In 1968, when the late, Sid Walmsley moved from Virden, Manitoba, Canada to the Koko Platz area in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, he made it known among a few neighbours that he and wife, Dorothy, were interested in starting a community theatre group. That is the reason why most of the first membership came from the Koko Platz area where Prairie Players Theatre Group had its beginnings. Work on the first production, “Blithe Spirit”, began in early 1969 and, directed by Sid, was produced in the PCI (Portage Collegiate Institute) Auditorium in May of that year. The cast consisted of: Virgil Holmes, Dorothy Walmsley, Wanda Ryder, June Ford, Eileen Ford, Ed Ford and Gracie Fitzell. (Wanda Ryder is still part of the group today.) Lighting was done by Danny Ryder, with props by June Holmes, and the prompter was Vicci Cassidy. Others who helped with stage-building, as well as getting the group organized, were: Harold Empey, George Cassidy, Malcolm Ford, Errol Fitzell and George Ryder. By the time preparations were underway for the 1969 Fall Production, “A Christmas Carol”, many more people – adults as well as children – had become involved. Although Prairie Players has always been an adult group, when the troupe mounted large productions, such as Christmas pantomimes, children were also included. The PCI Auditorium was also used for “A Christmas Carol”, but the following Spring, the theatre at Southport (a former Air Force Base 5 minutes south of Portage la Prairie) became available for use by the group. The Southport Theatre was used from then until 1999, when the William Glesby Centre was built. “The Cemetery Club” was the first play performed at the Glesby Centre and marked Prairie Players’ 30th year as community entertainers. It’s Live Theatre at its best!
Prairie Players meets once a month (on the second Tuesday of each month) from September to May. There’s usually a short meeting and windup in June. Meetings are held at 7:00 pm at the William Glesby Centre, 11 2nd St. N.E., Portage la Prairie. Enter through green Stage Door on west side. Anyone interested in joining, or just seeing what Prairie Players is all about, is welcome to attend any of the meetings.
UPDATE: As of March 2020 all meetings have been suspended because of COVID-19. Once we’re back will list the meeting dates.
ANOTHER UPDATE: As of 2022, we are back in business!
Association of Community Theaters of Manitoba
Prairie Players is a member of the Association of Community Theaters of Manitoba (A.C.T. Manitoba), an organization of similar groups from across the province devoted to the promotion and development of amateur live theatre in Manitoba.
- President – Rosa Albanese Rawlings
- Vice-President – Rita Carignan
- Secretary – Lisa Marie Tessier-Burch
- Treasurer – Pam Stinson
- Members at Large:
- Jon Jonasson
- Tammy Roberts