Welcome to the website of our two research projects, the first fully funded academic studies of amateur theatre in the UK.

A Day in the Life by John Emms

Added on by Helen Nicholson.

Post updated by: Erin Walcon

We've been overwhelmed and pleased with the responses from our PDF research toolkit - so many of you are sending us contributions which begin to tell the story of your amateur companies - through written documents, video interviews, drawings, photographs, and even some audio recordings.  We'll begin featuring these contributions over the next few weeks - we began with Kelly's history of Sunderland Society, and this week we're featuring John Emm's postcard describing a 'Day in the Life' of Emley Drama group.  Keep sending them in, it's so fantastic to hear from you.  Here are John's words: 

'So...what are we doing today? Well, basically, faffing about trying to make arrangements to get together in the local pub again to decide what we're going to do next.

You see we did a play in October and we've got the usual run of murder mysteries, (either free for charities or cheap for community organisations anywhere up to 20 miles away or very reasonable for commercial organisations) in the run-up to Christmas. But we still have to find out who's available for May half-term (we're stuck with half-terms, because a playschool use the church hall now, as well as us) and decide what we might fancy putting on.

Point is, there's only about a dozen of us, on-stage, back-stage etc., so naturally we don't bother with auditions or any of that nonsense. And we don't have committees or chairpeople or secretaries, treasurers, play-readers and heaven knows what. No-one actually has an official role, at all, so how anything gets done we've never managed to work out. Though most people turn their hands to most things, when required. So the director might have a role, and design the set and help build it and provide some props and furniture. And a couple of actors might have to run the sound and lighting while they're not onstage, if it's  largish cast and we don't have anyone spare. And another actor does the tickets and money, and a couple of them do the publicity and....

But we do two plays a year and they're always well received, despite the fact that there's rarely the whole cast available for any of the rehearsals. And, it seems, for amateurs, we're pretty good. So people from the bigger, posher drama groups (who some of our people are with too) are always happy to take a part if we're short. Not least because they claim to like the relaxed atmosphere, the fact that there are no prima donnas, no bitching, no-one who thinks they're in charge. Though occasionally it might be a good idea to have someone in charge.

Speaking of which, it occurred to me the other day that we needed to get together, so I started emailing around. And the problem now is that one person from Huddersfield Thespians who was in the last play said she might like to be in the next one, but no-one seems to know how to get in touch with her. and another lass who had been supposed to be doing that part but had had to pull out - well, her email is bouncing back and she isn't responding to texts.

And half the people I emailed haven't replied, and of the ones who have, everyone can make the 8th December except one, so that's when we'll meet. In the White Horse, naturally.

Unusually, someone's already suggested a play, but it has big parts for him and me and I'm not sure I've got time to take on a big part, so we'll probably have to think of another, somehow. Garry often seems to take that on. So perhaps he'll do it again. But if he doesn't I'm sure someone will.

Oh, and I did sort of put together a financial account for the last play. It didn't balance, but it wasn't far off, but no-one's bothered about that - more interested in knowing how much is in the bank. Which is always enough, because we always make a surplus.

Which reminds me, we need to think of some local organisations to give grants to, as we might as well, since we've got enough money, and we can regard it as publicity money (which, of course, it is), so looks good in the accounts. Or would do if anyone ever produced any. 

Oh and since the couple who do front of house and refreshments have moved out of the village we actually put a plea in the village mag (organisation, eh!) and someone's answered, so she needs to be told the date of the meeting. In the pub.

Oh and there's these folk doing this survey about amdram, so someone needs to respond to them, so they can see there's another way to do it from the more traditional, er, organised arrangements....'

John Emms, Emley Drama Group