On February 2nd 1943, The Grimsby Evening Telegraph carried an advertisement for a play performed by the Caxton Players. On the front page was a photograph of a scene from ‘Children to Bless You’. This was the first public appearance by the 'Caxton Players' as a society. The real beginnings though go further back. Late in 1940, at a time when local dramatic societies and operatic groups had closed down because of the war, three members of the Grimsby Evening Telegraph staff decided to put on a play, to counteract the depression of the times. John Knowles, the advertising manager, two of his staff, Mary Pinion and Sheila Robinson, all with some dramatic experience, and four other newspaper workers became the Telegraph Amateur Dramatic Society. In February 1943, it was decided by the committee that a new society should be formed, because there were so few members of the Evening Telegraph now left. The name ‘Caxton’ was suggested because of the connection with printing.
The society has continued to thrive since its humble beginnings and is the only society in North East Lincolnshire with its own theatre. Our auditorium seats 184 people and we produce eight main-house productions per year. These productions last for seven performances – Saturday to Saturday (excluding Sunday), and are produced every six to seven weeks. A reading of the play normally takes place 14-16 weeks before opening night, where anyone can come along and listen to the play being read by current members. At the end of the reading, audition pieces are available to take away to prepare for the auditions, which take place a few nights later. Auditions take place in front of a casting panel of three directors, one of which will be the director of the play concerned. Rehearsal periods last about 12-13 weeks before opening night. The number of rehearsals you will be required to attend depends on the size of the part you have. The director will draw up a rehearsal schedule at the beginning so you will know when you are required. As we always have at least two plays in production at any one time, the first period of rehearsals take place in our rehearsal rooms (Burnetts) next door to the theatre in Strand Street. Then immediately after the preceding play finishes rehearsals move to the actual stage until opening night.
We also put on smaller productions, normally for two or three nights, in the bar area – the Novartis Suite. Rehearsals for these productions vary, depending on the director and cast involved. There is not normally a reading or auditions for these productions. We hope the above information gives you a taste of our society.
WHEELCHAIR USERS Dedicated seats for wheelchair users and their companions are available for each night of a production. However, in the final week before opening night, or if a performance is sold out, these seats will be made available to the general public so please book early if you require this facility.
CURTAIN UP We ask that members of the audience are in their seats by 7.30 p.m. otherwise, if the play has begun and the lighting is turned down, you may have to wait for a suitable opportunity before out front of house staff can allow you safe access to your seat.