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The History of SMP

Our organization began at St. Martin’s Anglican Church in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. It was 1982 when a parishioner, Lisa Broughton, initiated the performance of two religious plays by Dorothy Sayers: The Zeal of Thy House and he Man Born to be King. However, it was ten years later in 1992 that Bill Bourns, the then Choir Master and Organist at St. Martin’s Church, encouraged a group to present a Victorian Evening. Following that, two presentations of the Gilbert & Sullivan play Trial by Jury were staged in April of 1993, produced and directed by Bill. In those early days the group was simply referred to as “St. Martin’s Choir and Friends”.

In 1994 a cabaret, produced and directed by Peter Isaac and Cathy Dallimore, was staged. The Players really took root, however, when Howard and Cathy Dallimore and Peter and Valerie Isaac put forward the idea of presenting an English pantomime. The result in 1996 was a four-show run of Cinderella, put together by a group of about 90 people calling themselves “St. Martin’s Players”. In 1997 the panto was Babes in the Woods followed by Red Riding Hood in 1998. The next year, for a change of pace, another cabaret was produced: Players 99.

Each year thereafter SMP has produced a stunning array of pantomimes and other comedies:

In 2003, to maintain financial integrity, the members decided to incorporate the society. On the 13th of February, 2003 SMP Dramatic Society was officially incorporated under the Society Act of British Columbia.

While SMP is a separate entity open to all, the Society continues its affiliation with St. Martin’s, where it stores its equipment and performs almost all of its work. There is a current membership of about 170 people comprised of a combination of individual and family memberships. The family memberships, in fact, represent the bulk of our members by far.

One explanation for this is that it has always been important to include children in the shows. Over the years, however, the number of children wanting to take part grew to exceed the opportunities to perform. To fill this gap a youth production was decided upon and in December of 2004 the one-act play The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was staged, followed in 2005 by Tongue Twisted. In December of 2006 the youth presented a two-act modern-day panto, If the Shoe Fits. In May 2008 they performed Comic Book Artist and since then:

SMP has issued five life memberships: Irene Alexander, Marjorie and Dick Whiteside, Des Harris and Simon Drake. Irene is an artist extraordinaire, having spent countless hours designing programmes and posters and producing some wonderful set painting. Marjorie spoke the very first words in the 1996 Cinderella and she and Dick have been involved either on stage or off in almost every production since Trial by Jury. Marjorie passed on in July, 2013. Des acted in almost every SMP production since the role of Baron Hardcastle in the first Cinderella, either in strong roles or in the chorus. Des passed away in January 2012. Simon Drake has been involved in one way or another in every show since he appeared as one of the ugly sisters in our first pantomime, Cinderella. He has contributed in many other ways and served as one of our founding directors. He is also a member of other community theatre groups and has done much to promote SMP.