New Era Theatre is located on the Andover Road in Wash Common. From the direction of Newbury it is on the right hand side, just in front of St George's Chruch Hall. The map shows where to find the theatre.
New Era Theatre
St. Georges Community Centre
New Era Players is a small, friendly and very successful theatre club that was established in the Wash Common area on the south edge of Newbury in 1978. Our performances each year offer a wide variety of theatrical styles - just take a look at our past productions!
One of our important aims is to produce plays that are a challenge to both ourselves and our audiences, as well as putting on more traditional productions. We have strong talent in all areas of theatre; directing, acting and the technical aspects. The great joy of having a small theatre of our own is that we can develop performances in the actual space - very exciting for all concerned.
We put on four productions a year - usually in March, June, September and December. Our normal rehearsal nights are Tuesdays and Thurdays, but these can vary depending on availability for each cast and director.
We have an active social play reading programme for our members, where we read and enjoy plays we would not perhaps be able to put on - and enjoy the odd glass of wine!
If you want to share the experience of performing on stage, share the creativity of set-building or costume design or just enjoy the teamwork in whatever direction your talents take you, please enjoy this website and join us using the contact details you will find here. Whether you are experienced or just have bags of enthusiasm, you can be assured of a warm welcome.
Chairman: Richard Colley
Treasurer: John Rigby
Technical Officer: John Cordery
Email: New Era Information Office
Box Office: 07919 916009
The New Era Players were formed in 1967, and put on their first two productions in that year, The Birthday Party and The Killing of Sister George. Another company was formed in 1971, the Pelican Players, with the object of restoring the old Pelican Theatre in Pelican Lane, Newbury. Unfortunately, the destruction of the building by fire ended this ambition, and the New Era Players was re-formed and re-invigorated putting on productions in the old Newbury Plaza in the market place.
The rehearsal space used was the former St Luke’s Church on Andover Road, and the company decided to convert this nineteenth century building into a theatre. After a lot of hard work, the stage was set for The Heiress in 1978.
The Players set up the Theatre Club, enabling audience members to join the New Era Theatre Club and receive tickets for each play, on the night of their choice, in return for an annual subscription. This enabled the complications and costs of theatrical licensing to be avoided.
Since then, the Players have continued to flourish, producing three or more plays each year in the intimate theatre which only seats 50. Improvements are always being made, converting the roof space for use as a costume store, dressing room and sound/lighting box and, as a celebration of 25 years in the theatre, re-furbishing the beautiful Art Deco seats (originally purchased from a redundant cinema in Guildford at £1.00 per seat) and adding raking to give the audience an even better view of the action.
There are currently over 50 members of the New Era Players, ranging in age from 16 to 80+. Several of the original New Era Players from the 1960s still take a very active part in the group, and new members are always joining to add a new dimension to the society.
The New Era Players appreciate the advantages of having sole use of their own theatre, for rehearsing, socialising, and, of course, the productions, and the opportunities that exist for everyone to experience all the joys that the theatre can offer.
By 1858 the Common had been enclosed and a Turnpike road (the Andover Road) had been built across it. Large houses, then smaller ones were built. To cope with the growth in population, St John's parish (of which the Common formed part), erected a Mission Room and Infant School in 1876. In 1878 the small red and blue brick building was licensed for Divine Service and the Sacrament of Baptism - it became known as St Luke's, and remained Wash Common's church for 57 years.
In 1889 Mr Charteris of Sandleford Priory, gave money to build a small Mission Church with a school-room at the back for infants, who took one penny a week. This was St Luke's and was served by a curate from St John's.
The sale of land to the Education Authority as the site of Falkland School made possible the completion of St George's Church in 1963-4.
St George's now became a separate parish with the Revd. Canon W.R. Birt its first vicar.
A church hall was built in 1973, and St Luke's, which had served this purpose since 1933, was leased as a theatre to New Era Players, who remain there to this day.
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