'We can't wait to be back on stage'
Wayne Mann is a familiar face as a member of the cast in Teesdale Players’ productions. Having moved to Cotherstone – where his wife was born – with his family in the late 1990s, away from the stage he is a self-employed businessman, while during the summer months he spends weekends umpiring cricket matches in the North Yorkshire South Durham league.
Have you always been interested in the theatre – or is it something that came along later in life?
I have had a love of performing for as long as I can remember, even my working life (sales) is a bit of a performance.
I have done some radio presenting which is similar but the audience is less visible, obviously.
I love going to the theatre as often as possible and when I lived in London going to the west end was a real thrill.
What do you remember of your first time on stage?
I was aged about eight or nine and played Little Jake in the musical version of Annie Get Your Gun.
I was the youngest member of the cast and was well looked after by everyone. I can still remember most of the songs and even some of the lines.
What is it about being up on stage that keeps you coming back for more?
Oh, without doubt it’s the buzz you get from the audience, that instant feedback from them is unique.
How did you get involved with the Teesdale Players?
When I moved to Teesdale 20 years ago I was very keen to become a part of the local community.
I joined numerous groups in a bid to make friends and settle into an area that was very different from the one I had left.
Initially, I went along to watch the performance, then offered to help behind the scenes, and then almost without realising you find the director has cast you a small part on stage!
How would you describe the Teesdale Players as a theatre group – how does it fit into the Cotherstone community?
I would like to think it fits into the wider Teesdale community. The group haven’t always been based at Cotherstone and many members come from Barnard Castle and other villages.
Having said that, there is a great fondness in the village for its Am-Dram group and the performances are much anticipated by the residents.
It also contributes financially to many local charities and organisations from the money raised from performances.
And what’s the best thing about being part of the Teesdale Players?
Oh that’s easy, it’s the people, the members.
They are a wonderful diverse group of the most friendly, fun people to be with.
We just love meeting up and often just rehearse because we love being together.
Prior to the pandemic, the group performed two shows a year. What’s preference – the murder mystery or the panto?
The murder mystery is a relatively new thing but it’s growing all the time.
We alternate the panto with comedy plays annually – the cast does love a good comedy play.
But I’m sure most people would say we are best known for and give the most laughs to the audience with our colourful family pantomimes.
What has been your favourite Teesdale Players production – and what made it so good/memorable?
Without doubt it was our production of Allo Allo.
It was such an iconic TV show and the characters were so well known you could really perform each role in an exaggerated but recognisable way. The script was good, the costumes were great and the humour was brilliant.
How have you found the past few months?
I have missed my customers during lockdown and the travelling up and down the A1. I’m lucky to be able to travel all over the north of England with my work and feel blessed to meet people from Yorkshire and the North East. It’s a joy and never a chore.
I’m always happy to return to Teesdale and it’s been a good place to live during a pandemic.
Given the impact of Covid-19, has any thought been given as to how the players might be able to stage live theatre in the future?
We are all hoping that there is light at the end of the tunnel and normality will return later this year.
As a group we hope to meet socially this summer but we may not have enough time to put a production together in 2021 – but we will be even keener to go again once allowed.
Where can people find out more about the Teesdale Players?
The Teesdale Players are on Facebook or contact Stephen Lamb, at Doe Park, in Cotherstone, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.