Founded in 1944, the volunteer-based White Rock Players’ Club is a non-profit society with an established history that spans 74 years and more than 380 theatre productions (as of 2018).
For 15 years the White Rock Players’ Club performed in a converted store on Marine Drive. Then in 1958, they won the Dominion Drama Festival, which was the first time a community theatre had won the title of “Canada’s Best Theatre Club.” The White Rock Players used the prize money, along with funds raised within the White Rock community, to purchase 1532 Johnston Road, a former Jehovah Witness hall. Twelve members co-signed a mortgage, and using mainly volunteer labor they erected the stage block, which also still houses the dressing rooms, costume and props storage, and workshop. The hall became the auditorium, with 176 seats.
On March 12, 1960, the first performance opened in the new White Rock Playhouse. It was a great success and the White Rock Players never looked back. By 1966 they paid off the building and from that point on have been able to operate almost grant-free. In the early 1970’s a lobby was added to the front of the auditorium, containing a small concession, washrooms, and box office.
In 2004, to celebrate the club’s 60th anniversary, a project was launched to renovate the White Rock Playhouse with the help of the Rotary Club of White Rock. It re-opened in 2006 after exactly 9 months (!) with a new lobby, auditorium and balcony along with 218 new seats. Coast Capital Savings were a primary donor to the project and were granted naming rights, so the building is called the Coast Capital Playhouse, but is still wholly owned and operated by the White Rock Players’ Club.
Today, the White Rock Players’ Club is still a much-loved community theatre group, producing five shows a year, which include comedies, thrillers, dramas and the ever-popular Christmas Pantomime – in fact, the Club is very likely the longest continuous presenter of Pantomimes outside the UK, with a different show every year since 1954.
|Fred Partridge||Past President|
|Jackie Grant||Vice President|
|Heather Jane Robertson||Recording Secretary|
|Bryce Mills||Corresponding Secretary|
|Bruce Coombs||Member at Large|
|Andrea Olund||Member at Large|
|Rosemary Schuster||Member at Large|
|Charles Beuttner||Member at Large|
|Richard Smith||Member at Large|
|You mentioned “Pantomime”. What is that?||Also called a “Panto”, it has nothing to do with mime. Basically, it’s a light-hearted, comical, musical melodrama, usually based on a fairy tale. There’s always an outrageous Dame, bright costumes, silly songs, dances, double-entendre jokes, heroes, villains, and audience participation. Fun for all ages!|
|Why do actors say “Break a leg”?||It’s not as often thought, to be wishing someone bad luck so they have good luck. Actually, it refers to the actor making an entrance, usually through the curtains at the side of the stage, which are called “legs”.|
|What are “upstage” and “downstage”?||In the early days of theatre, the stage was sloped upwards to the back, so the audience could see what was happening there. It must have been difficult for the actors to seem to walk “normally”. Nowadays the audience sits on tiered seating.|
|What are “stage left” and “stage right”?||Left and right, looking towards the audience from the stage. In melodramas and Pantos, the good guys always enter from the right, the bad guys from the left. Factoid – the Latin word for “left” is sinister …....|
|Who are the Club’s financial sponsors?||We have none. We finance all our operations and productions by donations and by production, rental and parking revenues.|
|Does the Club receive grants from any level of government?||The City of White Rock discounts our property taxes. If they become available, we look forward to gaining grants to improve our facility and technical equipment. For instance, we are beginning to change our stage lights to LEDs, which are initially expensive but use far less power.|
|Why is it called “community theatre”?||Because it is theatre performed by people in our community, for our community.|
|Are the actors paid?||Only in applause! This is community theatre. All production staff and actors are volunteers. If Equity (actor’s union) people want to perform in a community theatre production (eg for experience or fun), they get a waiver from Equity.|
|Is community theatre worthwhile training for a professional career?||Several WRPC alumni have gone on to successful stage, TV and choreography careers. It’s a great way to find out if a) you’re any good, and b) if you like doing it!|
|Can anyone volunteer?||Yes! Anyone can audition to act in a show, or help with stage crew, set construction and decoration, props, costumes, and front-of-house ushering and concession.|
|Is it true that the Playhouse is haunted?||Many people have had strange experiences, like unexplained switching on and off of lights, music heard by just one person, odd feelings, etc. Paranormal investigators have checked it out, but there’s no definitive proof (is there ever?)|