The Outback Players owes its existence to a group of visionaries with a burning desire to bring amateur theatre to the local community at Alligator Creek just south of Townsville. At a meeting of interested and enthusiastic people in 1992, The Outback Players (TOPs) was formed with the object: to foster interest in dramatic art and develop personal skills by the production of plays, the holding of workshops and other theatre activities. The group has realised the objective every year through the staging of a wide range of theatre activities, and in doing so, has provided quality entertainment to many appreciative audiences. TOPs became an Incorporated Association in March 1999.
The very first event taged by TOPs was Christmas Carols and a play reading in December 1992 at what was then Melville’s Pioneer Tavern at Alligator Creek. This entry into the world of the dramatic arts has been followed by a wide range of amateur theatre activities that includes plays, pantomimes, play readings, theatre restaurants, as well as fun events such as Outrageous Balls, Theatre Sports and Karaoke to name a few.
TOPs main venue became the Alligator Creek Bowls & Recreation Club in Parkland Road, Alligator Creek after the first stage of that organisation’s club house was erected. The initial productions were staged “under canvas”, with only the actors enjoying the limited cover afforded by the partly completed building. Eventually when the club house was extended, the group had a four-piece demountable stage manufactured and stored its props and other equipment in an on-site railway wagon known affectionately as “Betty Box Car”. Betty is still in service today but in another location.
The Theatre Group has tackled some very challenging productions over the years, including Steel Magnolias, Riders to the Sea, Dark Brown and Chamber Music. It was at the Bowls Club that “Alley” the alligator was conceived and after many hours of sewing, created as a visual character around which a pantomime was written and performed. Two very successful theatre restaurants were also staged at this venue, Desperadoes and I knew the Bride.
The association with the Bowls & Recreation Club ended in 2002 when it was decided that a more permanent home was required so that props, wardrobe, stage and associated lighting and sound equipment, could be stored in one location. The new location is known as “The Player’s Palace”, an unused warehouse whose owner Mrs Pat Bolger generously permits us to use. TOPs staged a highly successful 8 performance season of a self-written theatre restaurant “Tequila Springs” at the Palace in September/October 2004. It was a pleasure to rehearse and perform in the one location.
Over the last twelve years TOPs has also entered the NQ Festival of One Act Plays (FOOAP) in Townsville on eight occasions, and has secured seven awards. TOPs also took the play Lemonade to the Central Highlands Theatrefest held at Capella in June 2000 and won the Best Female Actress award.
TOPS is funded primarily through the staging of plays and theatre restaurants. Over the years we have also received sponsorship from local businesses for many productions as well as funding from the Townsville City Council for performing at community events such as Family Fun Days, Welcoming Babies, Hopscotch, and Puppets in the Park. We have also applied for and received funding from The Breakwater Island Casino Community Benefit Fund and monies received have been used to assist with the purchase of good quality sound and lighting equipment.
TOPS promotes itself as an organisation that encourages participation at all levels. Our membership ranges in age from 8 to 83 years and our “have a go” attitude has identified many talented people who are prepared to take on roles such as acting, directing, set building, and management of wardrobe and props. New members are always most welcome. Interested people should write to us at PO Box 972, Castletown, Hyde Park, 4812.