Every so often, you come across something that catches you unawares; like the surge stack I posted about yesterday, sometimes a little bit of lost history comes tumbling out of nowhere and raises a whole bunch of other questions.
So it is with this curious little artefact of Brownhills history. Until I happened upon this programme in a charity shop in Lichfield, I had no idea there was ever really any kind of amateur dramatic history in Brownhills. Yes, I’m aware of school productions, and of the wonderful Brownhills Musical Theatre Company, but I had no inkling that there was a longstanding and apparently successful am dram tradition here.
The program I bought for a pound dates from 1978. It’s celebrating the St. James Players 21st anniversary production of Pillar to Post. But this is more than a guide to the current production – there’s a potted history of the players, a list of all their members and participants over the years, photographs of the current cast, and even a list of all the productions they put on.
As usual with these sorts of books, the adverts are as interesting as anything. It’s like a roll-call of lost Brownhills shops. I wouldn’t have been long after this that all the local telephone numbers changed from four to six digits.
The group appears to have been resident in Brownhills Church Hall, and I wonder what became of them – a web search turns up nothing (although there are several groups worldwide of the same name). Did they fade away, give up, what? When was their last production? Where are these people now?
I recognise a few names. John Cross could possibly have been a local headmaster – I think of St. Johns or Castlefort, although I can’t remember. I’m fairly sure Frank Handley lived in Clayhanger and Worked at Edward Rose. There are familiar surnames – Creswell, Orgill, Heath, Bishop. I don’t recognise many of the productions, although there are some familiar old staples – See How They Run, An Inspector Calls.
One of the things that leaps out at me reading this is the peculiar, curious and slightly officious voice the history and listing of previous players is written in.
I’d love to know more. If you have any recollections, or know what became of the St. James Players, please do comment here or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com Cheers.