Wychwood players: The lockdown project

As the old adage goes, the camel is a horse designed by a committee. With that in mind, when we decided in early lockdown to commission a new website, the task was delegated to Mandyrae Jessey and me. Firstly, we wanted to devise a new logo; that seemingly simple idea rapidly expanded into innumerable permutations, eventually emerging as a very simple design with the name flanked by two trees representing The Wychwoods.

We then set about gathering material for the website. Despite our long history as a drama group, we have always been so focused on the next production that we have never taken the time to compile an archive of previous plays, so the first task was to draw up a back catalogue, which meant digging through old records to work out what we did when. Next, we managed to pull together a complete set of programmes covering some 60 productions, together with various old posters. Even more of a challenge was trawling through 23 years of back copies of The Wychwood Magazine online to find every review ever published, printing these off and scanning them ready for uploading to the website. Our research revealed that shortly after formation in 1997 we produced two pantomimes in one season (Oh yes we did!), and our very first production in the New Beaconsfield Hall, The Devil’s Disciple by G B Shaw, boasted a cast of 29.

Meanwhile, we were busy liaising with the web providers over the design and layout of the site, and working our way through hundreds of old photos taken during rehearsals, performances and backstage. Anthony Gofton spent many hours editing short video clips and putting these on You Tube, linked to the website; these brought back some happy, not to mention hilarious, memories. Various other interesting bits and pieces have also been added for the first time.

Finally, after months of hard work, the website at www.wychwoodplayers.com was ready for launch. We are delighted with the finished product, and hope that you will take the opportunity to try it out for yourself. If your appetite is whetted, we always welcome new members, both ‘treading the boards’ and ‘behind the scenes’. Of course, most theatres, both amateur and professional, are still dark during the pandemic, but we have plans to record radio plays, sketches and poems although this is very much ‘work in progress’. Hopefully, we will be back with live theatre in Shipton some time next year, but rest assured that the new website will be kept up to date with our plans, so watch this space!

Phillip Croxson

April-May 2021