Bath Unity Players were ‘born’ in 1944, probably the oldest small drama group in the City.
A group of like-minded people, having just taken part in the Co-op Centenary pageant in Bath, decided that they would like to carry on as ‘Thespians’, and the Bath Unity Players were formed.
Initially they were helped by the CRS Member Relations – their Community Arm. They supplied and funded rehearsal spaces for several years, and ‘Roneo’d’ (photocopying predecessor!) the early programmes. For many years the Players had the use of the old Co-op shop in Coronation Avenue for rehearsals and storage. Many’s the time rehearsals were interrupted for strategic buckets to be placed under leaking ceilings !
After ‘going it’ alone, the Players used various buildings in Combe Down, St Marks in Widcombe and even a Junior School. They are now settled at St Barnabas Church Hall – thanks to the Church Committee – and meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm
The Players have performed hundreds of plays and pantomimes over the 70 years they have been in existence, performing in such diverse places as Weston Church Rooms, and a Spiegel Tent in Green Park !!!
For many years they used the College Theatre in town, a quirky venue with a spiral staircase leading to a triangular stage! Although designed and built by Avon for the Community, in May 1995 the College decided to close it and turn it into a gym and fitness centre. Bath Unity Players were the last Group to perform there, ironically with a play called ‘PLAY ON’ ! Members from all the amateur groups in Bath were invited to the last night, and afterwards a ‘wake’ was held, attended by Don Foster, MP for Bath.
Kingswood School offered their new purpose built theatre space, so the Players moved yet again. They are now settled at Kingswood, performing their annual pantomime every Christmas. In the summer, they take their annual play to the Rondo, in Larkhall. Also, every year, they put on a concert for their faithful Patrons.
They obviously have a wealth of stories about productions over the years, once it snowed during the week of the show, and many of the cast couldn’t get into Bath. As a result, several of the Principals were played by other members with scripts. I remember hearing of one show when the sound man connected the microphones using a wireless channel frequented by the local taxi firms. – “pick up from Green Park 8 pm” could be heard in the middle of the dialogue !!!!
The players have always been a very family oriented group, with Grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons, daughters and grandchildren very evident. With just a few exceptions, most members have at least one relation also in the Group.
Not only performing together, the Players go camping every year, and arrange walks and trips to the Theatre. In September we are going to London, to take the younger members to see the musical WICKED. A charity is chosen each year, and a substantial amount of the raffle proceeds are given. Several of the members also take part in various charity events, like the Race for Life, and the Dorothy House Midnight Walk.
In this, their 70th year, they are hoping to celebrate in style. The pantomime is chosen – a traditional story – SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, and many more things are in the pipeline.
Tickets for the pantomime – which is December 17th. to 21st. can be pre-ordered before October 31st with a discount of £2 per ticket – normal prices £10 & £8 concessions
You can find out more on the website- www.bathunityplayers.co.uk