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Community theatre group marks five years

PUBLISHED: 08:00 29 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:11 01 August 2010

A DITCHINGHAM-based theatre group will soon be celebrating five years of bonding the rural community.

The Village Players, which attracts members from a variety of villages including Bungay, Ditchingham and Kirby Cane, was set up way back in 2005 with a view to bringing the community together.

A DITCHINGHAM-based theatre group will soon be celebrating five years of bonding the rural community.

The Village Players, which attracts members from a variety of villages including Bungay, Ditchingham and Kirby Cane, was set up way back in 2005 with a view to bringing the community together.

“There were lots of things like the WI and the bowls club in the area, but not much out there for young people and not much that brought in different types of people,” said the Village Players' co-producer Hazel Middlemiss, from Broome.

“The Players was for all ages and abilities, which has been the mantra throughout. It doesn't matter what your ability is, we can find something for you to do and grow your confidence.”

The group has since gone from strength to strength with a string of successful shows and now has members ranging from seven to people in their 60s.

In fact there are now more teenagers than adults, and the Players recently won a £417 grant from the Norfolk Youth Fund, which was applied for by a 17-year-old member of the group, Michael Niddrie-Webb.

Mr Niddrie-Webb, from Kirby Cane, is also the group's co-producer with Mrs Middlemiss.

Their fifth anniversary production, which plays at Ditchingham Village Hall on Friday and Saturday, February 12 and 13, will be Bad Day at Black Frog Creek, by John Gardiner and Fiz Coleman.

The comedy musical cowboy play, which includes zany characters such as No Nose Muldoon and Filthy Frank Chisholm, is a typically leftfield choice from The Players, who like to keep their audiences on their toes with slightly unusual performances.

“We don't look to being safe all the time,” said Mrs Middlemiss, who has also produced Robin Hood and the Singing Nun with the group. “But it's a good family fun show. We always try something different and explore a different avenue. I think it helps to keep the group going.”

The Players currently has 25 members, including people who work behind the scenes with lighting, sound or making tea, and the group also has their own band.

The numbers have in fact decreased this year, however, Mrs Middlemiss believes the quality has improved.

“I think we've matured as a group,” she said. “It's a smaller but more dedicated group, it's become more compact and everybody's more involved.”

Tickets for the Players' performances are annually sold by the Ditchingham village store, and this year the Duke of York pub will be offering a two-for-one deal for anyone who has bought a ticket for the play.

It is a great example of how the Players have brought together all aspects of the community. “It's people thinking about helping other people,” said Mrs Middlemiss. “It's great that we're getting support from businesses in the area.”

Tickets for the Village Players' performance of Bad Day at Black Frog Creek are £5 for adults and £2.50 for children under 12, available from the Ditchingham village stores.

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