From the beginning…

 

Ditsum Players is a Drama Group set up in 2003 at the instigation of a long time Dittisham resident, Pat Heighway, who sadly passed away in 2016. Pat, together with the elected committee, guided Ditsum Players forward into the much respected drama group it is today.

A summary of the various productions that have been put on by The Players since the date of their formation is set out below.

2003
January
Sweet Susan of Dotsum – The first production put on by Ditsum Players was a pantomime which was written and directed by Hugh Treseder. It was a cast of village folk (as in previous village pantomimes which were usually directed by the man who became President of Ditsum Players, Ronald Travers) and was performed over three evenings in the Village Hall.

March
Stepping Out – This play was set around a group of ladies who taught themselves to tap dance (with the help of Claire Harvey, a tap dancer herself) and was directed by Barry Spencer who in a past life worked professionally in the London theatre world. The producer was Sandy Philpott (once of Higher Street) and it had a cast of eleven, including Simon Cannon as the Sugar Plum Fairy!

November
Party Pieces – The first of many of these productions over the years. The format being a show of a dozen or so short acts chosen by the various performers, either single, double or small group acts. This format for an evening’s entertainment has given much pleasure and fun to the many performers and their audiences over the years.

2005
February
Party Pieces – Following the success of the first production, the same format was again put on fifteen months later.

November
Deckchairs – Four short two women plays where relationships unravel as the women sit in deckchairs on a local beach. The plays were directed by Paul Vincent and performed by: Doggies – Sally Vincent and Shona Morley, Cold Frost – Annie Stevens and Pat Heighway, Early Blight – Lesley Wells and Jill Treseder, Shoppers – Marina Pusey and Stella Stothart.

2006
May
Party Pieces – As the Village Hall was undergoing renovations, on this occasion Party Pieces took place in St. George’s Church. It proved to be a great location for what was another great evening of fun and entertainment – it also marked the first of many stage appearances for Ian A’Court who played ‘Manuel’ in a Fawlty Towers sketch re the newly installed Wheely Bins.

2007
January
Cinderella – The pantomime performed over three evenings in the Village Hall was directed by Pat Heighway and co-produced by Sally Christensen and Lesley Wells. The role of Cinderella was played by Rebecca Cannon, with David Fletcher as Buttons and Emily Watts as Prince Charming.

November
Don’t Mention the Dream – A short play put on for the Dart Drama Festival and directed by Paul Vincent. There was a cast of four being Ian A’Court, Edith Wellman, Sally Vincent and Jill Treseder. The Ditsum Players supported the Dart Drama Festival which was an annual event until it was sadly wound up in 2013.

2008
February
A Murder at the Hall – A murder mystery production performed over supper in the Village Hall, organised and directed by Roger Hickman who, as the murder victim, spent most of the evening on the floor under the head table!

April
An Evening with Joyce Grenfell – A one woman play performed by a guest artist, Jane Bower, courtesy of an introduction from Jane Bibby. In an evening of excellent Entertainment, Jane depicted the life and works of Joyce Grenfell.

June
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Probably the most ambitious production put on by The Players, the Shakespeare drama took place in the beautiful surroundings of Middle Meadow, the home of Paul and Pat Heighway. It was always Pat’s ‘dream’ to put on this production set round their garden lake and, as director and producer, she worked so hard to find sponsors to support this ambitious production. Paul Vincent was Pat’s Co-Director and Ron Travers the Consultant Director. There was a cast of many and huge support behind the scenes for a production that was put on to large audiences over two evenings in the floodlit garden. It was certainly a performance to live long in the memory.

November
Two Slatterns and a King – This short play was performed for The Dart Drama Festival. It was directed by Edith Wellman and the performers were Ellie Taylor and Shona Morley (the two Slatterns), Callum Woodmam (The King) and Alun Sherwood (The Vice).

2009
April
Our Town – Another classic production about life in a small community in New Hampshire. The play was Co-Directed by Paul Vincent and Linda Cookson and was performed over three evenings in St. George’s Church, a very fitting setting for this production. The play focuses on the lives of two families and has a narrator and ‘stage manager’, played by Tony Burn who introduced the three Acts and provided a commentary on proceedings.

November
The Stronger – A short play put on initially for the Dart Drama Festival and directed by Paul Vincent. The two performers were Gina Carter who delivered the whole script and Lesley Wells who did not say a word during the entire play – who was the stronger? The play was put on again later in the month to a full audience in the Village Hall.

2010
January
Dick Whittington – The pantomime was directed and produced by Ron Travers and was performed for three nights in the Village Hall. Dick Whittington was played by Caroline Hall, his cat by Anna Wotton with a full supporting cast of village gents ladies and children.

November
The Hebrew Lesson – The Wolf Mankowitz play was directed and produced by Lesley Wells for the Dart Drama Festival. There were excellent performances from Ian A’Court, an elderly Jewish man and Callum Woodman as the young man seeking refuge from the Black and Tans in Cork. Bob Bull and Peter Coxon played the two Black and Tans in this high quality production.

2011
January
Party Pieces – Another multi act evening in the Village Hall, including the usual contribution from the short mat bowling club, scripted as always by Phyllis Trant.

July
Shakespeare in the Garden – Another production performed in the garden of Paul and Pat Heighway directed by Paul Vincent and Linda Cookson, narrated by Brian Patten. The performance was over two evenings, the second of which was moved into the Church due to the atrocious weather conditions. The production included well known scenes from King Lear, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Measure for Measure, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It and Romeo & Juliet.

2012
February
Party Pieces – A fifth production of this popular event which always included some new faces on stage. On this occasion Chris Malley made his stage debut on behalf of The Players performing his famous ‘Hat Trick’.

November
Last Post – A short play for The Dart Drama Festival directed by Lesley Wells. The cast of two were played by Edith Wellman and Inka Gabriel, the story being of a widow who meets an unknown visitor with unexpected results.

December
Black Comedy – This one act play was a hilarious 1960’s farce performed over three nights in the Village Hall with a supper provided at the end of the show. It was directed by Linda Cookson with a wonderful set design by Jon Pusey with his band of helpers. There were eight performers being in programme order Tom Leeman, Caroline Hall, Sally Vincent ,Alun Sherwood, Callum Woodman, Simon Cannon, Gina Carter and Peter Coxon.

2013
January
The Stronger – The two woman play was performed again by popular demand and on this occasion the venue was Fingals Hotel. It took place in the barn and was widely acclaimed as one of the best short play productions put on by The Players.

November
A Nice Cup of Tea – Another short play put on for The Dart Drama Festival. It was directed by Paul Vincent and performed by Ian A’Court and Caroline Hall. The play is a one act comedy in which health and safety regulations take their toll on domestic bliss.

December
Talking Heads – An Alan Bennett production directed by Paul Vincent and Lesley Wells, performed by Sally Vincent (A Lady of Letters) and Gina Carter (Bed Among the Lentils). The plays were put on for two evenings in the Village Hall, with supper included and provided an evening of excellent entertainment.

2014
January
Peter Pan – The pantomime was directed by Marina Pusey with the assistance of Jenny Young. It was performed over three evenings in the Village Hall and Peter Pan was played by Katie Young with John Dupree making his stage debut as Captain Hook. As always with our village pantomimes, it was played to a full house on each night, and it is rather sad that this was the last panto put on by The Players up to the present date.

January
Talking Heads – By popular demand this production was put on for a third evening at Fingles Hotel and again played to a full house in the barn.

June
The Ditsum Varieties – An evening of fun filled Victorian and Edwardian entertainment put on and compered by Chris Malley (in true Leonard Sachs style) . It was a riot of old time music and comedy, ending with a presentation of prizes for the best costumed lady and gentleman in the audience.

2015
May
Cabaret Evening – This was an ‘up market’ Party Pieces put on by Sally Vincent and Lesley Wells. It was done in style, with the audience in full evening dress enjoying a three course meal, a dinner menu in French and lovely place settings presented by Paul Vincent. The stars of the show were the pupils of KEVIC’s in Totnes who performed excerpts from their musical presentation of ‘Les Miserables’.

November
Murder Mystery Evening – ‘Who killed the Hotel Manager’ was directed by Chris Malley from a script provided by Roger Hickman. It was a play performed In two halves, the Hotel Manager played by Ian A’Court and the Murderer by John Dupree. An amusing aside was the fact that the murder implement was a Chinese Vase which was created by Paul Riley, having been purchased from a Junk Shop for £2 and was auctioned at the end of the evening for £80!

December
Shakespeare in the Hall – The main feature of this production was the amazing creation of The Globe Theatre in the Village Hall, a work of art by Jon Pusey, who brought in a cyclorama of the actual Globe as a set. The production was directed and narrated by Paul Vincent. It was performed over two evenings and comprised various well known pieces from Shakespeare plays, including Twelfth Night and A Mid Summer Night’s Dream.

2017
May
Cabaret Evening – Following the success of the cabaret evening in May 2015, Sally Vincent and Lesley Wells put on another event of similar format, but not with ‘posh frocks’ on this occasion. The ‘usual suspects’ were persuaded to step up and perform, with Paul Vincent compering the show.

September
Quartet – The Players hosted a production of Ronald Harwood’s play performed by The Camp Theatre, a travelling Drama Group based in Cornwall. The performance was extremely well received by our audience and, as a result, we invited The Group to re-visit us in 2018 – They are a touring group who visit various venues in the West Country during their annual Autumn tour.

2018
November
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime – The Camp Theatre’s second visit to our Village Hall they presented this Oscar Wilde play. Again, the performance was very professional and well received by the audience.

December
Two Plays and a Supper – The format of the evening was quite simple, but proved very popular with the audience. The first play was ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’, previously performed at The Dart Drama Festival in 2013, again directed by Paul Vincent, but on this occasion Alun Sherwood joined Caroline Hall to play out the one-act comedy. An excellent supper was then provided by Gail Mosley before a second play was was presented. It was a classic comedy play (apparently played out on German TV every year on New Year’s Eve) portraying life in an Edwardian dining room. The play was directed by Lesley Wells and played by Ian A’Court (the Drunken Waiter) and Sally Vincent (The Lady of the House) – A hilarious performance.

2019
January
Murder Mystery Evening – ‘Ditsum Towers Hotel proudly presents The Prat Awards’ (Performing, Recording and Technical Awards) were brought to us by Tony and Jill Hulatt. This was not only a fun evening enjoyed by all, but was very encouraging from The Players perspective as it was put on by the next generation of the Group, leaving the ‘oldies’ to relax and enjoy. Music was provided by ‘ The Angel Delights’ who proved to be very popular with the audience who were on the floor dancing until midnight.

November
Woman in Mind – Another excellent performance by The Camp Theatre who gave us their rendering of Alan Ayckbourn’s dark comedy play. The Group’s driving force, Steve Jefferies, should be mentioned as he is the main player in all of The Camp’s Productions, both on and off the stage.

2020
February
An Evening of Poetry, Prose & Music – Presented by Sally Vincent and Lesley Wells was an evening of entertainment in the same vein as Party Pieces and Cabaret, but with a more literary bias. It was introduced by Paul Vincent and was very well received by a full house in the Village Hall. We much enjoyed the first stage performance from Johnny Moulsdale with his beautifully presented poetry.

Sadly the coronavirus pandemic  prevented any further productions in 2020 and 2021 however,  in 2022 Ditsum Players were back with great enthusiasm.

2022
August
Heroes – A hilarious play, translated from the original in French by Tom Stoppard. Performed to a packed audience, who revelled in the story line,  the returning Camp Theatre were simply at their acting best.

December
Voices Raised – Directed by Jill Hulatt, Voices Raised was staged in the wonderful, if not chilly setting of St George’s Church. This was an evening of poetry and song with performances by too many individuals to mention. The highlight of the evening was the A-Capella singing by Devon based choir ‘Glorious Chorus’ in what was their last ever Christmas performance.

2023
October
Murdered To Death – Camp Theatre returned, with a cast of ten, to perform a glorious farce which was an affectionate but irreverent take on the doyenne of crime ‘Agatha Christie’

November
A Little Box of Oblivion
Ian A’Court in his first role as director received great applause from a packed out audience for this absurd one act play written by Stephen Bean.
The play evolved around a box being left on a bench with instructions not to move, tilt, knock or open it. A series of motley characters then begin to arrive each with a theory about the contents of the box!
Cool Guy (Cool) – Pete Coxon
Woman – Stella Stothart
Neurotic (Neuro) – Caroline Hall
Doom Merchant – John Duprée
Amateur Sleuth (Dick) – Ginny

December
It’s A Christmas Cracker
Organised by Stella Stothat, who also performed with the dancing ‘Divas of the Dart’ this was the second  production under the Cracker banner.
Poetry, singing, readings, dancing and a hilarious pantomime dame performance by Chris Davies all made for a great evening’s entertainment. And to end the occasion Tony Hulatt and Ray Benson played guitars and had the audience in full voice, singing to a couple of Christmas songs.