In the Beginning!
By Founder Member Mrs Joanna Shipp
When I moved to Rangeworthy Court in 1957 it took me about 18 months to get my school running smoothly and then it was time to look around for something else to do and, of course, what else would it be but drama. The first friend I made in Rangeworthy was Marjorie Morris who was as enthusiastic and optimistic as I was about creating a drama group in this small scattered village.
Naturally, our first requirement was men (we hadn’t then heard of the Women’s Lib Movement). Fortunately we found Allan Haines, who would do all the lighting; I found Arthur Daws, who would stage manage; Allan found Jack Hardwicke, who would build the sets; manager Allan found Theo Gimbel to design and paint sets and to design the programme cover which is still in use today.
Marjorie became secretary, I became producer and then the whole thing snowballed from there.
Our first production was three one-act plays, and by the time this production went on, we must have had about 40 people involved – not at all bad for a start.
From the very beginning we had a wonderfully friendly atmosphere in the Court Players, and through all the trials and tribulations of the birth of a drama group we managed to preserve this highly important factor. I think, in fact, that apart from the very high standard the Court Players now present, their following is so because team-work and happy atmosphere has remained.
Our first production was very well received, and I remember the comment of the County drama Organiser at the Annual General Meeting that year: “Suddenly, over the horizon, in the very corner of the county, came a new rising star – The Court Players.”
The star went on rising to new heights and further popularity, with new faces, new ideas, new talents; ever daring, ever experimenting and, what’s more, ever succeeding.
It is with the greatest affection and pride that I proclaim to all that I was a founder-member of the Court Players.
Nearly 50 years later how grateful the present Court Players are to those enthusiastic founder members. The friendly atmosphere still remains and all are welcome.
At the present time the group is made up of enthusiasts of mixed ages and mixed abilities, all with the common interest – drama.
Over the years the word “drama” has been used in its loosest sense. They have presented pantomimes, thrillers, comedies, tragedies (some unintended!!) revues, musicals, medieval banquets, gipsy evenings, festival plays, even an open air pageant.
The writings of a wide cross-section of authors have been used – from as early as Chaucer and Shakespeare to modern day Ayckbourn and Stoppard.
Original works by members have also been staged and it is hoped in the future to cater for as wide a taste as possible.
Considering we are a group in the sticks we get really good audiences and we try to give the audiences real value for money.
The farce Chase Me Comrade was very popular and the players were invited to stage it at The Tivoli Theatre, Wimbourne, Dorset. Everyone was so excited to perform in a professional theatre.
Of course all the group's success does not come without hard work. As well as two meetings a week, members of the club's committee meet each month.
On top of its productions the group raise money for charities. Fund-raising can include theme nights with a meal and entertainment by the members.
The Memorial Hall, Rangeworthy, South Gloucestershire is the venue for the club's productions.
Tuesday evening - The Memorial Hall, Rangeworthy. Friday evening – The Village Hall, Wickwar