The Edenbridge Players have a long established history in our community. As with so many local organisations they have had their ups and downs with the rise and fall in membership but the group are determined to continue their presence in Edenbridge. I caught up with Ulli Lukas who has been a member for nearly 13 years, to find out what she loves about being part of the Edenbridge Players.
What made you join the Players and what was your first play?
Through our children, my husband and I became involved in their drama groups, helping out backstage. My first part was in the Diary of Anne Frank where I played ‘Miep’, the Dutch woman who helped the Frank family.
What previous experience in amateur dramatics did you have before joining?
I had no real acting experience at all, just a great love for theatre, literature and all other arts and always felt I would love to be on stage.
You not only act but you direct too. What do you enjoy about directing?
For me, directing is like painting a picture. You read a ‘story’ and a picture develops in your mind, with atmosphere, mood and emotion. When I direct, the actors and I always take time to analyse everyone’s characters and understand why they behave like they do. It is never just a case of learning lines and going on stage.
How many members are there currently and what are the age ranges of the members?
At present we have around 20 active members ranging from their 20s to 70s. Not everyone acts so as a small group it can be difficult to cast plays. We very much welcome new members of any age. To be a member and be involved is quite a commitment but of course there are so many jobs to be filled in every production that there is a place for everybody, whether acting, backstage or just making the tea. We always need people who are good with a hammer, drill or screwdriver.
Is the group happy for inexperienced people to join and what help might they get with improving their performing skills?
Absolutely, even now in our group we have members who do not want to act and just support us with their skills in set building, painting, costume sourcing, make-up and hair. The jobs are endless and nobody will be turned away if they are serious about joining and contributing in some way. We also go on outings and theatre visits and when the opportunity arises go to open days to learn about acting, directing, theatre staging, stage building etc. There are also many social events organised throughout the year.
What sort of commitment do members require if they are involved in the productions?
Rehearsals usually last for about 3 months, starting at twice a week and then on Sundays as well about 4 weeks before the performance to build the set. The commitment is quite intense and a director will expect that whoever takes on a part, comes to rehearsals and learns lines and helps as much as possible. The rewards are great – when the audience applauses, your heart flow over with happiness whether you were on stage, back stage or front of house – you are part of the team that has created it.
What do you personally get out of being a part of such a long established group in the local area?
I love the fact that we are providing entertainment for people. It is a great feeling to see people leave our shows with a smile. Many of the eldery audience might not have a chance to go to the theatres in London (I’m not saying we are giving ‘West End performances’) so we try to give a professional performance within our own facilities.
At our dress rehearsals we invite residents from some of the local care homes and supported living organisations and often this is their only chance to see any sort of show. I truly believe that we are providing a service to our community.
What are the key times of year for the players and are you able to give us a clue as to what the next performance will be?
We regularly produce two plays each year, a Spring play and an Autumn play. This year’s Autumn play is ‘Cranford’, a beautiful costume drama and was a popular series on TV not long ago. Caroline Newman is the director and I am very much hoping that I will get a part in this play, I always wanted to wear a ‘Mop Cap’.
If you would like to find out more about your local amatuer dramatics group, Edenbridge Players, contact Kirsty Hintze on 07749 932 269 or visit the website at www.edenbridgeplayers.co.uk