All of the World is our Stage
We are a friendly and professional community theatre group based in Irchester, on the east of the county of Northamptonshire. Our membership represents a broad cross-section of society coming from all over the county; and our members range from young to old.
Objective, Purpose, Ethos
The group’s purpose is to further the work of the theatrical arts in the UK, in particular in Northamptonshire. We aim to provide access to the highest level of modern and pionering community theatre for our members and audiences – we are far from the traditional, run of the mill village amdram group.
Alongside staging shows and events, we like to offer social events to our members, their family and friends. These include after show parties, BBQs, themed parties, annual Christmas and Halloween parties and our Biannual Oscar Awards.
At Irchester Players our ethos is to provide our members with a second family and group of friends, and after a short time with the group members will certainly feel the strength of this ethos.
The group’s official date of creation is 28 January 1977, making the group over 40 years old. However, the society was actually active a few years before this official date.
Players first began as a play reading group in the early 1970s. A small group of members decided to move on to acting and set about staging shows and galas for the local community of Irchester and Wollaston – with a regular slot being dedicated to performing for a mother’s group. Between 1974 and 1975 this small group of actors was coached by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and went on to enter into various play competitions, at which a number of titles were won, including a county title in April 1975. Over this period the group was operating mainly from Wollaston Comprehensive School. Then in 1977 the group moved its focus to Irchester and staged its first ever pantomime, Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp.
The founder members of Irchester Players needed funds in order to continue to stage community productions for the public. This resulted in the members staging a range of fundraisers events for the youth of the village, a hairdressing demonstration by a leading stylist, a generation game event and car washing service. This was also an opportunity to gain new members of all ages and backgrounds.
In the 80’s Players performed a number of Old Time Variety shows. These successful shows led to a touring company, which visited local communities to perform snippets of the shows in hospitals, residential homes, schools and other community groups.
When Irchester Village Hall opened, Players had a home and went from strength to strength, performing over 50 shows and events in the venue for the community. In the 1990s, with Players becoming bigger and more active, the time came that the Village Hall could no longer accommodate Irchester Players alongside its other bookings – Players thus became homeless.
The members decided to move to Parsons Hall, Irchester. This community venue needed a lot of work after years of neglect. The members of Irchester Players pulled together to equip the building with electrics and the other infrastructure needed to stage shows. The first production performed at Parsons Hall was Anne of Green Gables, in October 1994. Irchester Players has now performed over 30 shows and events at the Hall, and has invested large amounts time, effort and resources into the venue to maintain the community asset as a place were live theatre can be staged.
Throughout its history, delivering access to live theatre, increasing participation in the performing arts and providing informal training and education for the community has been at the heart of what Irchester Players does. The members were fundamental in raising funds to build Irchester Village Hall and then to equip the stage within this community venue with curtains and lighting. The group’s archives contain numerous letters of thanks from a wide range of community groups that have interacted with Players through seeing the shows it produced, workshops it organised or assistance it has given. The members have also produced a number of community concerts to celebrate milestones for Irchester and Irchester Players; and it is a fixture in Irchester Gala.
In recent times, there has been an increased and renewed focus on community engagement and a push on community cohesion, linking with the local primary school, library, other local clubs (such as the bowls club), Irchester Brownies and the Irchester Historical Society to deliver a wider benefit to the community. Players have also established strong links with Irchester Parish Council and can count the Mayor of Wellingborough as one of our biggest fans. Strong and historic links also exist with Irchester Working Men’s Club.
Roll of Honours
The Committee may award special honours to member of the group and the public. Below are a list of recipients of such honours.
The following persons have been admitted as Fellow of Irchester Players
- Mr Keith Long, 2017
- Mrs Sue Long, 2017
- Mrs Sonia Rea, 2017
Honorary Life Members
The following persons have been admitted as Honorary Life Members of Irchester Players
- Ali Everitt, 2004
- Jill Heath, 2016
- Daniel Wainwright, 2016
The following awards have been made by the Committee to members due to their particular achievements or commitment to Irchester Players.
Heart of Irchester Players Award
- Ali Everitt, 2017
Dorothy Fletcher Memorial Cup
- Luke Campbell, James Campbell, Ali Everitt, Daniel Wainwright, 2017 – co-recipients
Outstanding Contribution Award
- Ali Everitt
- Jill Heath
- Daniel Wainwright
- James Campbell
- Luke Campbell
Player of the Year Award
- Amanda Campbell, 2016