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Evolution and longevity of theatre company celebrated in new book

PUBLISHED: 11:24 11 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:24 11 April 2018

A newly-published book documents the 50-year journey of the Lowestoft Players. Picture: Courtesy of Lowestoft Players

A newly-published book documents the 50-year journey of the Lowestoft Players. Picture: Courtesy of Lowestoft Players

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A book that celebrates 50 years of a successful amateur dramatics society has been published.

Jack Overy, the first Lowestoft Players chairman and founding member. Picture: Courtesy of Bob DicksonJack Overy, the first Lowestoft Players chairman and founding member. Picture: Courtesy of Bob Dickson

Written by historian Bob Dickson, ‘The Lowestoft Players at 50’ documents how a group starting with an initial fund of £65 became an award-winning and technically-adept band of performers.

Over the past few months, the Lowestoft Journal has been working with the author to produce excerpts summarising the evolution of the Players, and now readers can explore the full story.

The Players' first ever musical at the Sparrows Nest was 'The Boy Friend', performed in May 1970. Courtesy of Bob DicksonThe Players' first ever musical at the Sparrows Nest was 'The Boy Friend', performed in May 1970. Courtesy of Bob Dickson

“It took a good deal of determination, natural ingenuity, and theatrical talent for the Players to persist and evolve over their half-century,” said Mr Dickson.

“The book provides plenty of evidence for that and for the fun that the Players were having as they evolved in capability.

Albert Catchpole who, along with his wife Hilda, permitted the Players to transform their family's old net store on Stradbroke Road into a new home. Picture: Courtesy of Bob DicksonAlbert Catchpole who, along with his wife Hilda, permitted the Players to transform their family's old net store on Stradbroke Road into a new home. Picture: Courtesy of Bob Dickson

“What is less expected - but becomes very clear as the book develops - is the crucial part played by ‘the helpfulness of others’, which from time to time has arrived to save the company’s bacon or to help them over an obstacle or two.”

During their earliest days, the Players were without a permanent home and rehearsed at Roman Hill Infants School. Workshop space was also an issue and St John’s Church Hall was used for props storage.

Panto auditions taking place at the Players' first home on Stradbroke Road. Picture: Courtesy of Bob DicksonPanto auditions taking place at the Players' first home on Stradbroke Road. Picture: Courtesy of Bob Dickson

However, when an old net store on Stradbroke Road became surplus to requirements, the society began using the premises as their rehearsal hall, workshop and costume store, and it remained their home for 32 years.

Over the years, the Players have performed countless glittering productions at the Sparrows Nest, the Marina Theatre and, having saved the necessary funds for its purchase, the Fisherman’s Bethel on Battery Green which the group now calls home.

The council and Players inspect the decaying Marina building in 1985. Picture: Courtesy of Bob DicksonThe council and Players inspect the decaying Marina building in 1985. Picture: Courtesy of Bob Dickson

Mr Dickson and the Lowestoft Players would like to express their thanks to all those who have enabled the company to continue thriving over the course of five decades.

• ‘The Lowestoft Players at 50’ will be launched at the Bethel Theatre from 6.30pm on Friday, April 20, where you can purchase a copy and enter a lottery that is raising money towards resurfacing at the theatre.

The Lowestoft Players' performance of Sister Act. Picture: Courtesy of Lowestoft PlayersThe Lowestoft Players' performance of Sister Act. Picture: Courtesy of Lowestoft Players

• Anyone looking to order a book can email Bob Dickson at bobandd@btinternet.com, providing a name and address for postage. The Marina Theatre is also selling the book via its box office.

There have been a host of heroes and villains over the years. Picture: Harriet ChambersThere have been a host of heroes and villains over the years. Picture: Harriet Chambers

'Annie' was performed by the Players in 2014. Picture: Courtesy of Lowestoft Players'Annie' was performed by the Players in 2014. Picture: Courtesy of Lowestoft Players

The Players performed their pantomime version of Cinderella at Lowestoft's Marina Theatre in January 2018. Picture: Courtesy of James AitkinThe Players performed their pantomime version of Cinderella at Lowestoft's Marina Theatre in January 2018. Picture: Courtesy of James Aitkin

'The Lowestoft Players at 50' celebrates the ever-growing success of the amateur dramatics society. Picture: Bob Dickson'The Lowestoft Players at 50' celebrates the ever-growing success of the amateur dramatics society. Picture: Bob Dickson

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