Quaintwood Players came about as an amalgamation of two Buckinghamshire Village groups:- firstly ‘Quainton Drama Group’ was established, some years prior to the Second World War when the Women’s Institute in Quainton, largely owing to the enthusiasm of their then president, Lady Brown of Doddershall House, grandmother of the present owner Christopher Prideaux, became involved in presenting plays. Using her contacts, Lady Brown was able to arrange for some productions to be directed by professionals such as Peter Jesson, an actor in Z Cars, Danger Man and several ‘Carry On’ films; Mrs Cobden-Sanderson, a captivating story-teller, and Mrs Collingwood-Selby. The latter also directed at the Minach Theatre in Cornwall and her sister lived at Waterperry House where there is a theatre similar to the Minach. This is apparently still used during the annual Waterperry Arts Festival which is held in the beautiful grounds there.
Under Lady Brown’s patronage the Group would often visit Doddershall for dinners and other functions. After her death directors had to be found from their own membership and there was an eventual split from the W.I. in order to stage plays unrestricted by the rule which forbade casts with more than 25% male actors!
For nearly seventy years, first as a W.I. organisation and then as Quainton Drama Group, there was at least one annual production, usually a play, broadening into two, one play and one fund raiser, Victorian Music Hall or Pantomime, each year. Membership was not restricted to Quainton parishioners so friends and workmates from other areas were roped in to help out.
‘Grendon Underwood Amateur Players’ was established in 1995, with a group of enthusiastic show offs. There had been previous Drama groups in the village of Grendon however the GUAP was the first group formally established in recent years. A number of productions were performed, but it was recognised that with the small numbers in the group there would always be some limitations as to the productions that could be performed. Some of the Grendon members had also participated in Quainton productions where numbers were also reducing. Sharing of lighting, scenery and storage had become a mutually beneficial process. Thus it was decided, in separate votes by the two independent groups, that there would be many advantages in amalgamating.
1999 saw the inauguration of ‘Quaintwood Players’, with the clear intention of staging each production in both founding villages, something to which we have remained faithful.
Over the last decade, numbers of active participants have increased with 35 hopefuls attending the Christmas Carol casting, and we now have in excess of 50 members, with plenty of room for more. Our most recent and perhaps our most challenging was our recent production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. We are best known for our Pantomimes and Murder Mysteries, but have successfully performed musicals and plays.
You don’t have to get on stage to join our group, and if you are keen to perform you don’t have to be available for every production, so come along and give it a try. You will be guaranteed a laugh if nothing else. We can be found in Grendon Underwood Village Hall, where we are able to make use of the permanent stage, from 8pm on pretty well every Monday evening.