St. John’s Players
With the aim to foster a movement in dramatic art in the province, Newfoundland’s first “little theatre” group, founded in 1937” by Newfoundland and Labrador playwright Grace Butt, the St. John’s Players is the oldest theatre group in the province. The group first introduced itself to the public one stormy night in 1938 with a production of Sir James Barrie’s “The Admiral Crichton” and, since its inception, has been active in the local theatre scene with the exception of two hiatuses from 1976-82, and 2005-2012.
The St. John’s Players participated in the very first Newfoundland and Labrador Drama Festival in 1950 and, in 1952, won the inaugural Dominion Drama Festival – Newfoundland Region. That year it became the first group from the province ever to be invited to participate in the national finals of the Dominion Drama Festival held in St. John, New Brunswick with their production of “Ladies In Retirement” by Reginald Denham and Edward Percy. The group was awarded the Martha Allen Challenge Trophy for best visual presentation at the final festival and Carmel Kemp was awarded the Nella Jeffries Challenge Trophy for best performance by an actress at the final festival in the role of Louisa Creed.
In 2013, after a seven-year hiatus, the group returned to the local theatre scene. Both the Fall 2013 production of David Ives “All in the Timing” and the Winter 2014 production of Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor” achieved critical success. The summer event was a staging of “Magic Jack” by local Grand Falls·Windsor playwright Shirley Morrow. In the Fall of 2014, the company produced “Vimy” by Vern Thiessen. After staging their Winter production of of “The Why” by Victor Kaufold, the group remounted “Vimy” as their entry in the 2015 Newfoundland and Labrador Drama Festival held in Gander, March 5-11.