Our next production will be “Mr Bennet’s Bride” by Emma Wood. This production will be co-directed by Paula Vickers and Zarina Belk at Grassington Town Hall on 19th, 20th and 21st October. As it is the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death, we thought this would be an appropriate comedy drama. Everyone knows the characters of 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'Mr Bennet's Bride' takes a closer look at two greatly loved characters, Mr and Mrs Bennet, examining a time earlier in their lives, twenty five years before the novel is set (play setting 1780s). It presents an account of how this ill matched couple met, and why they decided to marry - a decision at least one of them would repent for many years afterwards! A lovely comedy drama, with regency set and costumes, with characters all will enjoy, tickets will be on sale at Grassington Hub from mid September.
A healthy percentage of our current membership arrived on cue (for the most part) for the society’s AGM on 17th July. The committee, players and crew members were rewarded with an excellent evening buffet at The Old Hall in neighbouring Threshfield. President Joan Whitaker was encouraged by the support shown by members while Chairman Mary Wilkinson reviewed the success of the previous year and looked to the future with Treasurer Zarina Belk reporting a healthy picture. The existing committee were re-elected unanimously en-masse and their hard work was commended by all. Rehearsals are starting now for the autumn production, scheduled for October 19th-21st. Mr Bennet’s Bride by Emma Wood is a new play which is a prequel to Pride and Prejudice, chosen as this is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. With a strong cast directed by Paula Vickers and Zarina Belk, the production promises to be a great excuse to show off the skills of the Players costume and make-up team. We continue to appeal for new members, especially in the ‘middle’ age range 20-40 to appear on stage, and for new Directors. Anyone interested in joining the company should contact Mary Wilkinson on 01756 752740 or call informally to rehearsals to meet some of the company on Mondays or Thursdays at 7.30pm at The Devonshire Institute (Town Hall) in Grassington.
In a break with tradition we are opting out of a spring production this year and are instead holding a series of workshops.
Duncan Lewis, who has very kindly offered to run these workshops is a former professional theatre Stage Manager and Director. In the last 10 years Duncan has worked extensively throughout the UK and abroad and has worked in the West End. He ran London's leading lunchtime theatre company, has had various stints in repertory theatre and was right-hand man to Sir Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough for three years. A fantastic opportunity for performers of all abilities to meet and learn, you do not have to have any previous acting experience. Just come along and join us for an evening of fun and entertainment.
This years Old Time Music Hall evenings saw some truly consummate performances from the best of our local talent. Playing to full houses on both evenings the audience feedback we received was truly heartwarming and certainly made all the hard work worthwhile. We will of course be doing another Dickensian show next year. In the meantime we will be planning and making preparations for our Spring production. Watch this space for more information!
Today (9th June 2014) we said goodbye to a stalwart of the Players who died tragically young after a battle with cancer. She played to a full house for her final curtain call as we flocked in our droves to pay our respects. The show must go on, of course, but there will be one less star on the stage, in the wings, the dressing room, committee and the cake stall. We hope she will be our muse instead. God bless, Es, and thanks for all the laughs.
Following our world premiere amateur performance of the play Calendar Girls in August 2012, the Grassington Players girls handed over £5223.56 to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. All the cast 'girls' and five of the real Calendar Girls met on the village green at Threshfield for the official presentation of the funds raised. Chairman Sue Clement said “The cast and team wish to thank our hugely generous and supportive audiences who have made the donation possible. Now that all the production expenses have been paid and the figures calculated we are able to give this substantial sum to help the very cause that Tim Firth’s record-breaking play championed. We were delighted to have been the first amateurs to stage the play and have been able to lend our support – and props – to other groups all over the country who have also embraced the story.” The amount raised included not only profit from ticket sales and bucket collections at the performances themselves, but also the sale of a Christmas card, which reproduced the December scene depicted at the end of Act 1 of the play, with the girls gathered around the piano wearing only Christmas hats. The opening Gala night was generously sponsored by The Courtyard complex in Settle.
Grassington Players celebrated an impressive 90th birthday on January 11th, exactly 90 years to the day from the night when William Walker, ‘Convener’ held the first Grassington Players meeting following this announcement: “Will all persons interested in the formation of a Dramatic Society for Grassington and neighbourhood, having for its initial object the raising of funds for the new Town Hall Extension, by means of the production of Stage Plays, please attend an inauguration meeting to be held at Mrs.Yarker’s Tea Rooms, Station View, Threshfield, on Thursday, the 11th January 1923, at 8pm, when it is hoped to elect Officers and Committee and to enrol members willing to take part in the production of Stage Plays. The desirability of such a Society, has, it is believed, long been felt in the locality and a good attendance is requested.” About 40 budding local thespians answered that first call, and the Society was born as ‘The Grassington and District Amateur Dramatic Society’, becoming ‘Grassington Players’ in 1928. The first President was the Rector, the Revd. J A Leighton, and the annual subscription set at 5 shillings. The first general meeting the following month drew 45 members and friends. A play ‘The Younger Generation’ was proposed, but withdrawn on the grounds that it might have hurt the feelings of the devout, since it was considered a slight skit on chapel going, “out of deference to the Rector.” Instead, four one act plays were the Society’s first offering:- ‘Mother O’Pearl’, ‘No Servants’, ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ and ‘Should This Meet the Eye’. Now in 2012, the celebrations for the 90th birthday were held in the main town hall at the Devonshire Institute. The outside catering team from the award-winning Grassington House Hotel made sure the event went smoothly, with a fabulous menu featuring ham terrine, pheasant and chocolate tart. Past members came to reminisce with old friends and the cake was cut by oldest member, Nan Jowett (aged 88) with youngest member 16 year old Lottie Cuerden.
Grassington Players have nominated Parkinsons UK Skipton branch to receive their annual donation of monies raised at performances of Players on the Road and the Dickensian shows. A cheque of £438.46 was handed over this week by Chairwoman Sue Clement to Chairman Douglas Riddiough. The money will be used to go towards vital physiotherapy classes in Skipton which are provided by Parkisons UK for their Craven members. It will also be used to try to secure a district Parkinsons nurse for Craven. Mr Riddiough explained “We have been trying for 10 years to get a district Parkinsons nurse for our area, all the other areas in North Yorkshire have one but we still don’t. Talks have been going on and we are very close to securing one, but we do need all the help we can get to make this possible.” Parkinsons UK is solely reliant on donations to fund their work. The Skipton branch was started over 20 years ago and has 60 members who meet monthly. Next month’s meeting will be headed by The Research Department from Leeds and York. They also provide an information support worker (ISW) who can visit people in their homes and offer advice and help on a number of issues relating to Parkinsons. If anyone is interested in becoming a member or giving a donation, please contact Allan Cawood on Skipton (01756) 794077. Grassington Players Chairman Sue Clement said “It is great to think that by doing something that we enjoy and entertaining our audiences, we can also help make a difference to other people.”
In recognition of the posters and program printing work we have had done by John Mason Printers in Skipton, Matt Mason has planted a tree for us. The native hardwood tree is one of 400 planted in Embsay and the Players have received a certificate acknowledging our contribution to their environmentally friendly initiative.
BBC Look North were interested to come along to one of the February audition evenings for The Calendar Girls amateur premier later this year. You can read about it here. What a shame they managed to mis-spell Bery's surname.