HISTORY OF THE BIRCHINGTON GUILD OF PLAYERS

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The Revd. Granville SharpThe Guild was founded in 1936 by the Vicar of Birchington, the Rev. Granville Sharp, together with his churchwardens.  The group was originally known as the All Saints Guild of Players and the main aim was the production of religious drama.

The first production in 1936 was "The Garden", which was performed in the old Church House.

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The Guilds First Production in 1936

This first production was followed in 1937 by a production of "The Man in the Bowler Hat".  These were the first of many successful productions during those early years.

The Good Friday Passion play for 1937 was "By the Cross and Passion".

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The 1937 Passion Play

In 1945, the Guild performed its first pantomime "Cinderella", written and directed by the Curate, David Reeves, with the Vicar playing the Dame.  This began an unbroken sequence of annual pantomimes which is still carrying on today.

In 1963 the Guild performed a summer revue, "Holiday Capers" at the Winter Gardens in Margate, which continued annually for thirteen years in all.

All Saints was dropped from the name in 1964 since when the name has been the Birchington Guild of Players.

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In 1971, the Guild also took their popular pantomime to Margate and played to full houses every Christmas for the next thirteen years.

In 1970, the Guild lost its regular home, when the Church House was demolished and productions were switched to King Ethelbert's School and the Sea-Bathing Hospital, but in 1974, the newly completed Village Centre saw the return of the Guild to its Birchington roots with a production of "My Three Angels".

Another highlight from the history of the Guild, has been the summer "outdoor" productions that are staged in the gardens at Quex Park and at Salmestone Grange in Margate.  Notable outdoor productions include, "A Mid-Summer Nights Dream" (Produced 3 times over the years), "Alice in Wonderland", "Wind in the Willows" (twice), "1066 and All That" and "The Canterbury Tales".  The Guild also hold the distinction of having produced the only outdoor presentation of "Peter Pan" complete with full flying effects (1980).

Today, the Guild of Players continues to produce shows that entertain the people of Thanet in general and Birchington in particular.  It is good to think that amateur theatre does have a place in our modern society that has been so spoon fed with hi-tech entertainment.  Those of us who are involved today in the activities of the Guild are fully aware of the legacy that we carry forward and are justly proud of our "origins".

Birchington Guild of Players - Chairmen

The Rev. N M Granville Sharp 1936 - 1955

The Rev. Christopher Donaldson 1955 - 1963

Ronald Winter 1963 - 1966

Anthony (Timber) Wood 1966 - 1969

Marian Evans 1969 - 1971

Anthony (Timber) Wood 1971 - 2000

Geoffrey Kirk 2000 - 2007

Richard Taylor 2007 - 2014