The Castle Players are headed up by a team of Trustees that take on the role of steering the group forward. They have various responsibilities such as arranging insurance, monitoring budgets, recording accounts and archiving the vast amount of paperwork that the group generates as well as making final decisions on the Artistic Programme. See the current Trustee membership below.
Chair - Sarah Fells
I have always enjoyed pretending to be other people and from an early age would write scripts and perform with my family for whoever would stand still long enough to be the audience! We moved to the area in 1998 but it was a couple of years before I plucked up the courage to come along to a meeting - I know that seems at odds with what I have said but it’s a big thing to go along to any meeting on your own and it seemed such a professional group. They were, and still are, very welcoming and the most professional amateur group I have worked with and I have made lifelong friends.
My first show for The Castle Players was ‘The Beaux Strategm’ in 2000 and I have been involved ever since. Some of my favourite performances have been in As You Like It, The Owl and The Pussycat, Much Ado, Romeo and Juliet and Dracula, (although everyone has had good memories). I love the summer shows for the huge outdoor spectacle we create - and the challenge of projecting over the sound of roosting rooks or the wind! I enjoy the winter touring show for the diversity of the venues and the more intimate performances. The script in hand performances are just great fun as there is less pressure (no lines to learn!) and can be so rewarding.
All this of course doesn’t just Happen. There is an army of people involved in the organisation e.g. Trustees and members on our various Teams. Most of us are the performers as well, but we have some exceptional members (who would never dream of being on stage) whose talents and creativity have enabled us to produce so many successful productions.
I became Chair of Castle Players in 2017. Performing in front of hundreds of people is much easier in some ways but I felt it was important to show my commitment to the future of the group and, in a way, it’s just another person I am pretending to be!
Vice-Chair - Angus Wheeler
"You know since Pentecost the sum is due" - my very first line, from my very first Castle Players show - still seared in my mind, that shows how much the CPs gets into your blood and I hope it does with you too. I'm married to Susan, a professional Castle Players' widow, with two children, Elizabeth and Alistair. My first CP encounter was taking part in the charades the night of the legendary power cut in the Old Well in 1986. Beyond attending parties, I didn't actually join the group until the first Comedy of Errors, back in 1990 where, as the Second Merchant, I was chasing after my debts. Since then I have played parts ranging from one of the Lovers in Midsummer's Night's Dream to a sequined, fishnet tighted, night club girl in The Tempest plus I have worked back stage, constructed sets and worked in various teams running the CPs. Why I am I still here? It's because we are like one large family that always pulls the stops out to produce something amazing that entertains several thousand people per year and I get a real buzz out of that.
I joined CPs in Jan 1996 and became one of 3 athletic Ariels (Hard to imagine I know) Since then I have enjoyed many fun parts including Titania in the Dream, Leonata(o) in Much Ado, Mrs Candour in The School for Scandal, Phoebe in As You Like It, and Mistress Quickly in Merry Wives. Then there were my 'comic man' years-Grumio in the Shrew, Speed in Two Gentlemen and the Provost in Measure for Measure. Since then there has been the Countess of Rossilion in All's Well, Juliet's Nurse in R&J and the French Constable in Henry V (We woz robbed I tell you!) and other small parts. But small or large they were always fun. I've been in nearly all of the Winter Tours too - the parts of The Plum Pudding Flea from The Owl & the Pussycat and Mole from Wind in the Willows spring to mind. I was invited onto the Board of Directors very early on and became Secretary, I think, in 2004. I shall be leaving CPs shortly as I am moving away from the area and I shall miss it painfully.
Peter Cockerill, lives in Barnard Castle and is a former Landlord of The Old Well Inn. He worked in the brewing/pub industry for over 30 years in various technical and management roles. He joined the Castle Players cast and crew for the 2007 production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona and has been in every summer production since; as well as a few winter productions! He was also part of the C.P. group who worked with The RSC in 2016 playing the role of Bottom in A Midsummers Night Dream at Newcastle Northern Stage, and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon. He is currently acting full time.
In September 1986 Laurence ran the first workshop for the newly formed Castle Players. Despite seeing many of its productions it was not until 2014 that he again became involved, playing Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. Since then he has directed Henry V (summer 2016), and has adapted and directed Pride and Prejudice, Victorian Values, and Oliver Twist for the company's winter tours. He is directing the summer 2018 production of Macbeth.
I joined Castle Players in 2015 for the summer production of Merry Wives of Windsor and played a Garter Girl, which involved copious amounts of pretending to be drunk and singing! Great fun! I made a great group of friends doing this show, having previously not known anyone involved. I've since done the Winter Tour of Pride & Prejudice then took some time out to have my son, then made a return to the grassy knoll of the Bowes Museum to be a Feste in Twelfth Night. I took the plunge and directed a one act farce called Black Comedy in October 2017 as part of the New Director Initiative, which was great fun and I'd love to direct again.
After enviously watching The Castle Players' Productions for many years I finally took the plunge and joined in 2012, when I was a hand maiden in As You Like It. Over the years I have played a variety of roles - my favourite so far has to be the repressed Miss Furnival in Black Comedy, which was huge fun. I have also become more and more involved in the unseen work that helps run the group. As I have a background in marketing I joined this team and have enjoyed looking after the Facebook pages and producing the Summer Production Programme for the last 3 years.
I think Castle Players is about so much more than putting on plays. The wide variety of people that are thrown (brought?) together, who may not otherwise meet, is really refreshing, and I have made some very close friends. Being involved has helped me broaden my horizons, build my confidence and given me fresh challenges in life.