English-language theatre group stages comedy double bill

English-language theatre group stages comedy double bill
The Stockholm Players are veteran performers on the Swedish stage. Jennifer Heape meets the group as they put the last preparations in place for the autumn season.

With over 60 members from all nationalities, the Stockholm Players is the oldest known English-language theatre group in Sweden, dating back to the 1920s.

The Players stage several productions throughout the year and for their autumn season they offer a double bill of comedy.

Santaland Diaries, originally written as a one man show by David Sedaris, has been reworked for the Stockholm Players, who will perform it as an ensemble piece.

The cuttingly satirical three person comedy tells the story of several jaded ‘Santa’s Elves’ working at Macy’s in the New York.

“It’s definitely adult humour and quite a twisted take on Christmas,” smiles Sheila Widingsjö, one of the three elves in question.

Director Ellissa Nagle explains why she decided on the Santaland Diaries:

“It’s a tough time of year for many people – the transition from summer to winter can be difficult. So we wanted to do something really funny.

“Sedaris is such a clever and ironic playwright. I found myself laughing out loud on the subway when I was reading the text for the first time, so I thought it would be perfect for our autumn production.”

The second part of the comedy double bill, The Ladybirds by British author Tony Layton, is set in a typical English countryside village.

Funnily enough, the play centres around the goings-on of an amateur theatre society after the arrival of a dramatic new director who strives to rescue the group after the desertion of their entire male cast.

“It will definitely appeal to Brits. The play is full of very dry, sarcastic humor,” says director Anna Cottle, herself from the Isle of Man.

“The show has lots of twists and turns, it’s a great watch”.

Anyone is welcome to get involved with the Stockholm Players and volunteers can offer their services for anything from costume design to staffing the concessions stand during performances.

“Although the Players were started as an British group, we are truly international now, with members from all over the world. We even have Swedes joining us as an opportunity to improve their English,” explains Tom Howland, Chair of the Stockholm Players.

The society is run exclusively by volunteers and while for some it is just a hobby and a great way of socializing, for others it is a professional occupation.

A self confessed ‘love refugee’ and full-time actor, Josh Lenn moved to Stockholm from America earlier this year.

Lenn, who stars as one third of the elf trio in Santaland Diaries, is hoping that his activities in amateur theatre will help him on the road to cracking the Swedish job market:

“I not only enjoy the social side of the group, but I am hoping that it will also help me further my acting career in Sweden”.

Fellow elfin cast member, Neil Martin-Banks is another who sees the group as a springboard to an acting career in Sweden.

A full-time actor from London, Martin-Banks came to Stockholm three years ago: “I was attracted to the Stockholm Players because although being an amateur group, they have a very professional outlook.”

“I just love Stockholm, I’ll never go back to the UK. I got to build my first snowman last year for the first time in a decade!”

Whether theatre is a hobby or a professional interest, or you just fancy a good laugh to brighten up the dreary November nights, the Stockholm Players autumn production promises to be a hilarious evening’s entertainment.

Santaland Diaries and The Ladybirds will be showing at the Teater Replica on the following dates:

Nov 5th, 6th & 7th – 7.30pm

Nov 8th – 3pm, 7.30pm

Tickets are 150kr or 100kr for students, pensioners and group bookings.

For more details, please see the Stockholm Players website.