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Silchester Players

Although subject to lockdown restrictions, the year 2020 ended on a high note for Silchester Players.

The final editing of our radio version of the pantomime Dick Whittington involved numerous Zoom conferences and a few seconds of re-recording, but we were very pleased indeed with the end product. We held a virtual first night on 22nd December for cast, crew and invited guests, prior to the first broadcast on HHCR Basingstoke’s Community Radio on Sunday 27th December. That broadcast attracted an estimated 300 listeners – comparable to an audience for 3 performances in Silchester Village Hall. If you missed the broadcast or its repeat on New Year’s Day please visit our website www.silchesterplayers.org and click the link to listen to the pantomime.

We received an excellent report from Chris Horton on behalf of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) of which we are members. The production was described as bringing “warmth and great entertainment”. The concluding words were as follows:

The level of energy never dropped and all the cast gave 100 per cent to this hugely enjoyable and fun production. The music and sound effects were exceptional. The cast were well supported by the musical director Tony Oliver. Silchester Players deserves enormous credit for preparing this pantomime for radio.  They have been performing an annual panto since 1976 and their productions usually contain colourful principals, singing and dancing, elaborate costumes and special effects.  Although not a visual feast this year, there was enormous enjoyment to be had from this radio production which was recorded as part of the Christmas festivities on Basingstoke's community radio, HHCR. The auditions were conducted by Zoom, the cast never met and recordings were done remotely.  All social distancing and Government guidelines were met.  Silchester Players can be proud to add this production of Dick Whittington to their list of great achievements.

We would also like to thank Spratleys of Mortimer for their sponsorship of Dick Whittington. The pantomime’s author permitted us to perform free of royalties but it has been necessary to purchase a licence for use of copyright musical material included in the production to enable us to make it available on our website. As of course we received no income from the radio broadcast, the sponsorship usefully covered this expense.

It is now time to move on and consider our activities in 2021. The committee will hold a virtual meeting at the beginning of February to plan future events. However it is already apparent that due to the ongoing Covid crisis it will not be possible to stage our normal May production. Also at present an October production appears unlikely. We hope that we will be able to perform a pantomime on stage early in 2022 but of course nothing is certain while restrictions remain.

In the meantime we will be exploring possibilities for audio productions, or play readings drawing on our experiences of remote rehearsing and performing in 2020.