The Ecumaniacs started in 1979 (first show Feb 1980) at St Augustine’s Church Hall in Whitchurch, Bristol. It was originally members of the church coming together to do something fun, which was then opened up to the local community.
In the early 2000s, the church and its hall was condemned (the roof collapsed!) and the group moved to Christ Church Hengrove, just a few minutes’ drive away. Unfortunately this upset a number of the original members who felt that it should either remain in the area (not really possible) or fold (not really fair!).
So the group moved to Christ Church and put on a number of excellent shows there, Cinderella in 2005 being a particular highlight.
In 2007, the chairman and director David Goddard left, which again seemed to spell the end of the group, but it was taken over once again by newer members, adverts were put out over the internet and in the paper and enough new people came along to make it possible to perform another pantomime, this time Mother Goose, which was a great success.
Since then the group has waxed and waned, with a small group of core members who have worked hard to get the shows produced. We have been blessed with a number of talented members, from singers, pianists, writers, directors, designers and electricians! Not to mention of course the epic actors which grace our small stage.
We perform every February half term, and we have also done occasional one off shows called Ecuvision. These are one night wonder charity events, based around the idea of Eurovision, where the members can perform solo songs and sketches etc to show case their talents, while raising lots of money for various charities – Harvey Hex, Wallace and Gromit and Special Friends to name a few.
We have a lot of fun at rehearsals, there is a lot of laughter among the hard work, and some strong friendships have grown from it – not to mention at least one marriage!
We have performed traditional pantomimes – Cinderella, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast among them, and also tested the waters with somewhat less traditional – Treasure Island, Rumpelstiltskin and our newest script, The Sword in the Stone!