Death By Design in Ditchling

Death By Design in Ditchling with Ditchling Players poster

Some readers may have clicked on this article due to the rather provocative title, but avid readers of CommunityAd will be fully aware that we never report on such ghastly things. No, this article is to prompt our readers in the direction of the latest production from the Ditchling Players, Death By Design.

Death By Design production group, The Ditchling Players group are over 75 years old, as Debbie, the Chair Person since 2013 tells us “technically, its first performance was in 1946, although Ditchling actors were performing in the 1920s as the Ditchling Dramatic Circle. We have a rich and impressive theatrical history, with links to famous names like Joy and Leon Sinden; Richard Briers; Martha Kearney and Jamie Theakston”.

The White Horse Inn is stage to the current production which delivers theatrical marriage of murder and comedy, a winning combo I think you’d agree. Ahead of their first performance, Death By Design, on May 11th, CommunityAd had the pleasure of a chat with Debbie who considers herself privileged to call her the ‘Current chair person’.

“For me, the most rewarding part is seeing the joy that our productions bring to both the audience and the performers. The Players has a brilliant, hard-working committee, and every production is such an immense team effort. And in light of the challenging two years, we’ve all had, it’s even more important to be able to bring communities together through theatre”.

Why is it so important for a community like Ditchling to have a theatre group and access to live performances?

I think the pandemic has reinforced the importance of community groups pulling people together. Ditchling has a very strong community and a lot of traditional groups (Morris dancers, Village Fair etc), and The Players provides another opportunity for villagers to come together and entertain – or be entertained! Both are as important and give residents an interest outside of their normal lives. And even if you’re not interested in acting, there are so many different skills needed to keep a theatre group running: woodwork and set building; costume making; setting, maintenance and operation of lights and sound; publicity and design; online activity; finance; direction; writing; organisation… the list is almost endless! There are so many skilled people in Ditchling that there should be something for everyone.

Also, why is it so crucial that the community support groups such as your own now more than ever?

There’s more choice everywhere nowadays – you can shop online at the click of a button; if you don’t like the TV programme you’re watching, you can flick around the hundreds of alternatives until you find something you do like. It’s the same for local amateur theatre – there are groups all over Sussex offering different types of entertainment. Musicals, traditional plays, new productions, comedy… there’s usually something around. But with more choice, there come casualties. Many of the local groups that were suffering from falling audience numbers before the pandemic have finally closed down. People have the choice to travel a little further to see something that suits them – so local theatre needs to adapt. And Ditchling has a strong community – we need to rally around to support our local groups to ensure their survival. 


With that in mind, why should our readers be making a note of Weds 11th – Sat 14th May? 

Aha! Our next production is a real treat – Death By Design. It’s a comedy in the style of an Agatha Christie thriller. Anyone who enjoyed Private Lives will love this – the characters are all reminiscent of the most extreme Noël Coward roles, complete with cutting wit. It’s really very funny – we haven’t completed a rehearsal yet without falling about in fits of laughter! We have 5 performances – 7.30 pm Weds-Sat, plus a matinee at 2.30 pm on the Saturday. Tickets are available from or from the White Horse (cash only, please!). 


If there are any readers who have harboured thespian thoughts for a while, why should they reach out and get involved with the group?

Because we have so much fun! Ditchling Players is one of the few drama groups that really are welcoming and inclusive. We have open auditions and are always open to suggestions for new plays and productions. Typically we produce 2 plays a year. It’s hard work, but you’ll make friends for life.

It seems like a friendly inclusive organisation where there are opportunities both on and off the stage?

Yes – see my list above! And if you’re interested in learning about any of the areas (especially set building and technical), we can teach you! It’s like one big family, where we pass down skills to the next generation to keep it all going. 

So what are you waiting for readers the White Horse Inn is the place to be for pints, pleasantries, murders and hearty laughs between the 11th and 14th of May that is.


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