The South Shore Players was formed in late 1993 and was the brainchild of the late Roy Portchmouth. He felt that there was so much latent talent around, it should be put to good use! He contacted several like-minded individuals and together they decided to stage Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This was quite an undertaking, as there was no theatre, no costumes, no sets, no lights, and no money. However, through Roy’s dogged persistence and the enthusiasm of many people, a cast was put together, sets and costumes found and the local Community Centre was transformed into a theatre. The show was a smash hit! And that was the beginning. The Players‘ aim: “To provide a high standard of theatrical entertainment for the South Shore of Nova Scotia, while at the same time encouraging and providing opportunities for talented amateurs to develop and display their abilities in the performing arts”.
Since A Christmas Carol, at least two shows have been produced every year. There have been one or two hiccups along the way. For instance, after a 1995 show – a critical success but financial disaster – a fundraiser had to be mounted to pay off the creditors. The show was Jitters, a dinner theatre held at the Bluenose Lodge. The response was amazing and from that moment on, the South Shore Players has grown from strength to strength. 1997 saw the staging of the first Christmas Pantomime – Cinderella. Since then, this notably English form of entertainment has become very popular with audiences of all ages and an integral part of the holiday season.
A major step forward came that year with the purchase of a property and its conversion into a theatre by the late Edie Bauer. He named it the Starlight Theatre – now the Pearl Theatre. Without this theatre and the support of HB Studios Multimedia, it is doubtful whether the South Shore Players would still be in existence.
The next year, at the suggestion of the late Warwick Hynes, a bursary – now called the Sarah K. Allen Memorial Bursary – was established to be granted annually to a post secondary student enrolled in theatre arts. Another award, the Young Actor’s Award, was set up in 2001 by the late Ivor Harrington.
Now with the demise of the Pearl Theatre, having been absorbed by HB Studios in December 2015, the South Shore Players are looking for a new home. In the interim, various venues will be utilized for their ongoing productions.
Despite being currently homeless, the South Shore Players will continue to stage new and exciting shows annually, thereby allowing actors of all ages the opportunity to ‘strut their stuff’ while directors continue to pull out their hair!