ABOUT US...
A brief history of The Players
Fred Alcock in
It's Autumn Now (1939)

Amateur Players of Sherborne, known to members and friends as either APS or The Players, was founded in 1934, the year Fred B. Alcock and a group of fellow theatrical enthusiasts staged Tons of Money, produced by Maurice Welcher at the Carlton Theatre in Newland. This first production was a roaring success; it ran for a week, 1,850 people came to see it, and the princely sum of £101 was raised in aid of the Yeatman Hospital in Sherborne. Following that, The Players started to establish themselves with spectacular productions of No, No Nanette in 1935, Night Must Fall in 1937 and The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1938.

With the onset of war in 1939 it seemed that the group would have to disband, but then the officers of the Queens Royal Regiment, who were billeted in Sherborne, decided to stage a pantomime for their men. APS was asked to provide support, and members of the company soon found themselves rehearsing with 16 muscular fairies in hats, blonde ringlets, ballet skirts and army boots. From this cooperation developed the Wartime Variety Shows that were performed in the surrounding villages where soldiers were billeted. Many artistes from the armed services took part in these shows, including a certain Lance Bombardier Harry Secombe. And the arrival in the town of The Royal Navy Auxillary Hospital in 1942 and the Americans in 1944 provided yet more actors to entertain the troops.

Rehearsals for Tons of Money took place in a small room in Abbey Road and subsequent pre-war plays were rehearsed at The Mermaid Inn (now The Carpenters Arms) in Bristol Rd. Since WWII the Players have had several homes, a hall in George St, the former Eldridge Pope brewery at the top of Cheap St, the Crown Inn (now the Newell Restaurant) in Greenhill, Sherborne House and, again, The Mermaid. Since 2011, thanks to long-term member and benefactor Malcolm Cockburn, our home has been in what is now the Sherborne Studio Theatre.

The Carlton Theatre (which was also a cinema) closed in 1961 and was demolished in 1989, its former site now being part of the Waitrose car park. No, No Nanette and Night Must Fall were performed in The Carlton, but in 1938 the company moved to the Digby Memorial Church Hall in Digby Rd for The Scarlet Pimpernel. Subsequent plays were all performed in the Church Hall until 1972, when Angels in Love was the first play to be performed at the newly built Digby Hall in Hound St. The Digby Hall was used by APS for all indoor productions until the spring of 2018, at which point the Sherborne Studio Theatre became our main venue.

In most years since 1946 APS have presented spring and autumn productions, sometimes with an outdoor summer production as well. A full list of plays can be found on our Past Productions page. We marked the change of century in style, with a series of outdoor Shakespeare productions, starting with The Tempest in 1999 (which we also took to Preveza in Greece) and ending with Twelfth Night in 2002. In 2009 we celebrated our 75th Anniversary with a revival of Tons of Money at the Digby Hall, combined with an exhibition of 75 years of memorabilia.

Now that we have our own small theatre, we aim to present three or four productions a year. Needless to say, the Covid pandemic during 2020 and 2021 seriously curtailed this plan, but we did succeed in presenting two outdoor summer productions, Waiting for Godot and Shakespeare In (and out of) Love, during that time, and fully intend to get back on a more even keel in the years to come.


Carlton Theatre
Digby Hall
Sherborne Studio Theatre
APS Awards

Although we are amateurs, we aim to stage productions of the highest possible standard of excellence and professionalism. Audiences are highly appreciative of our hard work, and over the years our productions have won a number of awards. Our most recent production, Witness for the Prosecution, directed by John Crabtree in December 2021, was immediately awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Graham Liverton, the NODA Regional Councillor who came to see it. We look forward with interest to seeing the NODA Award nominations in 2022.






2021 Rose Bowl John Coe Award for Best Dramatic Production
Table Manners


directed by John Crabtree at the Sherborne Studio Theatre



2019 NODA Councillor's Award for the
most outstanding production in the South West during 2018
A Midsummer Night's Dream


directed by John Crabtree at the Sherborne Studio Theatre



2018 Rose Bowl Joan Hawkins Award
for Best Shakespeare, Classic or Restoration Play
A Midsummer Night's Dream


directed by John Crabtree at the Sherborne Studio Theatre



2018 Rose Bowl David Higson Award for Best Supporting Actor
Adrian Harding


as Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream



2015 NODA Peter Wheeldon Trophy
awarded for excellence to groups that are truly amateur




2011 Rose Bowl John Coe Award for Best Dramatic Production
The Wind in the Willows


directed by Patricia Harris at the Digby Hall, Sherborne



2011 Rose Bowl John Lewis Award for Best Actor
Adrian Thorpe

as Toad in The Wind in the Willows

directed by Patricia Harris at the Digby Hall, Sherborne



2001 Rose Bowl Special Millenium Award
for Best Shakespeare Production
Hamlet


directed by Mark Freestone at The Courts, Sherborne School



2001 Rose Bowl Award for Best Publicity Material

poster by Mark Freestone and Mark Lambert



2000 Rose Bowl Award for Best Actor
Mark Freestone

as Septimus Hodge in Arcadia

directed by Tony Field at the Digby Hall, Sherborne



1999 Rose Bowl Award for Best Publicity Material
Poster Design by Robert Doling


directed by Jason Hepple at Compton House, Over Compton


1997 Rose Bowl Award for Best Supporting Actress
Joy Saunders

as Miss Trafalgar Gower in Trelawny of the "Wells"
directed by Jennie Ward at the Digby Hall, Sherborne



1997 Dorset Drama League Award for Best Set
Lunch Hour

Set Design and construction by Mark Lambert
directed by Stuart McCreadie at the Weymouth Pavilion




1996 Dorset Drama League Producer's Trophy
Pity About Kitty

directed by Jakki Gregory at the Shaftesbury Arts Centre




1987 Bristol Evening Post Award for Best Actor
Vivian Vale

as The Waiter in You Never Can Tell
directed by Margaret Field at the Digby Hall, Sherborne


1985 Bristol Evening Post Award for Best Production
Gaslight


directed by Jennie Ward at the Digby Hall, Sherborne


1982 Bristol Evening Post Award for Best Production
The Woodlanders


directed by Lance Salway at the Digby Hall, Sherborne
1947 Guild of Players Trophy
Spring 1600


directed by Fred B. Alcock at the Theatre Royal, Bristol