Tockwith Players have bought eight headset microphones, bringing their total number to 12, thanks to grants from North Yorkshire councillors Andy Paraskos, member for Spofforth with Lower Wharfedale and Tockwith, and Cllr Arnold Warneken, member for Ouseburn and the chair of Tockwith with Wilstrop Parish Council.
Between them, the councillors provided £1,000 to add to almost £400 raised by the group. Each North Yorkshire councillor has a budget of £10,000 a year to allow them to respond to local needs by supporting specific community-led activities.
The chair of Tockwith Players, Sue Corbett, said the headset microphones helped to ensure that players can give their best performance and the audience can hear clearly, but to be used properly everyone on stage needed to be wearing one. That is why more were needed.
Sue Corbett, said:
We want to give everyone a chance, particularly the children.
We had a lot of children singing solo in this year’s pantomime. To see the children singing with the mics was just amazing. It is something they will not experience elsewhere. It helps them to realise the potential of their voices.
It has given us an opportunity to build and do things for the future. The potential for the children is massive and they are the future, so if we can engage them, they will be the ones to push the group forward.
Tockwith Players were originally linked to the village primary school where they performed pantos in the 1980s, but as the group grew it moved to the village hall. It recently changed its name to the Tockwith Players Entertainment Society to reflect its widening variety of productions.
The group has a core of about 12 members, but more join for specific productions, particularly the pantomimes. The most recent, The Wizard of Wilstrop, is the group’s 25th panto. Some founder members are still in the group.
Cllr Paraskos regularly attends parish council meetings, so is well aware of the community’s needs:
The Players are a long-established part of village life. For decades, they have been bringing villagers together and promoting social inclusion and wellbeing. This simple addition to their equipment can help them fulfil that role even better in future.
Cllr Warneken is a strong supporter of the group, often offering to help backstage or front of house and once in recent years treading the boards as the Beast in a production of Beauty and the Beast.
Cllr Warneken said:
Having a group like Tockwith Players on the doorstep offers local people a great opportunity to pursue their creative interests, whether on the stage or behind it. For young performers, pantomime is certainly an instance where children should be both seen and heard. These microphones allow those taking part to enjoy a more professional experience, as well as ensuring the audience can enjoy performances to their full.
The new microphones will get plenty of use. The players have an improvised murder mystery coming up in February, followed by a play in April, then in July a “live at the village hall” event in which performers of all kinds are invited to take part. After that, it will be panto time again.