Golden year for Ewhurst Players

Round & About

Simon Fraser takes us on a 50-year journey with the Ewhurst Players from Home is the Hunted to The Nine Tailors

For those of you who subscribe to the Ewhurst Players’ newsletter, you’ll know the Ewhurst Players are 50 years old this year. For those who don’t know us, here’s our story…

Mike Fanya and Barrie Heathcote met in 1973 when they were involved in a Liberal Party fundraising concert. In conversation, they discovered a mutual interest in starting the Ewhurst Players up again. The Players up again. The Players had sadly disbanded in about 1969.

The village shop let them put a note in the newspapers inviting anyone interested to attend a meeting in the Ewhurst Cricket Pavilion on a cold, foggy November night. Seventeen people turned up, with a further 10 expressing an interest. By the end of the evening, the Ewhurst Players were resurrected, with Mike as chairman, Barrie as secretary, Jerry Day as Treasurer, and Victoria Helstrip and Tish Nelson as committee members. In the bank account was the princely sum of £40 inherited from the previous group – about £500 in today’s money!

The first production in May 1974 comprised two one-act plays, Home is the Hunted and The Happy Journey. The plays proved to be a great success and the Surrey Advertiser reported: “It was good to see such an enthusiastic group back in business.” The group then moved on, performing The Happiest Days of Your Life and, in early 1975, their first pantomime, Mother Goose.

The Players have never been a group to shy away from a challenge. Over the next 25 years, they tackled J.B. Priestley (When We Are Married), Tom Stoppard (The Real Inspector Hound), Robert Bolt (A Man for All Seasons), Alan Ayckbourn (Confusions and others), George Bernard Shaw (Pygmalion) and Arthur Miller (The Crucible), plus, of course, multiple pantomimes and anthologies.

Of course, nothing stands still in this world, so it’s reassuring to note that many of the names to be found in the simple A4-folded-to-A5 programmes of those first productions can still be found in the rather more sophisticated programmes of our most recent productions, including Disney’s Beauty and the Beast which played to eight sell-out crowds in February.

As for the rest of this celebratory year, the Players held a one-night-only 50th birthday party at the Village Hall in May, and, in late October, host a world premiere as they bring Dorothy L. Sayers’ classic murder mystery The Nine Tailors to the stage. Auditions will be on 20th and 23rd June in Ewhurst Village Hall and all the details can be found at