In December, 1966 a small theater group formed by Ed and Gillian Tyler with David and Linda Strohmier in Thetford, Vermont mounted its first production, The Long Christmas Dinner, by Thornton Wilder. Today the Parish Players perform in the Eclipse Grange a few hundred yards down Academy Road from their original home in the Thetford Hill Congregational Church. In the 50 years since our founding, the troupe has mounted nearly 350 productions.
Following the success of its first production, with encouragement from the community, the Parish Players mounted their second play, Jean Anouilh's The Madwoman of Chaillot, in the Eclipse Grange in the spring of 1967. Director Linda Strohmier adroitly fit a large cast and a Parisian street scene into the 18x12 foot stage area. Subsequent directors have used the Grange space in many creative configurations, including in the round.
The Parish Players shared the space with the Grange Association until 1992 when the agricultural society disbanded and turned the building over to the Parish Players. In 1997 the historic Grange was declared unfit for public events, necessitating a temporary suspension of productions. In 1998, with essential financial support from the community, the Parish Players conducted a major building restoration resulting in the theater space we enjoy today, seating up to 100 people.
The Parish Players is an incorporated not-for-profit organization staffed and run by volunteers. Our mailing list exceeds 600 Upper Valley patrons and players. We typically mount up to eight productions per year, including our annual Ten Minute Play Festival. Shows usually run 2-3 successive weekends, with occasional one-time events that have included readings, cabarets, balls, auctions, and even circuses. The typical budget for a show ranges from $1500-$3000, a remarkable record of thrift for high-quality live performance. We depend on ticket sales, individual donations, and foundation grants for support. Our Board of Directors, serving two-year terms and elected at our annual meeting in March, and Program Committee welcome proposals for production from the public.