Originally formed in the 1930s as the Ashwell Players, the Ashwell Theatre Club is an amateur dramatics group based in Ashwell, Hertfordshire.
The Headmaster and Mistress of the then Merchant Taylors School, Mr and Mrs Whitby, founded the Ashwell Players although this was sadly disbanded in the 1950s.
On the 12th April 1976, the theatre group was reformed as the Ashwell Theatre Club by Kathy and Ken Hull, Marie and Pauline Whitby, Robin Lipscombe, Vicky Darlow and Jo Berry.
The first production, in 1976, was an Old Time Music Hall to celebrate the centennial year of Ashwell's Merchant Taylors School. The cast included members from the original 1930s Ashwell Players, such as Pauline and Marie Whitby and Peter Howes. Kathy Hull directed the evening's entertainment; the first of many directorial roles for her.
Since 1976, Ashwell Theatre Club has presented plays, pantomimes and revues. Today Ashwell Theatre Club is community theatre at its grass roots; local people putting on productions to entertain their community.
Amanda got involved with set design at the ATC in 2015 and loves nothing more than slapping a bit of paint around, hopefully in the right places. Previous productions have been 'An Evening at the Music Hall', and 'Freezin'. Last year she was asked to be treasurer and, after removing the thumb-screws (joke), thought it would be a fun thing to do.
Amanda has vowed to remain firmly behind the scenes!
Wendy joined Ashwell Theatre Club when she and her husband Graham moved to the village about ten years ago. Although Wendy a regular performer at school, she had no intention of returning to it afterwards. It was only after she joined the Committee and became Treasurer that she ended up with a part in the production. The rest, as they say, is history and she has thoroughly enjoyed being in a variety of plays, pantomimes and revues ever since.
Her roles have included Daphne in the murder mystery 'Over My Dead Body', a gothic Fairy Godmother in 'Cinders', a roving minstrel in 'Robin Hood', Linda in 'Ladies' Day' and 'Ladies Day Down Under' and one half of a pair of villains in 'Dick Whittington'.
In 2016 she played the role of Patch in 'Freezin' - The Story of the Snow Queen'.
Paula joined ATC in 2011 when she and her daughter volunteered to help backstage with the production of 'Aladdin'. Like many others they were coerced onto the stage with a few chorus roles, and before they knew it, they found themselves coming back for more.
Since then Paula has played a master villain in 'Dick Whittington' and a forensic scientist in 'Dig For The Diggers'. In 2015 Paula directed 'An Evening At The Music Hall' and in early 2016 she played Jack Frost in 'Freezin' - The Story of the Snow Queen'. The January 2018 panto production of 'Sleeping Beauty' was directed by Paula with assistance from Connie.
Jo got involved with the Theatre Club when her overly dramatic American husband signed up to be in the Panto and he didn't even know what a Panto was!
She enjoys sewing and gets to work with the talented seamstresses making costumes that are as over the top as possible. As she said, when else would she get the opportunity to dress her poor long suffering husband in a dress made from an American Flag when he played the Panto dame?!
She really enjoys the involvement in village theatre and would encourage others to come and join the group.
Diane joined ATC in 2015 within months of moving to Ashwell and was quickly put to work backstage where she prefers to be, developing props and set building. Diane has previously built sets and props for the Parish Players in Merton Park, London where she first got involved in local theatre productions once she was finally convinced she would not have to set foot onstage and/or sing publicly.
Diane's background in engineering and her love of power tools, paint, glitter and papier mache have found an outlet in a variety of productions including Aladdin and Freezin'.
Karen joined the Theatre Club in 2015 when she was asked to handle the costumes for “An Evening at the Music Hall”.
Since then she has been given the keys to the costume cupboard and has been involved in all productions since - - planning, sourcing and making costumes sometimes up to 50 for an individual production. She enjoys the creativity that goes into the role of adapting existing costumes as well as making new ones.
Alan became a member of the ATC in 2009 to manage the stage lighting and sound systems. He joined the Committee in 2019. Alan has recently finished the project to refurbish and update the electrical distribution and lighting system, with help from a professional experienced with London Theatres.
He first caught the stage lighting ‘spark’ at school over 50 years ago, where he set light to many school productions. He had retired from lighting to pursue a career in oil boiling, and was persuaded to return to the bright lights, perhaps appropriately for our production “Over My Dead Body”. He was delighted and surprised to see that ATC has some of the same tried and trusted lights from that school era!
He finds the role truly illuminating and feels very lucky that he can watch every dress rehearsal and performance from his luxury vantage point in the balcony.
We always welcome more helping hands to get things done.
If you would like to contribute to the future of Ashwell Theatre Club, there are many ways you can become involved;
being a committee member is just one of them.
If you think this could be you please follow the link GET INVOLVED