ST Mark’s Players are a vibrant community-minded drama group who donate more than £1,000 a year to local good causes.
They were formed in 1988 by a small group from St Mark’s church in Longwood with the intention of entertaining the community and having a bit of fun at the same time.
Since then they have grown and grown and now involve around 50 adults and 20 children – and some of the original cast are still regular performers.
But the group is eager to bring youngsters on and the junior group for children aged eight and over was started in 2009 by a couple of the adult players. This group runs weekly and is so busy it now has a waiting list. The children perform a show every summer and wow over 150 people with their talents.
Lisa Wood from the players said: “St Mark’s Players are a bit of a family affair and many of us have partners and children involved and grandchildren on the waiting list too.’’
The group began at St Mark’s Parish Centre on a makeshift stage which had to be put up each year but relocated to the refurbished Longwood Mechanics Hall which has a superb stage.
Lisa added: “We perform an annual pantomime every February which is enjoyed by over 750 people and is always a sell out. We are very proud that we are able to keep our prices low and attract many local families to the pantos.
“We have a dedicated team of stage crew who work tirelessly throughout the year planning, drawing, painting and creating props. We also have a small team of volunteers who support us with tea and coffee during panto week.
“The cast provide most of their costumes and work wonders with charity shop bargains. These are often adapted and trimmed to make outstanding costumes.’’
During the summer months they perform a show titled LAFTA’S – Longwood’s Answer to Film and Television Awards! It’s an interesting mix of drama, song and dance.
The Players will stage a big musical celebration in St Mark’s church to mark their 25th anniversary next year.
Lisa added: “We are a not for profit organisation and to that end we make regular donations to St Mark’s Church and Longwood Mechanics Hall.
“We have also supported one of our junior group to go to Sweden on a scout Jamboree and supported one of our members to do voluntary work in Kenya in a children’s orphanage.’’