Curtains close in Penola… for now

CURTAINS CLOSE: The Penola Players secretary and playwright Annie Kilsby and president Marie Cheers are hoping this year’s anticipated annual performance can be held next year, with the 2020 event cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns. Picture: MOLLY TAYLOR

By Molly Taylor

THIS year is one of only a handful the Penola Players have not filled the Rymill Hall with its traditional warmth and laughter through its annual theatre performances.

The entertainment group have declared it will not be celebrating its 70th anniversary milestone this year with the Penola and surrounding region due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It was declared unviable for members to take the stage and perform a remake of British comedy film Not Now, Darling.

Group secretary and playwright Annie Kilsby said she and many others were looking forward to celebrating and being involved in the significant anniversary production.

Ms Kilsby said it would have also been fitting to provide an outlet of fun to the community during the current climate.

“I think it would have been great to put something on, but due to restrictions, it has not been an option,” she said.

“I think groups like this are very important. It is a morale booster and brightens things up for people.

“A lot of the time, we perform during winter and people drag themselves out to the hall where it is full of warm community spirit.”

Involved with the group since 1978, Ms Kilsby said this year’s chosen play was significantly special for her as it was the first production she was involved with when she began her amateur acting journey.

“I have been involved with Penola Players for over 40 years, beginning when I first moved to Penola and this play (Not Now, Darling) was the first I was ever involved in. Is a bit personal for me,” she said.

Not Now, Darling plans to be performed instead in 2021.

Ms Kilsby said performances had always been well-received by the community and believed they were something many looked forward to each year.

“I think it is just because it is different and quirky,” she said.

“People these days are so used to looking at computer screens and televisions, so to get out there and see people acting out a comedy is just out of the ordinary.

“People stop me in the street and ask when the next performance is and I think they love seeing people they know up on the stage.”

With Penola founded in 1850, the group morphed into what it is today after the Penola Dramatics Society was established in 1892.

In 1946, youth named the group The Younger Set and performed revues, before the offical The Penola Players was established in 1950.

Ms Kilsby said she and members were flabbergasted the group had survived and reached its 70-year milestone and thanked the community for its ongoing support.