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28 October 2014

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The Saracens Theatre Company
Written by Paul Eden
A production by the Saracens Theatre Company
The Saracens Theatre Company
The Saracens Theatre Co have a fascinating history. Find out all about the group and how you can join them, in this special feature by Paul Eden from the theatre group (including picture gallery of performances).
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The Saracens Theatre Company
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The Scaracen Theatre company started in 1851.

They were originally called the St Nicholas Amateur Dramatics Society.

In 2001 the name was changed to The Saracens Theatre Company.
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The Saracens Theatre company are a medium sized amateur theatre company based in Kings Norton, which is in the South West corner of the city. We've approximately 30 members, not all of which are actors.

We perform a wide variety of shows from Thrillers & Musicals to Comedies & Pantomimes.

We do between 2- 3 production a year including an annual pantomime in November.

Performances take place in St Nicolas Hall, which is situated just around the corner from the Historic Kings Norton green.

Picture Gallery: take a look at some of the pictures from past productions. Go to picture gallery

A fascinating history

In 1951 a group of members of St Nicolas Church got together to discuss the possibility of forming an amateur dramatics society. There was a lot of enthusiasm and the St Nicolas Amateur Dramatics society was formed.

A production by the Saracens Theatre Company
A production by the Saracens Theatre Company
The first president was the Rev. Edward Ashford and was very supportive (even today we carry on the tradition of inviting the rector to be president of the group).

At that time there was no church hall so we rehearsed and performed in the Saracens Head. (The Saracens Head is a 15th Century building that was originally a Bailiffs house, and there is evidence to suggest that buildings stood on the site dating back even earlier).

There was no stage and a makeshift one had to be built and taken down again for each production - this often involved many hours of hard work.

There were no proper dressing rooms and the cast had to get changed downstairs and then go up to the hall by means of an outside fire escape, from which entrances and exits were made to and from the "Stage".

A production by the Saracens Theatre Company
A production by the Saracens Theatre Company
The actors would have to stand outside on the fire escape awaiting their entrances in all sorts of weather from rain and snow to howling gales.

The first production in 1953 was three 1 act plays, "The spinsters of Lush" by Phillip Johnson, "If men played cards as women do" by George S Faufman & "The friends of Valerie Lane" by Dolland Parsons.

In November 1953 we performed our first three-act play "Quiet Weekend" by Esther McCracken.

Normally three productions were performed each year, in March, May and November.

When St Nicolas Hall was built in the early 1970's the group was afforded the luxury of being able to perform on a proper stage for the first time.

Our first production in the hall was "Quiet Wedding". Some time after this it was felt better to drop the word "Amateur" from the groups title, though of course all our members were still amateurs - that is unpaid.

A production by the Saracens Theatre Company
A production by the Saracens Theatre Company
In November 1983 the first Pantomime was produced, "Robinson Crusoe" which was a huge success. Dancers from the Rita Cashmore School of Dance were used and a pianist provided the music.

It was such a success that it was decided to drop the November play and do a pantomime each year instead.

This tradition carries on today and we continue to write our own scripts so the panto remains truly original.

In 2001 we decided to change the name again, as we wanted something a bit more upbeat and modern.

Still wanting to keep our ties with the church we adopted the name of the building where we first started and continue to use for meeting and rehearsals, The Saracens Head, so the group became known as The Saracens Theatre Company.

As we approach our Golden Jubilee it is unknown what the next phase in this drawn out history will be. Particularly as the future of the existing hall is uncertain.

There are plans afoot to re-build the hall but it is unclear at this stage when and if that will go ahead.

Joining the group

We always welcome new members from all walks of life, whether experienced actors or not and all.

A production by the Saracens Theatre Company
A production by the Saracens Theatre Company
Ages are welcome from 16 - 116. We are especially on the look out for young males (or so the female members of the group tell me anyway).

The only constraints we have on membership are; no persons under 14 and all children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

The easiest way to get involved is to come along to one of the rehearsals, which usually take place in St Nicolas hall on Tuesday nights.

If acting is not really your cup of tea there are plenty of other ways for people to get involved; set-design and construction, selling programmes, helping out front of house, or even just helping with publicity.

For membership enquiries email

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