Chat with a “Schollar” and a Loddon Player

For far too long auditoriums have been bare, stages and seats across the nation barren, so it’s joyous to be able to book a trip to the theatre once more. If you are a keen theatre goer and one who may find themselves scouring the websites for cheap West End tickets (if such a thing exists) then why not consider looking and booking locally, perhaps with The Loddon Players?


Local theatres and performance groups need their community to support them now more than ever as they look to bounce back after a year of turmoil, frustration and inactivity. With that in mind CommunityAd have dedicated this page to a superb local group of thespians known as The Loddon Players.


CommunityAd had the privilege of a chat with seasoned Player and fine thespian Steve Schollar who made his Loddon Players debut a decade ago in 2011. Steve fondly recalls “I appeared as a drunk husband in the farce ‘Key for Two’; my wife still insists I was type cast! I have been in seven separate productions since”.

The Players, though, were founded way back in 2005 by Chris Horton. The Loddon Players are a small and friendly amateur dramatics group based in the village, who generally meet twice weekly and put on two shows a year. However, the pandemic hindered that goal last year and The Loddon Players are hopeful that things are back to normal and looking bright for the theatre lovers of our community.

We quizzed Steve about his involvement with the group that he loves so dearly that he commutes in from Newbury twice a week just to be a part of it.


What is your role and what aspects do you enjoy the most?

I am an actor and occasionally a (very) reluctant Director, but the bit I enjoy the most is getting on stage and showing off. Loddon are like most ‘Am-Dram’ groups in that you tend to find yourself helping out where needed. So, I have sat on the LP committee, hand-delivered flyers, written publicity materials and been in the audience providing supportive applause and laughter.

The only thing they don’t let me near is set construction because I am hopeless. When I did offer to help set-build they sent me off to find a left-handed hammer and I’m still looking!


The last 18 months have been dramatic for all the wrong reasons, haven’t they? Why is it so important now more than ever that the local community support productions from groups such as yourselves?

Because if they don’t get involved, we won’t be around in future, and as the song says ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’. I’ve been involved with a number of different groups and the LP is the most grounded in the local community.

Some of our productions have been written by a local brewer (I won’t name Peter Cook of Sherfield Village Brewery; he’s actually terribly shy!) Our Chair, Peter Francis, runs Pennybridge Alpaca Farm a few miles away, and most of our cast and supporting crew are drawn from the village and the local area.


Performance and theatre have so many benefits to an individual’s wellbeing, have you seen this or experienced it yourself?

I have seen people’s self-confidence grow as a consequence of having to get up in front of a paying audience and remember words! Like many other collective activities, the act of attending a performance, meeting people and maybe sharing a few drinks and/or a meal brings people back together. Post-COVID, this will be even more important for our communities.


Why would you recommend interested readers get involved with the Players?

To paraphrase Led Zeppelin because it is a ‘whole lotta fun’. You give up two evenings a week to rehearse, or maybe a few hours here and there leading up to a long weekend when you set build. Or you may be designing and putting up posters or selling tickets via our ticket line, or on the door on the night.

Whatever your contribution it all leads (via a lot of laughs and one or two drinks in the ‘Shoes’) up to a production being watched and usually enjoyed by several hundred people, and when that goes well you never lose the ‘buzz’ of being able to say ‘I helped to do that’.


What makes it such a pleasant community to be a part of?

I love the buzz of the audience. Pre-show there is the anticipation of the performance, the glass of wine and saying some quick hellos to people you know/vaguely recognise/have no idea who they are, but they smiled at you.

And post-show the other glass of wine and chatting to people about what they have just watched and what they thought of it.  Our audiences are very largely drawn from the local area and they are so friendly and supportive.


The Club has been a part of our local community for quite some time haven’t they; how important is that community to its continued success?

Absolutely vital. We will not bring in large numbers from outside of Sherfield, but we can usually attract between 200-300 people for the run of a production.  Obviously, this helps to keep us solvent, but most importantly it gives us a reason to do it. Symbiosis in action!


Any dates our readers should be pencilling into diaries?

Absolutely! Put a few minutes aside each month between now and December 2021 to check our website and our Facebook page at The Loddon Players at Sherfield. We hope to return to the stage at the Village Hall possibly this year, but certainly in 2022.


So for your chance to see Steve and co on stage as The Loddon Players, please do keep up to date with the links above and we’ll be sure to bring you some more interviews with the rest of the talented folks behind the productions in future issues of your CommunityAd magazine.

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