The Player’s Guild of Hamilton, located at 80 Queen Street South, is the oldest continuing amateur theatre in North America. Next year will be their 140th year putting on high-quality productions using only volunteer actors, ones that already have a day job.
Dan Penrose, the current President of the Guild was kind enough to give me a behind-the-scenes tour of the Guild House and tell me all about its history and future. Take a look at the photos and catch a glimpse behind the curtain.
Guild house was originally built as a family home in 1878, long before the Player’s Guild purchased the property.
The property itself has a fascinating history. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I encourage you to read about it by clicking here.
In 1951, the Player’s Guild bought the property and has owned it ever since. In 1958, a rehearsal hall was built onto the south side of the structure. The history of the building is evident everywhere, as is the dedication of the Guild’s members in keeping the building and the group alive.
The entry way is home to a grand stair case leading to room after room of supplies, costumes, dressing rooms and rehearsal space. The main floor plays host to guests and audience members: most never see beyond it.
A sitting room, equip with a licensed bar, along with old memorabilia and awards that the Guild has won, accompany the stage on the main floor of the historic house.
It is the basement and upstairs floors are what really tell the story of the Guild, its history and its countless volunteers.
These stairs lead to the basement: containing a prop room full of all kinds of authentic old goods, donated by people over the years, a wood and paint shop for set design and a staircase right up to the stage.
The building is said to house three ghosts, after deaths and murders in the building. Walking through its historic corridors, I can completely understand how eerie this place would be alone or at night.
The prob and costume rooms contain a treasure of donated goods. From chests to record players, small trinkets to entire wardrobes, people have been donating to the Guild for decades, knowing that in some way their stuff will be used in a production.
Throughout the building there is a feeling of history and of moving forward. Photos commemorate past shows but it seems everyone is working for the next one.
Being behind the scenes was great and the tour fascinating. Sadly, the photos don’t do it justice. Go see a show and check it out for yourself!