The Wisbech Players came into being in 1954 through the break up of the Wisbech Little Theatre Drama Group which was run by Mrs Sheila Chesters, who also ran a successful childrens choir. She wished to extend her choir work and so gave her blessing to the players to form their own group.
At that time an annual carol festival was held at the Empire theatre in Wisbech and the new drama group was asked to perform the nativity play. They didn’t have a title at the time, someone suggested ‘The Wisbech Players’ and this was agreed! Leading lights were Mrs Day Shuker (artistic design) and Mr Ray Dant (producer, actor).
The new society’s first production was A HUNDRED YEARS OLD, by S & J Alvarez Quintero, transalated from the Spanish by H & H Granville-Barker. This took place at the then Womens Institure hall in Wisbech (long gone).
Once established, the society put on two productions in most years for the next forty years or so and were well supported. As new alternative entertainment came to town audiences fell and productions were reduced to one per year.
The society’s first production at the Angles theatre was PYGMALIAN in 1979. There was then a break for a few years with performances at the Queens’s school and the Isle college, returning to the Angles in 1988 with THE UNEXPECTED GUEST.
Most societies go through difficult periods and this was the case for the players during the late 1990s. The corner was turned in 1999 when the society employed a professional director and produced ARSENIC AND OLD LACE to the delight of appreciative audiences.
For their 50th anniversary in 2004 the society put on a very ambitious production of Joan Littlewood’s splendid OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR, using the services of professional director Ray Jeffery, well known to local audiences through his involvement with the town’s other long established group, the Wisbech Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (WAODS).
The last few years have seen the group thrive. Autumn productions at the town’s historic little theatre being a highlight of the season. So much so that a spring production was re-introduced in 2007 and so we are back to two shows per year and intend to continue this as long as we are able to sell enough seats to remain financially viable.