A Snapshot of Ballina Players History
Ballina Players is one of the oldest amateur theatre groups in Australia. In September 1955 Joan Williams called a public meeting to form a theatre group. As a result 12 people attended and the Ballina Players was born. From that humble beginning Players has progressed from play readings, revues and one act plays to three act plays – drama, melodrama and comedy – and the most popular of musicals.
It was not plain sailing right from the beginning, venues had to be found and with the help of a local businessman we obtained the facilities at the Plaza Theatre in river Street for some performances. We also took our plays ‘on the road’, to Woodburn, Lismore, Newrybar, Casino and other venues. Over the years this settled down and we found a semi permanent home in the Masonic Hall in Cherry Street.
Without a permanent home it was necessary to store sets, costumes and other theatrical equipment, bring everything out on the night of the performance and then pack it all away afterwards. It was even harder when we were on the road, transporting everything with us, but we managed in those early days.
In the late 1970’s the search was on for a permanent home and after much lobbying, applications for grants and a great deal of hard work our very own theatre came into being. The Grand opening in November 1984 was a social event in the Ballina Calendar with the staging of the Musical “Anything goes”. Twenty years later we staged the same show as a 20th Theatre Birthday show.
In the last 17 years, Ballina Players has presented a regular season of comedy, drama, musicals and cabaret. With 5 productions each year, each production has ensured a fresh inflow of talent from Ballina and surrounding districts while at the same time, the theatre has continued to develop and expand its production facilities and to improve the audience environment for patrons. The Covid-19 years of 2020-2022 impacted on Ballina Players so that only 8 productions (with smaller casts in some cases) were staged instead of 15.
The traditional pattern of productions since 2006 has been: March (comedy/drama play); Jun/July (musical); September (comedy/drama play); Nov/Dec (musical); and January (youth musical).
Recent additions of a new wardrobe, kitchen storage and rehearsal space (2010) have added to the flexibility of our theatre. Also, in 2015, we were able to fully outfit the Kitchen area with a mezzanine level enabling more room for costume storage.
In 2020, we received a Grant from the NSW Government to completely renovate the Bar/Foyer area.
Plans are in place for a walkway for lights by raising the roof at the thrust of the stage, and building a new sound outfitting station in the Green room.
See Alan & Joan’s reflections in the 50th Anniversary booklet in 2005, compiled by Eddie Richards, and written by Alan Williams & Cyril Wray. JOAN & ALAN WILLIAMS Reminisces
The 50th Anniversary Booklet is available from the Secretary.