From the programme of the 10th Anniverary Production of 'Oh, What A Lovely War!' 1978
In the summer of 1967, a young professional actor called Chris Timothy was asked to give a talk to the Hatfield Heath Women's Institute. His enthusiasm for acting and the theatre proved infectious, and shortly afterwards a small group met to consider presenting a play in the village. They decided to tackle the well known thriller 'Night Must Fall' in the spring of 1968. The play was presented in the old Village Hall, under very difficult conditions, using scenery and lighting 'borrowed' from ATV using Chris's contacts. The Friday evening performance had to be cancelled at the last minute due to a double booking with a dog show!
Due to the limitations of the old Village Hall, the next production of three one-act plays was presented in Sawbridgeworth a year later, but the move proved to be a financial disaster.
Meanwhile, back on the Heath, the new Village Hall project was under way and in late 1969 the group was reformed to present 'Doctor in the House' as one of the opening events in the new Hall. No stage, no curtains, but scenery and lights were begged, borrowed or stolen and the audience were seated on rostra borrowed from Moot House Players. From that moment the Heath Players began to take off. Increasing support and enthusiasm were found within the village, and we launched ourselves into pantomime as well as increasing the number of plays presented. During the next few years, the group grew steadily in numbers, strength and reputation. We became regular entrants in the Bishops Stortford Drama Festival, and gained awards on several occasions. The Youth Group was formed, and in addition to presenting its own productions, became an invaluable asset to main productions. Several of the Youth Group memnbers have developed to become staunch members of the adult group: others have left the area and joined other societies. Standards have risen backstage, onstage and front-of-house, where the majority of our audience enjoy a good view from purpose built tiered seating. In more recent years, our Old Time Music Hall has entertained audiences over a wide area of Essex and Hertfordshire. The group now has a turnover of about £1,500 and profits are reinvested in equipment.
it would be wrong to conclude this account without a mention of those to whom we owe so much for their help and support, Chris and Sue Timothy, the inspiration of the group for so many years; Robin and Reay Parkinson, Pat and Barry Rand, Mark and Janet Ratcliff, Jean Foster, Dot Sharp and many more who have been involved over the years. Also a big thank you to the Village Hall committee for their help and encouragement: the list is almost endless. But of course the most important of all are you, our audience. Without your support we would not exist. So we hope you enjoy the show, and will continue to support us.
The Heath Players have continued to thrive and although we do not produce the same number of productions as we did the quality is still as high as ever. Our productions have met with great acclaim from audiences at the Village Hall and since 2007 we have been presenting plays at the annual Hertford Theatre Week where we have won many awards and in 2010 we took 'The Sociable Plover' to the National finals and swept the board!
2015 was another successful year for us. We won the NDFA All Winners' Trophy for the second time at Woking with Bombers' Moon and for the first time in many years performed two productions on the Heath with our '60 years of Radio Comedy in the autumn 2022. After the disruption of the Covid pandemic and no show for nearly two years we stuck together and produced a successful comeback with 'The Women of Troy' in October 2022 directed by Chrissie Waites. 'Once Upon a Crime: The trial of Goldilocks' April 2023 directed by Joanne Gladstone turned out to be a roaring success with fantastic reviews. Next up 'The Revlon Girl' directed by the ever present Steve Foster in October 2023.
We hope to continue to produce high quality, non-professional drama on the Heath for many years to come.