Elmwood Players - 75 Years of Theatre
This year we are celebrating 75 years of being part of the Christchurch Community Theatre scene. Keep an eye out for the official celebrations in October. More details to come.
In 1998 we celebrated our big Five-Oh. In the programme for Amadeus, our 50th Jubilee Production, Marilyn Ollett wrote the following article outlining our history up to that point.
50 years of Elmwood Players
This year, Elmwood Players is celebrating 50 years of community theatre.
It all began in the garage of Alex Henderson in 1948. A few friends got together for play readings and from it grew Elmwood Players. Things progressed swiftly from play readings to productions and a property was bought in Fulton Ave to provide a performance venue. Seating only 74, it had a delightful intimacy and, of course, the company could often boast of a full house. Many a meaty drama, madcap comedy and chirpy children’s play was enjoyed there.
But it had its disadvantages – not least plumbing that could totally destroy a dramatic pause if the backstage loo was flushed during a show! It was a very old building and it became obvious that Elmwood Players could no longer sustain the upkeep and maintenance costs. The closing of the Playhouse in 1994 was a sad time for the Players and many of the “old timers” couldn’t bring themselves to attend the clear out garage sale of props and wardrobe or the final party.
The opportunity arose to join forces with Elmwood School, in building a multi-purpose community auditorium. The sale of the old Playhouse, standing on prime real estate, bought us our “stake” in the building you now see. In the interim period, with the Auditorium not yet built, Elmwood Players were, once again, back to being based in a garage (actually, several – we still had a lot of gear to store.) We fully expected to be in recession during that year but we somehow managed three productions in alternative venues. After all, the show must go on.
Many thought the loss of the Playhouse would be the death of Elmwood Players, but since moving into the Auditorium, we have gone from strength to strength hand have rebuilt a solid, active, membership and are attracting increasing audience numbers.
The Auditorium presents different opportunities and challenges for productions and set design. Greater seating capacity means that plays with higher production costs can be financially viable to stage, yet there is the flexibility to reduce down to a more intimate theatre style.
A reunion of ex-members is being held on 3 October to mark our 50th birthday. Many will look back at the past productions, the parties and the good times they had. A walk round to the site of the old Elmwood Playhouse, now boasting two town houses, will surely bring back many a happy memory.
But we, at Elmwood Players, look to the future, to further exploring the potential of this interesting venue, to continue to grow and learn and to provide top quality theatre to the people of Christchurch.
Posters & Pics
Each week we'll be adding more posters and photos from past productions so keep an eye out for your favourites