The Audley Players are an amateur group who are based in the local theatre which was established in the late 1960's in a building that had once housed the parish's only cinema. The Audley Players themselves were formed before this date and often performed in the village hall until they took over occupancy of the Palace Cinema.
Since then, the group has grown in size with members participating backstage, on stage and front of house. Audley Theatre produces at least 3 productions a year ranging from pantomimes to serious dramas.
The building that is home to the Audley Players has not always been a theatre, it was initially a cinema later becoming a bingo hall and then in 1967 Audley Theatre.
1910-1960 | Hollywood Arrives in Audley
In 1910 construction started in Audley to create the village's first and only cinema, and during its 50 year run, people from Audley and its surrounding parishes flocked to see the latest films. The cinema doors were first opened in 1911 and, to commemorate the crowning of George V, the building was christened 'The Coronation Palace' – though this name became 'The Coronation Cinema', and later 'The Palace Cinema'. Audley cinema was hugely popular, and there are still many who fondly remember the Saturday matinee 'penny rush' shows.
1960-1967 | Full House to Empty House
1960 saw the end of an era for Audley as The Palace Cinema closed down leaving the parish without a picture house. However the building still remained in use as for a short time it became the village bingo hall, although sadly this also closed down and the building was once more put up for sale. The building stood as an empty shell - in darkness, with mildewed seats and wiring falling from its walls, outside Victorian spider-ridden loos, and no dressing rooms – merely a metal lean-to at the rear of the main building behind the cinema speakers and screen. The old piano which had accompanied the silent films was dumped in rotting, oil-covered straw in the generating room in the driveway.
1967-1969 | A Theatrical Transformation
Audley Players had rehearsed and performed in the local village hall but in the March of 1967 the members began viewing the old Palace Cinema as a potential new base. In April negotiations began for the purchase of the building with just £30 in the bank and by May the sale was completed and the conversions to Audley Players' new home started on the 16th June 1967. April 1969 saw the official opening of Audley Theatre by Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch. Five months later, in September, the curtains finally rose on the production 'All In Good Time' and for the first time the old cinema building saw live entertainment.