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A Brief History of the Players in Hurst

The Hurstpierpoint Players, and the Hurstpierpoint community, are very fortunate in having their own theatre. Very few amateur societies can lay claim to premises of their own, having to rely on village halls and makeshift stages, not many of which can boast the facilities of a proper theatre.

When the Hurstpierpoint Players was formed in 1936, at another of Hurst's meeting places - The New Inn - they had to use whatever premises were available for rehearsals and performances. Their first production was BIRD IN HAND in 1937, and the venue was the Drill Hall.

After 1937, most performances took place in the Parish Room. In 1961 the Players mounted the first of their special summer productions, mainly of Shakespeare, in marquees erected in gardens around Hurstpierpoint.

In 1976 The Players bought their own premises, then a general store called Graveleys. The building dates from the 1820's and was originally a non-conformist chapel, but during its lifetime was also a school, and, between the wars, Robins Wine Store. A great deal of work was put into the project by members and friends which resulted in the Players being able to put on their first play in their new theatre - The Players Theatre - in January, 1977

Then

And now

The Theatre Today

The Hurstpierpoint Players is a registered charity, and as with all charities, it relies heavily on fund-raising activities and the donations of benefactors to maintain its building and produce high quality shows. Mounting a production, particularly one requiring a complicated set, lighting and costumes - not to mention fees for performing rights - is becoming increasingly expensive, and the sale of tickets cannot always be enough to cover production costs as well as proper maintenance of the theatre.

Almost all the work on the building, excepting major structural work, is done by members of the Hurstpierpoint Players, who seem to be able to turn their hand to anything from carpet laying, plumbing, electrics, and decorating, to design and construction of sets and making costumes and props. In the 'Great Storm' of October 1987 the Players Theatre lost half its roof and quick-thinking members managed to buy up the last local stocks of tarpaulin to keep out the weather. This enabled the curtain to go on up on time for the October production - three days later!

In 2019 the building has undergone a major refurbishment, updating the auditorium and air-conditioning system.

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