Since its inception in 1980, The Hills Players amateur theatre group has grown from a small band of very inexperienced but enthusiastic people performing secondary school one-act plays to an equally enthusiastic, much more professional and larger group performing, directing and in some cases writing its own comedies, dramas, musicals and revues.
Our first meetings were held in a classroom at Ferny Hills State School but this was soon abandoned for the more permanent base at St Williams Catholic Church Hall at Grovely, where a stage was built by members families and church supporters. Our first production was staged on borrowed drama boxes in the Arana Hills Community Centre.
In 1986, we received a Service Award for Community Involvement from the Pine Rivers Shire Council, in 1990 we became The Hills Players Inc. and in 1993 obtained a grant from the Regional Arts Development Fund.
We now have a membership in excess of thirty and a mailing list of over 100 people who regularly bring their friends and families to enjoy our three (usually) productions per year.
The aim of The Hills Players Inc. has always been to provide family entertainment to the community at reasonable cost while offering members the opportunity to learn and grow in their theatrical skills as well as sharing in that tremendous fun which is Theatre.
THE HILLS PLAYERS INC 30 YEARS ON
The Hills Players Inc amateur theatre group has been providing good family entertainment in the Hills area for 30 years and we’re still going strong. The amateur theatre group was formed in 1980 at Ferny Hills State School with the idea of using the amenities hall as their home. At that time, the hall was not completed but it was soon realised that it would not be suitable for the type of theatre the group was performing. It would also be beyond our means as a struggling group of players to meet the fees asked. We then moved to The Hills Neighbourhood Centre at James Drysdale Recreation reserve but this was also unsuitable.
Our first production in 1981 was staged at the Arana Hills Community Centre where we had to erect our own stage using school drama boxes and offcuts of carpet and we dressed in a caravan (all in together) outside the back door. The program was shared with a local dancing school and it was quite a success. We were off and running!
Fortunately, Father Daley at St Williams Catholic Church was sympathetic to our plight and offered St Williams at a very nominal rental. The old church was to be our home with a stage being built by parishioners and husbands of theatre group members. Father Daley even brought in some old theatre seats he’d acquired from the old Regent theatre in town which was being renovated and we thought we were just ‘it’.
Since the beginning of 2003, we’ve left St Williams Community Hall behind due to their church renovations and become entrenched at St Matthews Anglican Church Hall. We have often dreamt of having our own place: somewhere we could have raked seating, more storage area and better stage facilities. But, all these things are very costly and as we have always tried to keep our prices within the budget of families and pensioners, we do not have the financial backing to have our own theatre. The positive side of using St Matthew’s Hall is that we still have a stage – higher than at St Williams (1 plus); the entry at the front is ideal for ticket sales and has an access ramp for our elderly audience members and those in wheelchairs; we have support from the Church and it’s still local. The down side is the size of the stage with it’s built in cupboards; access to the stage from only one side; limited parking for audience; lack of dressing rooms; and limited lighting facilities. In the early days of using this hall, it was not available on Monday evenings, so we rehearsed under All Saints Anglican Church at Arana Hills on Mondays and at St Matthews on Wednesdays. After a year or two of this toing and froing, we were glad to be able to gain the use of this hall for Mondays as well.
Recently, we have gained a little more room on stage by removing the old piano (in pieces) with the approval of Reverend Jan Crombie. We have also added a more permanent lighting control box and our stage extension now covers the full width of the old stage. This, of course, also benefits the church hall users. We are very grateful to the Anglican Parish of Grovely for allowing us to make St Matthew’s hall our home and also storing our props under the hall.
PRESIDENTS: 1982 Denis Healy 1984 Peg Algate 1985-87 Fay Fuhlbohm 1988-89 Jim Hammond 1990 John Fleming 1991 Margaret Reid 1992 Ann L Johnston 1993-94 David Klein 1995-96 John Fleming 1997 Margaret Reid 1998-2000 Sylvia Smith 2001-06 Peter Carmichael 2007 Sylvia Smith 2008 Margaret Reid 2009 Joanne Prove 2010 Margaret Reid 2011-12 Peter Carmichael 2013 Val Morgan 2014-15 Margaret Reid 2016 Peter Carmichael 2017-18 Margaret Reid Currently Valerie Morgan
VICE-PRESIDENTS: 1982 Sandra Dowdle 1983 Fay Fuhlbohm 1984 Denis Healy 1985-86 Marie Evans 1987-88 Margaret Reid 1989 John Fleming 1990 Margaret Reid 1991 Jim Hammond 1992 David Klein 1993 Sylvia Smith 1994 Barbara Goodwin 1995 Sylvia Smith 1996 David Klein 1997-99 Sylvia Smith 1999-2000 Peter Carmichael 2001-04 Sylvia Smith 2005-06 John Daniells 2007 Ann L. Johnston
SECRETARIES: 1982 Margaret Reid 1983 Ann L. Johnston 1984 Florence Swan 1985 Julie Foster 1986-87 Lyn Pysden 1988-91 Sandra Dowdle 1992 Narelle Reeves 1993 Margaret Reid 1994 Sarah Hayden 1995 Margaret Reid 1996 Peta Douglas 1997 Annette Todd 1998-2007 Margaret Reid 2008 Joanne Prove 2009 Margaret Reid 2010 Ann Johnston 2011-12 Eliza Morawska 2013-17 Tyrion Perkins 2018 Eleanor Hayden Currently Margaret Reid
TREASURERS: 1982 Iris Couper 1983 Barry Holland 1984-85 John Holmes 1986-88 Sylvia Smith 1989-94 Val Morgan 1995 Rhondda Fleming 1996 Tina Reid 1997 Coral Innes 1998-2000 John Daniells 2001-02 Jim Hammond 2003-07 Joanne Prove 2008 Peter Carmichael 2009-10 Veronica Witham 2011-13 Eleanor Hayden 2014-15 Lorelle Edwards Currently Joanne Prove (since 2016)
PUBLICITY OFFICERS: 1982-83 Chris Giblin 1984 Iris Couper 1985 Florence Swan 1986 Beth Gordon 1987 John Holmes 1988-89 Ann L Johnston 1990 Brian O’Connor 1991 Peter Brown 1993 Dennis Moore 1994 (6 mths) Ray Simonds 1994 (6 mths) Margaret Reid 1995 Cecily Schuh 1996-97 Jim Hammond 1998-99 Lin Ross 2000-03 Gillian Phillips 2004* Kate Beck 2005-08 Ann L. Johnston 2009 Gary Farmer 2010-11 Elodie Boal 2012 Tyrion Perkins 2013 Lorelle Edwards 2014-15 Eleanor Hayden 2016-17 Helen Weir 2018 Michelle Hayes Currently Eleanor Hayden & Nicki Milios