The Western Players originated as "The Great Western Railway (Swindon) Mechanics Institute Amateur Theatrical Society" in the early 1900's (the first production was of "Checkmate" by A. Halliday on April 25th 1904) and celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2004. Although subsequent research has traced the group back even further to 1854
Today its aims are the same, namely to bring stage entertainment to the people of Swindon and to have fun doing it.
There are about 50 or so members ranging in age from teens to mid-eighties (the average is probably about the forties) and whilst many are very keen to perform on stage, there are those who are equally keen to provide the essential support of director, stage manager, backstage, lighting and other vital roles to ensure a performance takes place at the highest standard. Most members are willing to do any function to make the production successful, but no one is forced to do anything they would rather not. There is a very friendly co-operative feel to the whole group. What they all have in common is: the desire to do well, the ability to be team players and the love of the theatre. It puts the Western Players in the enviable position of having no prima donnas, no cliques, with everyone working to support productions, whether they are directing, on stage, backstage, front of house or publicity. It is a healthy society, still welcoming new members and mixing those with experience and those with youthful enthusiasm to best advantage for the society and for the audiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How can I get involved and join the Western Players?
A. Contact our Secretary, Tina Mawdsley, by email or phone 07929 645728 or see us on Facebook.
Q. Are there any age restrictions?
A. No, but there are fewer acting roles for those under 18 years of age.
Q. Is there a membership fee, and if so how much is it?
A. Yes, it is just £20 for actors and non-actors alike.
Q. Is previous experience necessary?
A. No, just enthusiasm and commitment.
Q. If I’m interested in getting involved but don’t want to go on stage how can I help?
A. Being on stage is the side the audience see, but there are many, equally important roles involved in creating a good production from building the set, the props, continuity etc and we welcome new members in all aspects of a production.
Q. When and where are the rehearsals held?
A. The group meets at 7.30 p.m. to around 10.00 p.m. at the Salvation Army Hall on Chapel Street in Gorse Hill, Swindon on Monday and Thursday evenings for rehearsals which run for around 10 - 12 weeks prior to a production.
Q. How many productions do you present annually?
A. We present three productions throughout the year. Each one runs for a period of one week which includes the technical and dress rehearsals.
Q. Do you hold any other activities?
A. A range of social events are organised.