Lowestoft Players 50th Anniversary: The beginnings of the Players
- Credit: Archant
The longevity of the Lowestoft Players is virtually unrivalled when it comes to amateur dramatics.
Anyone who has lived in and around the seaside town for any period of time is likely to be relatively familiar with, or has at least heard about their work.
The same can perhaps not be said of the company that we would now regard as the Players' immediate parent: the Lowestoft Operatic and Dramatic Society, or 'Ops and Drams.'
At the turn of the 19th century, the presence of a Naval Survey Vessel HMS Hearty in the town - with an enthusiastic and talented concert party aboard - uncovered a liking for amateur dramatics in the town.
The vessel's subsequent departure led to a number of local attempts to replace them, and eventually the decision was made to form Ops and Drams.
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Mr TE Thirtle, then mayor of the town, acted as first Chairman of the society and after their first production, 'Belle of New York' (1911), it was reported that 'many prominent townsmen took part in this performance, including Councillor A. Overy.'
Although activities were suspended during the First World War, the company was revived again in 1920.
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Surprisingly, despite having put on 38 full shows in its first 25 years, they ended productions abruptly in 1957 after 46 years.
Ten years passed before a rousing call to arms on the letters page of the Lowestoft Journal on August 11 1967 from Len Butler, who had been a member of the old Ops and Drams.
'Where are the Amateurs?', he asked, and the response was immediate and positive.
At a well-attended meeting at the Crown Hotel on September 21, it was decided to go ahead under the new name of the 'Lowestoft Players' and Jack Overy, who had chaired that first meeting, would continue as chairman.
So, the Players were off and running - not quite on the tiny bank balance of seven shillings and sixpence (37.5p) that has become the stuff of legend, but actually with the £65 left over from the Ops and Drams Society 10 years earlier.