HISTORY

In 1972, local Macedon resident Neville Thurgood, with the support of others including Fred Blake, David Reeves, Pat Royal and Pauline Garner, formed The Mount Players (TMP), with the specific intention of entering a play in the One Act Play Festival in Kyneton, with a play titled One Wedding, Two Brides. This was the start of what is now a vibrant community theatre, drawing talent and audience members from far outside of the Macedon Ranges.

 

The newly-formed theatre company continued to perform one-act plays, but it had no permanent home. In 1975, The Mount Players obtained a lease to occupy the old Macedon Presbyterian Church, adjacent to Jubilee Hall and convert it into a theatre. The church built in the early 1900's, was no longer in use. The last service had been held on October 1970 and it had been formally closed in October 1973. A grant of $8,000 was made by the State Ministry For The Arts towards the conversion.

 

Between 1975 and 1977, members of the company and numerous local businesses donated their time and goods to turn the church into a cosy, but tiny theatre, with a seating capacity of 50. During these years TMP also started performing full-length melodramas, written by Neville Thurgood, at other venues. Two of these were The Furtive Fortunes Of Fickle Fate and Further Furtive Fortunes Of Fickle Fate. 

 

In 1977 the original theatre was opened with the performance of The Golden Legion Of Cleaning Women.

Between 1978 and 1982 the company undertook a wider range of performances, including murder mysteries, comedies, musicals and pantomimes. One Act Play performances continued and were entered into festivals across the Victoria. Also, a group of members called the Daytime Players produced shows such as Aladdin, and Time and Space, written by Janet Slattery, a local Mt Macedon resident.

 

Other theatre companies also used the theatre, in particular, the Adelphi Players, a Melbourne based group who had no theatre of their own. Other groups that performed at the original theatre were the boys from Malmsbury Youth Training Centre, the Boy Scouts (with the Gang Show), and ACTS, a Christian theatre group.

 

With the tragedy of the Ash Wednesday fires in February 1983, the original theatre was destroyed, along with the homes of many of the members. Original memoirs, photographs and programs were also lost. Following the fires, initial efforts were put into assisting those who had lost their homes, and so the company started another period of being homeless and performing wherever appropriate to the type of production. These locations included the Mechanics Hall in Gisborne, the Arts Centre in Kyneton, Wooling Hill in New Gisborne, Gisborne Secondary College and the Macedon Family Hotel.

 

In 1985, the now vacant land was transferred to the ownership of the Shire of Gisborne and the Mount Players entered into a 21-year lease with the Shire as tenants of the land and any buildings.

 

In 1986, following a period of intensive fundraising, work began on the new Mountview Theatre.  A professional builder coordinated the rebuilding working part-time, and members assisted whenever possible in the more mundane work of digging holes, helping with concrete pours, assembling and erecting the framework, stacking and laying bricks, fixing weather-boards and many other tasks. In 1987 the company was greatly saddened by the deaths of the then President, Margaret Woods, and former Secretary and Life Member, Fred Blake.

 

As construction work proceeded it became clear that the cost of the new building exceeded the funds held by the company and in 1990 an agreement was entered into with the Shire of Gisborne whereby the Shire owned the property and assisted with the construction, while the Mount Players enjoyed exclusive occupancy of the theatre building and continued to maintain the building and manage its uses. The total money raised was a combination of insurance and donations, in particular from the Shire of Gisborne, as well as many amateur and some professional theatre groups all over Australia, who generously gave their takings from performances to the building fund.

 

In November 1990 the new Mountview Theatre was opened with the production Scrooge.

 

The period from 1991 has seen enormous growth in the company and in the breadth of shows performed. Today, there are four major productions each year, plus a One-Act Play Festival held at the theatre and the Youth Theatre mid-year Showcase and end-of-year production. Family involvement in TMP has been an important factor and it has been wonderful to see children grow into teenagers and beyond still maintaining their interest and commitment. In 2013, an extension to the original building was finished, providing new costume storage space (the Garner/Slattery Room) and a meeting room (the Vandervalk Room), both named after Life Members.

 

The Mount Players Youth Theatre was formed in 2007, offering weekly workshops in theatrecraft to Macedon Ranges youth aged 10 to 21. They have produced several shows, including Terry Prachett's Carpe Jugulum and Lords and Ladies, Seussical the Musical, and several showcases of shorter plays, some written by themselves.

For  a  list of all the productions performed over the past 46 years,
please click below.

© 2019 by THE MOUNT PLAYERS INC
 

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