The Woodhouse Players made their debut in the Autumn of 1983 at St Margaretís Church, Woodhouse Road, Leytonstone, taking the name of a long defunct drama group that had previously performed there in the 1950s.
The driving force behind the formation of the Players was Friar Ivor Moody, then curate at St Margaretís. He was keen that the group be part of the local community, and not just a church based group, and twenty years later he would be pleased to see that the Players have a wide membership and audience from across the whole of East London, and Essex. Waltham Forest Arts Council, and in particular its long serving Chair, Vi Gosling (for many years our much loved President) actively supported the establishment of an amateur drama group in Leytonstone and offered generous financial assistance for its first production, Once in a Blue Moon.
The Woodhouse Players first decade saw remarkable development - it became the only group performing regularly in the Leytonstone area, with single Autumn productions at St Margaretís, including such classics of the British Theatre as Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie and Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward. The second decade built on this, with a substantial increase in the number and quality of plays performed, both for our Leytonstone audience and in competition with other groups from the area in drama festivals. Increasingly, these have been original plays specifically written for or by the group.
In 1988 the Players decided to enter the Waltham Forest Drama Festival for the first time. The play was called Festival Nightmare, aptly, as the group came last! However, the same year saw the one-play a year pattern abandoned as one act and full length plays were added into the schedule. This increased activity meant that we had to move from St Margaretís, and were fortunate enough to able to move into our current venue, the Welsh Church, in time for our first Christmas pantomime in 1989. In the last few years, the Players have flourished, winning many awards at festivals, and performing an increasingly wide variety of plays.
In 2003, our twentieth anniversary year, we won the best original play award at both local festivals. We also made another innovation for the group - two shows being produced in October: Alan Ayckbournís Woman In Mind and Dracula - The Vampire Strikes Back, which transformed the Welsh Church Hall into a studio space for the first time. 2004 and 2005 also saw a set of awards picked up in Waltham Forest and Havering festivals, our first full-length Shakespeare, and our first production at a professional external venue: Jekyll and Hyde - Make Mine A Double, our most ambitious and technically challenging show so far.
In 2006 we're picking up the pace even more as we move to a calendar of 6 productions yearly.
As the Woodhouse Players move into their third decade, we hope to continue to be able to provide quality drama for everyone and hope that as we go forward, you will join us.
History text by David Worsfold, Phil Braithwaite, Thos Ribbits and Tim Saward
See also our full list of productions since 1983