The Play’s the Thing…

20th August 2023 Progressive Players News
The Play’s the Thing… Share This Entry:

We asked Progressive Players member Jim Race to talk about a recent addition to this website.


What do these four people have in common?

a) Henry the Eighth’s fifth wife
b) Ex-Leicester City footballer turned Match of the Day presenter
c) Tsar Nicholas the Second’s youngest daughter
d) British Prime Minister who signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919

Well, you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that their names have all appeared in the titles of plays presented by the Progressive Players. And in case you’re wondering, those names are: Katherine Howard, Gary Lineker, Grand Duchess Anastasia and David Lloyd George.

Information about these (and about every other PP production) has recently been incorporated into our website as the new All the Plays section. It’s a comprehensive catalogue going right back to the company’s founding in 1920, with titles, authors, synopses, dates and photos.

All the Plays began its existence in 2008, when member Jim Race compiled a simple printed list for PP members to peruse in the club room of the Little Theatre.

“It was a real labour of love,” says Jim, who joined the Progressive Players in 1979. “When the company celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1980 a booklet was produced which listed all our productions up to that time. Although we have lots of scrapbooks and mementos in the theatre, that 1980 booklet was never added to. I thought that maintaining an up-to-date list would be of interest to other members, particularly the newer ones.”

Then, in 2011, Jim was asked by the company’s management committee if he would like to adapt his work into an online archive, complete with pictures. He was delighted to oblige, and in early 2012 the All the Plays website went live. It quickly proved to be a useful and popular resource.

“We were contacted by an academic researcher, Marina Cano,” Jim says. “She was writing a book about stage versions of the works of Jane Austen, and discovered information on our site about an adaptation of Emma produced by the Progressive Players in 1944. That play was in fact written by one of our founder members, Madeleine Hope Dodds. I was happy to provide Marina with some material for her book, Jane Austen and Performance, which was published to critical acclaim.”

The contents of that original All the Plays website have been brought over to form an integral part of this website you’re looking at now, which was launched a few months ago after being built by Team Valley Web of Gateshead. The former site will close towards the end of the year.

All the Plays is a huge reference work, and growing with each new production we stage. It’s arranged in decades, showing play titles in order of presentation. There are also two handy A to Z lists of play titles and playwright names, so all the bases are covered for anyone searching for a particular piece of information. And it’s also searchable; enter a keyword or phrase, and you’ll be rewarded with all the valid results. But be warned; it’s chock full of spoilers!

Check it out. Click on All the Plays in the main menu, and start browsing through more than 100 years of Progressive Players history!

Oh, and remember those four people we mentioned at the start of this blog? The plays in question are:

Katherine Howard (2011)
An Evening With Gary Lineker (2012)
Anastasia (1955 and 1969) and The Anastasia File (2009)
Lloyd George Knew My Father (1975)