It has been a book nearly 60 years in the making, but now the definitive history of the King’s Lynn Players has been published.
Such a story could only possibly be written by one man; someone who has devoted much of his life to nurturing amateur dramatics in Lynn – Eddie Lyon.
On Saturday, in a book launch sponsored by the Lynn News, the first copies of the booklet were eagerly snapped up by visitors to the True’s Yard fisherfolk museum in North Street, Lynn.
True’s Yard has published the book, which describes itself as “dedicated to all the hundreds of members who have, in enjoying their hobby, found friendship and pleasure whilst ‘Treading the Board’, whether that has been in acting, music and dance or in the numerous aspects of behind the scenes”.
The preface also takes care to praise “the many thousands who have made up the audiences over the years and given encouragement and plaudits to those taking part and to the many charities who have benefited.”
Mr Lyon, who was accepted as a junior member of the Players in 1947 when he was a curtain boy for its production of The Vagabond King, said it was appropriate that the launch took place at True’s Yard.
“I am a North Lynner,” he said, “from Loke Road. Also the first time I was involved onstage with the King’s Lynn Players (as a tap dancer) was in 1949 just yards from True’s Yard at the Pilot Cinema.
“I was in Showboat and remember how we had to go to the Fisherman’s Return pub next door – whose landlady was known as Aunt Charlotte – to change, come rain or shine!”
Mr Lyon went on to appear in many shows and direct more than 100 productions.
He said that he had set his editor, Arthur Paynter, a very stiff task as originally he had included 41 pages of names of people involved in the history of the Players. The history of the Players as outlined in the book, goes back just a little beyond Mr Lyon’s time even, to 1944. Despite the wartime conditions, a small band of enthusiasts decided to get together for providing theatrical entertainment in those difficult days.
Assembled by Hal Shaw, a professional actor and producer of many years standing, the first production was The Rotters, by HF Maltby.
It was staged at Gaywood Park School Hall in May 1944, with tickets starting from 1/6.
The book costs £5. Profits raised from the sale of the book will go to the True’s Yard Museum.