Dorothy Miller came to Kintbury in 1975 to live with her son-in-law and daughter, Alan and Margaret Barr, who had just moved to the village. Dorothy was 78 at the time she came to the village, and had been involved with theatre since she was 16, teaching concert and opera singing, and understudying many of the great names of the previous fifty years, amongst them Dame Sybil Thorndike. In 1947, she founded the Caterham Players, putting on six plays a year, mostly produced by Dorothy herself. Before she left Caterham, she instigated the conversion of an old school into a theatre and old people’s day centre (which was named after her). It was finally opened in November 1977, by the then Secretary of State for Social Services – David Ennals.
Kintbury already had a five year old Drama Group – St. Mary’s Drama Group – which was started and run by the then Vicar’s wife, Christine Millard. This Group concentrated mainly on short plays (many written by Christine), for festivals, including that at Maidenhead and revues and pantomimes for the village. In early 1976, it was agreed that another group, to perform mainly straight plays, should be formed under the auspices of Dorothy – and so Kintbury Players was born!
The first play performed by Kintbury Players, “Lloyd George Knew My Father”, was performed in the autumn of 1976 and was followed quickly by “Night Must Fall” in early 1977. The Queen’s Jubilee Revue in the Summer, and the 1977 Autumn production of “Barefoot in the Park”, ensured the Kintbury Players became firmly established in Village life. Since then, numerous plays, many revues, a number of productions in collaboration with St. Mary’s Drama Group and several “murder mystery” evenings (written by members of the Group) have been presented. The village looks forward to the Spring and Autumn productions every year (a mixture of comedies, farces and straight plays) knowing they are guaranteed an entertaining evening!. Audience numbers are almost invariably good, in particular Saturday nights which sell out well in advance of the performance. In 1998 a short play, “The Proposal”, by Chekhov was entered into the HADCAF festival for the first time, too much acclaim. Since ’98 several short plays have been presented to enthusiastic HADCAF audiences.
Support for The Kintbury Players in the Village is excellent. The village Butchers shop invariably acts as our “box office” for each production and storage for the large stock of scenery, costumes, props, lighting fixtures etc. has been provided at St. Casian’s for many years. In the run up to a production, you will find posters dotted around the Village and our Parish Magazine, The Fisherman, always gives us good pre and post performance coverage. Membership numbers have fluctuated over the years and currently we have an enthusiastic membership with a good mix in every age group from mid 20’s upwards (upwards a long way!). Our Spring 2011 production raised funds for and involved members of St Mary’s School PTA and Inkpen Primary PSA. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own particular skill to the Group – a drama group is not just for thespians who wish to be on stage – Directors, Producers, Writers, Musicians, lighting and sound operators, expert Stage Managers and Stage Hands, dressmakers and painters/set builders to name but some of the skills required to stage a production.
Dorothy died in 1986 but Kintbury Players have endeavored to stick with her ideals, in spirit as well as practice.
We are fortunate to have the Coronation Hall, as the venue for plays and rehearsal. Many improvements have been financed by the drama groups, a new easily erected stage extension being the most recent capital investment.
For the future, Kintbury Players will continue to plan to stage two plays a year. Our reputation is for light comedies, revues and farces but there will be more serious plays included from time to time as some members wish to get their teeth into something a bit meatier! There is plenty of talent within the group and we are confident that there will be a steady flow of new talent emerging in the coming years which will assure the future of Kintbury Players for some time