Acting has been part of life in Perranporth for many years. Before the Second World War the Women’s Institute held its One Act Play Festivals in the old wooden hall and of course Peter Bull, Robert Morley and Company held their Summer Season in that same hall.
After the end of the War in 1947 a group was formed calling itself the Perranporth Players and with help from the Women’s Institute produced its first three act play “Charity Begins”. From there was no looking back. Elsie Beard was the producer and was very firm. There was much competition for parts and if you were likely to miss a rehearsal you were not cast. The hall was heated with a “Tortoise Stove” which we lit and dealt with ourselves. The sets, and they were extraordinarily good, had to be built and erected in the weekend before the play. There was no room for the work to be done beforehand.
At that time we put on two plays a year, in May and December and often a One Act play for the festival in February. Peter Bull, Robert Morley and company had by this time made a name for themselves on the London stage and for some time the ‘Guildhall Players’ came for the Summer Season. There was always a full house for every one of our plays, sometimes people sat on the window sills at the back of the hall (what price fire precautions?)! And we had a very large membership.
In 1957 the Memorial Hall was opened and our first play was ‘Tobias and the Angel’. This was wonderful. We had our own Green Room, and room under the stage to store props. Entrances, to both sides of the stage were provided so that we did not have to go out in the wet to get from one side of the stage to the other.
Our plays were sometimes entered in the One Act and Three Act Festivals, In the latter we won prizes for ‘Watch it Sailor’, ‘The Chalk Garden’, ‘The Happy Marriage’, and ‘Waters Of The Moon’. We went onto the next stage of the One Act Festival for ‘Come into the Garden Maud’, ‘The Proposal’ and ‘The Trysting Place’.
Every year we held a very popular fancy dress party and won several prizes with our entries in the carnival.
In the 1960’s we went through a very difficult time. Television had taken over. We had trouble finding a cast as well as an audience, but Sheila and Charles Tyler came back to the village so we had a ‘Man’ and were able to produce ‘A Letter From The General’ and so we were back in business.
In 1966 as we no longer had a professional group doing the Summer Season, John Baker suggested that we re-enacted ‘The House by the Lake’ once a week throughout August, for the visitors. This proved to be so popular that thereafter we produced a separate play for the summer and played to full houses. In fact sometimes we had to turn people away, it is now our main source of income.
As recalled by Elizabeth Jones Immediate Past-President of Perranporth Players