It has long been accepted that Kirkintilloch Players came in to being in 1923, however recently it has been discovered that in fact it may well date back as far as 1908. A group called Kirkintilloch Players did exist between 1908 and 1911 and there were members in common with the Kirkintilloch Players that drew up a constitution in 1923. The lack of documentary evidence for the period 1912 to 1922 could in some part be due to the First World War. Let us however assume for now a starting date of 1923.
An advert in the local paper drew together a group of people interested in “the furtherance of Music and Drama” and Kirkintilloch Players was born. Kirkintilloch at that time had boats transporting coal along the canal, several busy foundries and at least one flourishing boat yard. Don’t get too nostalgic for the good old days because Prohibition had closed all the public houses!
The first scheduled play was to have been Our Boys but it was cancelled at the dress rehearsal because it was far from ready. Mock Trial by Jury was then selected and staged on 11th January 1924 after a supply of gas mantles had been purchased to ensure adequate lighting.
One of the early shows raised funds for the widows and orphans of the Redding (near Falkirk) Pit Disaster of 1923. And further fundraising saw a bed endowed in Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
Times have changed. A programme from 1933 shows that you could hire a cushion for two old pence and that the hall was “sprayed with Deodis antiseptic in the interest of public health”. Ladies were requested to remove their hats. Now we deal with Health and Safety issues and ask for mobile phones to be switched off! Is this progress?
Activities were suspended during the Second World War with our premises being used as an ARP post and the Town Hall being taken over by the Army. In 1945 it was back to business with The Nest Egg being performed in the Town Hall and then taken on tour to Airdrie and Lennox Castle to entertain the troops stationed there. In more recent years we have taken The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on tour to Berlin.
We have had several homes including one where Bonnie Prince Charlie is reputed to have spent the night but then he is reputed to have stayed in lots of places. We have faced many ups and downs over the years. Each time there has been a crisis affecting our premises the members have risen to the challenges, rolled up their sleeves and Kirkintilloch Players has come through stronger than ever. We are now (we hope) settled in our own 60 seat Turret Theatre in Eastside.
Each year we stage two full-length plays and a Youth production and enter both Adult and Youth SCDA Festivals. We enjoy the experience of performing in different venues and meeting people from other Drama Clubs. We welcome the opportunity to hear the opinion of professional adjudicators – although we don’t always agree with them! Our panto brings the Adult and Youth sections together in Lenzie Hall for nine performances selling nearly two thousand tickets.
We have had success in SCDA Festivals over the years reaching the Scottish Finals of both Adult and Youth sections on several occasions. Our proudest moment recently in the Youth section was winning the Scottish Finals in 2010 with Tick Tock. In 1997 we won the British Finals in Coleraine with The Dancing Fusilier, a new play written by one of our members. Cast, crew and supporters numbered over 60 and we even taught the Irish a thing or two about partying!
Our next production is The Yellow on the Broom in October and then we will start rehearsing for Aladdin, our pantomime to be staged in January. We currently have a small exhibition on The Old Kirk Museum where you can view some of our memorabilia.
Our youngest members are aged ten and our oldest over eighty with every decade in between being represented. We enjoy a variety of social events: lunches, bowling, curries, quiz nights, golf outings, theatre trips……
The members of Kirkintilloch Players believe that Amateur Drama is not really about winning cups it’s about working as a team, challenging yourselves, enjoying yourselves and entertaining others. We hope to do just that for many years to come.