The Castle Players is led by a team of Trustees who manage and oversee the group, giving their time as volunteers.
Trustees are responsible for strategic planning and financial probity. Also within their remit are insurances, policies and procedures, budget monitoring, recording accounts, selecting and scheduling shows.
Amongst the Trustees is a Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, Company Secretary plus Team Leaders for Production, Programming, Community, Marketing, plus Business and Sustainability. See the current Trustee membership below.
Chair - Chris Gibson-Bell
Way back in 1989, as a relative newcomer to the area, I went to an amazing promenade performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at The Bowes Museum by an unknown group called The Castle Players. The rest is history…
My younger daughter (then aged 7) was completely entranced by the whole spectacle of that magical evening – she got to talk to ‘cheeky, tricksy Puck’ – and insisted on being involved in the following summer’s show “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and all subsequent shows until life took her away from the area. So began my career as a Castle Players parent.
I have seen every summer production & many winter ones. Inevitably I was sucked into the group. Many years ago, I established the Friends of The Castle Players. I became a Trustee in around 1997 and led the Marketing Team for a long while. In the past I was Chair of The Castle Players for about five years. In May 2022 I was again elected Chair. My one public performance was in a rehearsed reading of “A Christmas Carol” 10 or so years ago.
Vice-Chair - Sue Byrne
I have been involved with Castle Players for more years than I like to admit. I first appeared as Luciana in the 1990 production of Comedy of Errors. It was challenging, great fun and I was hooked! Since then, I’ve appeared in summer shows, winter tours, taken part in rehearsed readings in the community and more recently was part of “Always by your side” a short play to raise awareness about dementia for school children. When not able to take part myself, I’ve been in the audience to cheer everyone along.
I’m now lucky enough to lead the artistic programming team which puts forward recommendations on productions to stage. I became a trustee in 2019 as I wanted to play a greater part in the management of the Castle Players.
Over the years, the Castle Players have evolved and many people have come and gone (and come back again!). It has always felt like another family- a family which is diverse, creative and nurtures talent. Above all, a family which is hugely supportive, builds confidence and encourages its members to shine.
Lesley is our Wardrobe / Costume specialist providing all manner of outfits for any production!
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 was Chair of the Castle Players from 2017 - 2019.
As the founding member of The Castle Players, I am proud of the company and in awe of the commitment, talent, and tenacity of our members. After retirement, I have become more involved with the players and have recently become a Trustee. I’m so impressed with the way the organisation has grown in a most professional manner, building a reputation for excellence, and making firm friendships along the way. It never ceases to amaze me just how much work everyone puts in to keep the performances fresh and exciting.
I have been involved with theatre one way or another for all of my working life. My involvement began in my home town of Ulverston when I became Administrator of Renaissance Theatre Trust; a professional arts organisation that toured every form of performance art into venues in the Lake District. We developed our own small-scale touring theatre; it was a baptism of fire as I had to handle all aspects of running a sizeable arts organisation. After ten years there was a break when I found myself in Nigeria as my husband was a building professional in a community building a town near Lagos. I established arts events there and on my return to the UK I became Administrator of Durham Theatre Company. Various other freelance arts work found me responsible for raising funds and promoting theatre in the region. I was also employed to organise The Bowes Museum Centenary year, which involved organising 100 arts events and a massive outdoor festival with an audience of 6,000. At this point I became a theatre critic and for the next thirty years I reviewed, interviewed, and authored many articles for The Northern Echo, The Stage and Television Today, The British Theatre Guide, etc., it was during this period that I founded The Castle Players. The rest, as they say, is history!
‘We know what we are, but know not what we may be.’
(Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5)
"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.