largest to date!
These were the tentative beginnings of the Colwall Players and as they say, 'the rest is history'; nearly thirty years later we're still going strong.