Thame Players Theatre Company have been performing in the market town of Thame, Oxfordshire, for over 75 years. This week, a new book about the history of Thame Players, That’s Entertainment, is being released.
The book, written by Tony Long, an active member of Thame Players for nearly 40 years, covers the development of the group from its earliest beginnings to the present, over 75 years later. The first performance staged by the group under the name of Thame Players was in 1944. Throughout their history, Thame Players have become ever more active and ambitious, progressing from just one or two productions a year to five of their own productions a year today – more than 30 live performances. The theatre, in Nelson Street, is a former church hall, owned by Thame Players for over 40 years, and also the venue for some 30 visiting shows each year, including musical acts, comedy and drama. It also houses Thame’s only public cinema, run by Thame Cinema For All.
The book is illustrated with dozens of photographs from the earliest post-war performances through to Dick Whittington, the most recent pantomime, performed in December 2019. Incorporating a 1984 account of the first 40 years written by Bob Norman, That’s Entertainment tells the story of Thame Players from the post-war years, through the period when productions were staged in venues such as the Town Hall and the Wenman School (now Lord Williams’s), to the times when Thame Players first leased the Players Theatre in 1977 and subsequently acquired the freehold in 1997. The book also recounts the substantial development work since undertaken, including the installation of raked seating, a bar, a foyer, enlargement of the stage, improvement of lighting and technical facilities, and much else besides.
Tony Long said, ‘We are justly proud of our history and our theatre, which has developed into the modern, well-appointed venue we have today. The Players Theatre entertains over 10,000 people a year from the local area and farther afield and is also used by community groups. None of the achievements would have been possible without the generous support of our town and district councils, local businesses, grant bodies, members and friends of Thame Players, and the many volunteers who keep the theatre running. Having achieved this much in the first 75 years, we look forward to the continuing success of the group in future years’.
Cllr Ann Midwinter, Mayor of Thame, said, ‘Thame Players and the Players Theatre are together one of the jewels in our crown. They have occupied this position for over seventy years through their members’ dedication and hard work. Embracing the challenges of modern technology along the way, they continue to provide live entertainment in a well-equipped theatre that benefits the people of Thame and surrounding area. I am sure the live performing arts will prosper in our town for years to come, building on the foundations laid by Thame Players’.
That’s Entertainment will be on sale at £6.99 per copy through various retail outlets in Thame. For details of outlets stocking the book please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07881 688895.