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Great things from little acorns grow……and thus it was with Players
Originally founded in the 1920s,and for want of a home of its own, Players Dramatic Society first began by performing in Cheadle Hulme Parish Hall and even in members’ homes.
However it had always harboured a dream of having its own theatre and to this end, in 1947, purchased an old army hut cum army depot in Sharston. It was dismantled and put it into storage until such time as they could find a suitable site for its re-erection.Several years went by, with various sites coming under consideration but all were rejected for one reason or another.
Until one day they came upon its current site which was bought and where the hut was erected in 1950. This hut was optimistically named The Playhouse.
This basic wooden structure was used for meetings and socials but plays were still presented in the Parish Hall,until in typical Players fashion, a bunch of enthusiastic members rolled up their sleeves and set to work,constructing a stage and fairly primitive dressing room facilities. Such dressing room facilities involved the use of a caravan parked behind the theatre and accessed through an open window on the back wall! Not exactly the height of luxury but at last, Players had a theatre they could call their own!
The first three-act play presented at the Playhouse was Count Your Blessings in 1955. This was a great step forward and all well and good but the building was still only viewed as a temporary construction by the Council. The only solution to combat the constant threat of demolition hanging over it, was to make the building into a permanent fixture by putting a brick shell around the wooden structure. Thus began another building project. This time one which included the provision of such theatrical mod cons as a lighting and sound perch. Making the Green Room into a permanent fixture. Plus further improving the foyer and updating the kitchen and toilets facilities.
The new theatre, looking externally very much like it does today, opened in 1965.
In the ensuing years, the Society has continued to improve its both onstage and offstage facilities- further developing the foyer, kitchen and toilets and additionally constructing the lounge and bar at the front of the theatre. Next came the building dubbed ‘The Tower’ at the rear of the theatre, invaluable for storing scenery, props etc. Provision of new toilets and a washroom for the actors followed.. The car park too was surfaced and at last we were able to drive in without putting our car’s suspension at serious risk.
The seating too has undergone a transformation. Up until the early 1980, it had been composed of stacking chairs which had to be clipped together, numbered and laid out on the stillages before each production.. These stillages were a set of boxes which created different seating levels which had to be removed and stacked under a tarpaulin in the corner of the car park after each play. An ardous task. Hardly surprising then that the Committee’s proposal to improve the auditorium, with a proper stepped floor and real tip-up theatre seating along with central heating, carpets and other creature comforts was warmly approved. So plans were drawn up, together with a budget, and at the end of the 1984-85 season work commenced and carried on at a frantic pace throughout the summer.
The new theatre inside, more or less as we know it today, was unveiled in 1985.
To Present Day
The work of course goes on. The bar has now moved upstairs and we have a large bar area to accommodate our social events. We also have a coffee lounge downstairs for our patrons also providing extra space for meetings. The kitchen too has a new range and fitted out to cope with catering needs. In addition, a stairlift has been installed plus a disabled toilet. A small band of inhouse workers rallied round and redecorated the foyer relatively recently too, giving the premises a brand new lick of paint and smart new look. In short, thanks to the constant achievements of its loyal members-past and present- we have a theatre to be proud of and long may it flourish!
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