The Abbots Langley Players (ALP) have been entertaining the village since their first production in 1957, but this year the group will be staging their first performance as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Open Stages Project.

ALP is just one of fewer than 100 amateur drama groups across the region that have been chosen to take part in the RSC’s second Open Stages project which aims to enhance the skills and re-forge the bond between amateur and professional theatre.

“It was almost disbelief at first, we thought they must have got it wrong, we were absolutely over the moon,” says Colette Holmes, director of the ALP’s, whose pitch for The Herbal Bed, originally written for the RSC by Peter Whelan, got them accepted on to the programme.

The amateur drama group has received professional training from 39 Steps director James Hawes who has watched the players rehearse and offered tips on sharpening their voice control and stage movements for the production.

Colette says: “There have been a couple of weekends where the group and I have visited the RSC in Stratford-Upon-Avon where we have been tutored by the professional actors and directors. We have even had training in stage combat, which is really fun. 

“It really has been a marvellous experience, the weekend workshops held exercises in movement and projections, it has been three years of drama school in one weekend," Colette adds.

The ALP feels honoured to be working with such a prestigious company where it has been able to gain a real insight into professional acting.

“The whole experience has been a lovely two-way partnership,” says Colette, “we have far more knowledge now and a little more insight into the techniques that are involved in utilising a play“.