SHOWS: Help keep theatre alive

The St George’s Community Players staged their regular November production – in this instance, four one-act plays by different authors, including one by Eileen Clark, a member of the group and a local resident.

All four were light hearted offerings – a contemporary comedy set at a quiz night for drama groups, a whimsical ghost story, and two farcical comedies which parodied Jane Austin novels and country-house murder mysteries, which had the audiences laughing throughout – all for the very modest cost of £6 per ticket. The production was given a very good critical review.

Rather inexplicably, audience numbers were somewhat down on past years, as we generally play to fairly full houses. Perhaps a night of one-act plays was not to everyone’s taste, or perhaps folk are just very busy this close to Christmas, but it was interesting to talk to staff at The Chantry TIC, who noted ticket sales for all events booked through them were depressed this year.

The situation is particularly ironic because I recently read the article in the latest edition of “Inside Morpeth”, which includes a sketch of what the proposed Arts/Culture Centre might look like if we ever get one built in Morpeth, but which poses the question whether or not such a facility would be supported?

Sadly, on our recent experience, and that of other organisations in the town who have presented a range of entertainments over the past few weeks, I think the answer is probably “no”, and so I find myself questioning the whole idea of building such a costly facility which could well prove to be poorly supported.

Societies such as ours have, in the past, relied very heavily on our loyal and long-established Patrons to put “Bums on seats”. We still do, and are very grateful for their continued support, but it is a sad, yet inevitable, fact that “Natural wastage” means that we are now losing patrons faster than we can recruit them, despite concerted efforts over the past few years to attract further patronage.

So, here is my plea (and my challenge) to the folk of Morpeth – and beyond. Help keep local theatre (and other community events) alive. Why not come along to our next production (Thursday, Cember 17, Saturday, March 19)? It is a full-length play, set in Yorkshire, entitled Happy Campers, and is a really good comedy. Better still – why not become a patron (or persuade your friends to become patrons) of the Community Players – it costs you nothing extra and guarantees you early booking of your preferred seats for our two productions each year, before tickets go on general sale.

If you are interested, please contact our patrons’ secretary Ms Sheila Green on 01670 514228.

Jared Johnson

Chairman, St George’s Community Players