AYR FORT PLAYERS

Ayrshire's oldest established amateur dramatic group, since 1946

ABOUT US

From humble beginnings in a school classroom at Ayr Academy in 1946 to becoming one of the longest established, much-loved amateur dramatic groups in Ayrshire – the Ayr Fort Players.

The earliest productions were staged at Ayr Town Hall, a challenging venue in which to perform drama. Limited lighting, acoustics, no proscenium, absolutely no changing facilities ..... but they persevered. Then came an absolute revelation for the local drama community – Ayr Burgh Council had been convinced to buy and convert the Robertson Memorial Church into a Civic Theatre. So, from 1951 through to the early 2000s, local drama groups and touring companies had a wonderful new home. The theatre was an ideal size for drama and is still fondly remembered by those who played there or attended performances. In 2009 Ayr Council took the decision to demolish the theatre with concerns that there was an asbestos problem – that was an incredibly sad day when that happened. Without a home, the Ayr Fort Players took to producing their plays at Belmont Academy, again a challenging venue but, again, they persisted. After the Gaiety Theatre was saved and taken over by Ayr Gaiety Partnership, the Ayr Fort Players had, once again, found a new and exciting home.

Over the years, the Ayr Fort Players, have provided entertainment with classic farces such as See How They Run, Move Over Mrs Markham; quality modern drama – 84 Charing Cross Road, Steel Magnolias; Scottish comedies – Toom Byres, Whisky Galore and stage adaptations of popular TV sitcoms such as Dad’s Army and Fawlty Towers.

The Ayr Fort Players was the first amateur group granted the rights to Tony Roper’s famous Scottish comedy The Steamie, which played to packed houses during the 1997 Ayr Festival. More recently, for Homecoming Scotland 2009, the production was Rikki Fulton’s uproarious A Wee Touch O’ Class. Since then, the productions have covered Alan Ayckbourn’s How the Other Half Loves, another successful production of The Steamie, The Vicar of Dibley, Noises Off, No Sex Please We’re British, The 39 Steps, Stepping Out (which was produced at the Town Hall while the Gaiety was going through a facelift), The Ladykillers, City Lights, Gaslight, Murder on the Nile, etc. Our last production, before the Covid 19 epidemic took hold, was the hysterical farce Don’t Get Your Vicars in a Twist – this was, in fact, the last production to take place at the Gaiety before it was forced to close its doors due to Covid restrictions.

In a normal year, the Ayr Fort Players stage two productions, one in spring and one in autumn. Also, they are involved in Ayr’s many cultural events, such as ‘ladies-only’ productions as part of the annual SeptembAyr Festival.

All profits from their productions are donated to Cancer Research and, as of 2021, in excess of £50,000 has been handed over to this much deserved charity.

And the story is far from over – the Ayr Fort Players will continue, stronger and more entertaining than ever, throughout the coming decades.

OUR NEXT PRODUCTION

THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE

Ayr Gaiety - Thursday 28th to Saturday 30th April 2022. Evenings at 7.30pm and Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. 
 Booking: 01292 288235

Synopsis

During World War II, the all-girls school of St Swithins is evacuated from London after there school was demolished during the Blitz. Due to an administrative error, the female students and staff are relocated to Hilary Hall Boys School in Hampshire, whose headmaster, Wetherby Pond, is none too amused. He and St Swithins headmistress, the unswerving Muriel Whitchurch, eventually agree to keep their mixed-sex school a secret to avoid disturbing the parents. However, how long can they keep up the deception?

CAST
DICK TASSELL Assistant Master at Hilary Hall  Simon Lamb
RAINBOW School Porter and Groundsman  Mike Wright
RUPERT BILLINGS Senior Assistant Master at Hilary Hall   Aidan McDowall
GODFREY POND Headmaster Hilary Hall  Nick Wakeham
MISS EVELYN WHITCHURCH Principal of St Swithins  Ella Kerr
MISS VIOLA GOSSAGE Senior Assistant Mistress at St Swithins  Sandra Poole
HOPCROFT Mi.  Pupil at Hilary Hall  Aidan McKay-Baird
BARBARA CAHOUN  Pupil at St Swithins  Beth Donaldson
JOYCE HARPER Assistant Mistress at St Swithins  Laura Ruth Scott
REV. EDWARD PECK Father of a St Swithins pupil Jonathan Ross
BETTY PECK Wife of Rev. Edward Peck Grainne Home
EDGAR SOWTER Father of Hilary Hall pupil tbc
HILDA SOWTER Edgar Sowter's wife Fiona Shields
Director Nick Wakeham
Asst Director Mike Wright
Stage Management Claire Smith
Prompt Sheila Fisher
Props and Furnishings Anne Harcourt / Fiona Shields and team
Wardrobe Shona Quayle and team

PAST PRODUCTIONS

Click on the arrow for details of shows. If show has a live link then clicking on it will lead you to any images we have in our archives

1946
  • The Rose and Crown - J B Priestly
  • The Twelve Pound Lock - J M Barrie
  • Ophelia - T B Morris
1948
  • Jan - The Black Eye - James Bridie
  • Oct - The Housemaster - Ian Hay
1949
  • May - The Roundabout - J B Priestley
  • Oct - The Sacred Flame - Somerset Maugham
  • Nov - Sordid Story - J A S Coppard
1950
  • Feb - He Walked in Her Sleep - Norman Cannon
  • Apr - School For Spinsters - Roland Pertwee
  • Oct - Too Young to Marry - Martin Flavin
1951
  • Feb - Dark Summer - Wynard Brown
  • Oct - The Paragon - Roland & Michael Pertwee
1952
  • Apr - Still Life - Noel Coward
  • Oct - The Browning Version - Terence Rattigan
1953
  • Jan - Black Chiffon - Lesley Storm
  • Jan - The Man Who Came To Dinner - Hart & Kauffman
  • Apr - Blithe Spirit - Noel Coward
  • Oct - Corinth House - Pamela Hansford Johnson
  • Nov - Toom Byres - Robert McLellan
1954
  • Feb - Pink String & Sealing Wax - Roland Pertwee
  • Apr - He Sits by the Melting Pot - Kaj Munk
  • Nov - Grouse in June - N C Hunter
1955
  • May - Harlequinade - Terrence Rattigan
  • Oct - The Willy-Nilly Leech
1956
  • May - The Day's Mischief - Lesley Storm
  • Oct - Lace on her Petticoat - Aimee Stewart
1962
  • Oct - A Lady Mislaid - Kenneth Horne
1964
  • Oct - Trial and Error - Kenneth Horne
Sep 64 - Mar 65
  • Touring Shows:
  • From Five to Five Thirty - Philip Johnson
  • Gibbie Proposes - T M Watson
1965
  • May - Goodnight Mrs Puffin - Arthur Ludgrove
  • Oct - Bell, Book and Candle - Jon Van Druten
1966
  • Feb - Ladies in Retirement - Edward Percy/Reginald Denham
  • May - Wolf's Clothing - Kenneth Horne
  • Oct - All For Mary - Kay Bannermen and Harold Brooke
1967
  • Apr - Signpost to Murder - Monte Royal
  • May - The Honours of Drumlie - James Scotland
  • Oct - Book of the Month - Basil Thomas
  • Dec - Ghosts and Old Gold - Reid Kennedy
1968
1969
  • Feb - Dear Octopus - Dodie Smith
  • May - My Three Angels - Sam & Bella Spewack
  • Oct - The Sorcerer's Tale - James Scotland
1970
  • Feb - The House by the Lake - Hugh Mills
  • May - You Can't Take It With You - Kaufman/Hart
  • Oct - Letter From the General - Maurice McLoughlin
1971
1972
1973
  • Feb - Bonaventure - Charlotte Hastings
  • May - Pygmalion - George Bernard Shaw
  • Oct - Boeing Boeing - Marc Camoletti
1974
  • Feb - Wait Until Dark - Frederick Knot
  • May - The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde
  • Oct - Blithe Spirit - Noel Coward
1975
  • Feb - Ladies in Retirement - Edward Percy/Reginald Denham
  • May - The Paragon - Roland & Michael Pertwee
  • Oct - Barefoot in the Park - Neil Simon
1976
  • Feb - Someone Waiting - Emlyn Williams 
  • May - Busybody - Jack Popplewell
  • Oct - The Inquiry - Charlotte Hastings
1977
  • Feb - Move Over Mrs Markham - Ray Cooney/John Chapman
  • May - The House on the Cliff - George Benson
  • Oct - Butterflies Are Free - Leonard Gershe
1978
  • Feb - Out of the Question - Ira Walloch
  • May - The Restless Evil - Charlotte Hastings
  • Oct - The Glass Menagerie - Tennessee Williams
1979
  • Feb - How the Other Half Loves - Alan Ayckbourn
  • May - Lord Arthur Saville's Crimes - Constance Cox
  • Oct - There Goes the Bride - Ray Cooney/John Chapman
1980
  • Feb - The Secretary Bird - William Douglas Home
  • May - Murder Mistaken - Janet Green
  • Oct - Pardon Me Prime Minister - Edward Taylor/John Graham
1981
  • Feb - Suddenly At Home - Francis Durrbridge
  • May - A Tomb With a View - Norman Robbins
  • Oct - The Heiress - Ruth & Augusta Goetz
1982
1983
  • Feb - Happy Birthday - Marc Camoletti
  • May - Intent to Murder - Leslie Sands
  • Oct - Relatively Speaking - Alan Ayckbourn
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
  • Feb - My Friend Miss Flint - David Churchill
  • May - California Suite - Neil Simon
  • Oct - Ghosts and Old Gold - Reid Kennedy
1990
1994
2001
2019

NEWS

Well, we managed to get two wonderful young actors for the roles in The Happiest Days of Your Life and will commence production in January 2022, ready for the show at the Gaiety in April.

At the moment our intrepid team are out sourcing props and costumes for the show - if you would like to join them then just drop us a message using the form below.

Meanwhile, if no updates beforehand - have a great festive season and we will be updating at the beginning of 2022.



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Memories

MEMORIES OF THOSE WHO HAVE TAKEN PART IN THE AYR FORT PLAYERS

We all have memories of being part of a club or society - good and bad.

We have asked members, past and present, to share those memories with you.

This space will be where those memories are shared.

If you are reading this and were with the Ayr Fort Players at any time then please do get in touch via the CONTACT page and let us know.

JOIN US

Auditions for new productions are open to all who wish to attend. Aspiring actors aren’t the only section of the theatrical community that we welcome with open arms. It takes many people to stage our productions. So, if you think you wouldn’t be comfortable on stage, why not consider joining us in one of the many other departments such as Stage Management, Props, Wardrobe, Scenic Design and Construction? We expect all our members to be involved in all productions if possible – one production you may be playing the lead and the next you could be a vital part of the backstage crew.   
  
Normally we rehearse twice a week in the centre of Ayr.

Membership costs only £15 per year, or £5 if you are a full-time student. If you are over 16 and are interested in becoming a member then fill in our form and we will let you know when the next audition is being held or invite you along to our current rehearsals.  

You can also contact us via Facebook or Twitter.  

Contact Us

Complete the form and send it in to us. You will be informed of the next audition taking place or will be invited along to watch a current rehearsal to give you a taste for what is involved in becoming one of the Ayr Fort Players family.

Please let us know in the form what aspects of stage work you are interested in. For example: acting; stage management; props; wardrobe; etc

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FAQ

Questions we often get asked - and the answers

How old do I have to be to join?

Answer. 16 or over. We would only use U16s if there was specifically a part for them in the production. If you are under 16 and are interested in theatre then we would suggest a local youth theatre such as Gaiety Youth Theatre, Centrestage, PACE or FIB.

I don't want to act - can I still join and take part?

Answer. As much as they would lead us to believe, it isn't all about the actors! We need backstage staff. People to gather and deal with props. People to source and deal with costumes. Stage Management. Set Design and Construction. Every single person is a much-needed cog in the wheel

What would be my commitment if I join?

Answer. If you join and audition and are offered a role in a play then you have to commit to rehearsing 2 nights per week. If this is not possible then you must think very carefully about auditioning for a part. Not being able to commit to that rehearsal period is not fair on the other members of the company. Should more than 2 consecutive rehearsals be missed then the director has the authority to recast the role. If you do not have a role in the play then we would ask that you try to come along to as many of the rehearsals as you can and to volunteer for other positions such as props, costume, stage management, etc. 

What sort of productions do you usually stage?

Answer. We cover everything from high drama to farce. The only objective is to produce a play that we feel the public would like to come and see. It can be anything from Shakespeare to Ayckbourne to Tony Roper. That is what makes it such a diverse group in which to belong. 

What does it cost to join?

Answer. There is a £15 yearly membership fee. For full-time students that is reduced to £5 per year. 

I would love to join but don't think I'm good enough. What should I do?

Answer. You will never know until you try. Get in touch, come along to rehearsals, get to know everyone. We are a really friendly lot and will encourage you all the way.