Saturday 8 November 1986

Warminster Community Play Society


The team who boldly brought the Warminster Community Play Imber to life last July after almost three years of monumental planning, have now reformed themselves as the Warminster Community Play Society, in order to achieve their hopes to continue staging further productions with community involvement.

At a meeting held in the foyer of the Warminster Arts Society, on the evening of Tuesday 4th November 1986, Mrs Christine Furney, who successfully masterminded the Imber project, following what was essentially her idea for a community play for Warminster, thanked everyone for their loyal support during the last three years but regretfully had to announce her resignation due to family commitments.

Sheila Toomey and Patrick McCloughin were duly elected Co-Chairmen of the Warminster Community Play Society. Other officers elected including Heather Major (Treasurer); Joan Calvert (temporary Minutes Secretary); and Joan Chaunt (temporary Secretary and Community Liaison Officer). Edward Moore, although not present, had kindly agreed to continue as legal adviser to the Society.

Minutes of the AGM were approved, and the accounts of the Imber play were circulated for all to see. These too were approved. Accountants Berkeley Hall & Co., who had audited the accounts completely free of charge, had generously agreed to continue to do so.

Christine Furney asked that a vote of thanks be recorded in the minutes to Heather Major, because she had immaculately kept the books and in so doing had ensured the auditors had an easy task and thus were able to provide their services free of charge.

Plans for future activities were thrown open to the floor and a healthy discussion, lasting over an hour, ensued.

Among the many wonderful ideas put forward was that of the Reverend Roger Sharpe, Vicar of Warminster, who thought the Society might like to present a history of the Minster Church and its effect on town life over the years, as a way of celebrating the centenary in 1988/89 of the restoration of the Parish Church which was largely due to the remarkable efforts of Sir James Erasmus Philipps.

Reverend Sharpe said an indoor drama presentation would eliminate the worry of bad weather and could be staged at any time of the year. He offered the Minster Church as the venue for the play, saying the pews could easily be re-arranged and the gallery at the back had seating space for up to 500 people.

Reverend Sharpe suggested the celebration could be on the lines of a Son et Lumiere, as often performed on the Continent. After all, the Minster is probably one of the oldest edifices in Warminster but that didn't mean the history would be all dates and boring facts. Local folklore has it that the yew tree in the Parish Churchyard is over a thousand years old, which readily suggested a play incapsulating "What has the yew tree seen?".

All present agreed this was a marvellous idea and had great potential and was easily-suited to story-telling. It was anticipated though, that the writing of a town history was a mammoth task for one writer and it was probably better if the script was delegated to several people or groups such as schools being responsible for, say, ten minute sketches each. These, put together in chronological order, could portray the life of the Church and the way events effected the rest of the community. World events of the time could also be incorporated.

As a long-term project the idea was deemed worthwhile but in order to avoid a loss of impetus due to the time planning factor, it was agreed to present other productions in the meantime but these would be of a community nature and chosen for their linking theme.

Among the ideas for short-term presentations were A Man For All Seasons and The Vigil. The former could be staged in Autumn 1987 and the latter maybe during Holy Week 1987. It was then decided to hold a play-reading session, either for 'Seasons' or 'Vigil' or both, on Monday 15th December 1986, at 7.45 pm, at the Minster Hall (at the west end of the Church, entrance through the Porch), by kind permission of Reverend Sharpe. Everyone is invited.

This will be followed by a Christmas Social at the Vicarage, again by kind invation of Reverend Sharpe, on Thursday 18th December, at 8 pm. Gentlemen are asked to bring wine, and ladies to bring Christmas fare such as mince pies, etc.

Future events could include an arts and crafts exhibition by Warminster people and the residents of Warminster's twin town, Flers. This could be done during the time of one of the twinning visits, which are usually held at the end of April/early May.

Anyone interested in joining the Warminster Community Play Society should contact Sheila Toomey on Warminster 213674.