Member Profile

Tom McMeeking

Member since 2002

How and when did you discover Adel Players? 

In October 2002, I heard about The Adel Players through a family friend: Richard Guyatt, who was part of The 41 Club at the time, along with another family friend, Mike Andrews, who lived down the road from my parents in West Park. It was Mike who suggested to Richard that I should come along to help with the latest play at the time: The Opposite Sex, by Richard Tristram, which was beginning its Play Week. Having never done drama before (except A Level English, where we read the plays aloud to help learn them) and having failed a school play audition, I was given a lift by Mike on Play Week Sunday with some trepidation. Coming from a background in school Public Speaking, all I felt I could offer was a large ego and loud voice! Would that be enough? As it turned out it was perfectly ok. I was welcomed with lots of friendly faces. The great thing about joining on Play Week Sunday is that you get to meet a large amount of people in a very short time as, as a rule, most of the group will be there to see the first transfer from rehearsals to stage (one of the best moments for drama lovers to witness). From that day onwards I was hooked, being even more amazed to find my name generously in the play programme as Assistant Stage Manager – my first ever job with The Adel Players - having only been involved for a few days!  

What was the first production you were involved in and how were you involved?

Having joined during the Play Week of The Opposite Sex I was asked to come to an audition for the next play of the season: The Devil At Midnight, a thriller by Brian Clemens. I was told by its Director, John Stakes, that there was a possibility of a role onstage this time. This was the part of Billy, a thug, who was helping his sister, Nicki White, terrorise Jack and Liz Burns, both physically and psychologically, during the play. I remember I was in khaki uniform and I had a knife and a gun and that my first entrance ever onstage was fairly dramatic! It was a really enjoyable part to play, if hard work, as I was constantly onstage during Act Two with only one line to say – at the end! It gave me the acting bug from that point onwards.

What is involved in finding and choosing suitable plays?

Finding and choosing a suitable play for The Adel Players to do in a season is not an exact science. The final arbiters on plays for a season are the Committee, which I was a member of for three years. There are a few essentials for any Committee member to consider. Firstly, the play has to be strong, both in terms of its writing and characterisation. Secondly, it has to be a play which is practically possible to translate on to the Adel Memorial Hall stage, or into the hall (if we are to do the play in the round).  However, this is only the first of many hurdles, simply because not all the other Committee members may agree that the play in question is either good, or practical, in terms of staging. For a play to form part of an Adel Players season it must be agreed by a majority of the Committee. This makes play selection one of the most time-consuming aspects of Committee business, as members (almost always!) take sides on their favourites. I can still remember some epic Committee meetings where the arguments carried on very late into the night! Some plays have even been vetoed by the Committee in the past, even though the play has – a deal sealer normally - a willing person to direct it. I have my own favourites and have kept a record of all the plays I’ve read since I joined the Committee in 2004 and subsequently became a one-man Plays Sub-Committee in 2007. I still loan plays out from Wakefield Library to this day. 

What was your favourite production that you have been involved in?

This would have to be my first proper acting role, in Dangerous Corner (2007).  I really enjoyed the whole process, from having to learn lines (for the first time ever) to having to know where to stand or sit at any one time. My fellow cast were all great, as was the Director, Mike Andrews, who guided me through it all with few problems. I have said to Mike many times since, that the months I was involved in his play were the happiest since I joined The Adel Players.

Tell us about a particularly memorable incident that you recall at Adel Players.

I am still remembered for spilling gloss brown paint all over the Gent’s Dressing Room floor during a rehearsal of Season’s Greetings in January 2006 (which was very funny for everyone else at the time except me!). Worst, I was trapped by the paint for most of the rehearsal and the longer I was in the room I was almost hallucinating due to the paint fumes! The Brown Paint Incident is still reminded to me whenever painting is involved. It is also why the cupboards in the Gent’s Dressing Room are all brown now!

What makes Adel Players so special?

Adel Players is so special because, though it has the label 'amateur', the society goes about its business in a serious and professional manner. The result is – from what I’ve seen as a member - high quality productions with no challenge being too great in terms of play selection for Adel Players, whatever the genre.

How has Adel Players improved your life?

Certainly I’m much more self-confident since I joined Adel Players, both in terms of speaking in public and socially.  I enjoy being on show and having cut my teeth acting – one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – nothing in public phases me anymore (I was a naked Greek after all!), though I still always get nervous beforehand.

Adel Players is certainly good at match-making! I’ve been going out with someone else in the group for over six months and we are very happy together. I have made some very good friends along the way as well. Finally, I would argue that being part of Adel Players has improved my word power and my use of the English Language. This, in turn, has improved my writing skills, recently tested whilst doing a Masters in Politics at Leeds University. So the benefits of membership far outweigh any negatives. I feel I am constantly developing my drama skills within the group and certainly I am very ambitious as to future goals that I would like to achieve at Adel Players.

What are your favourite social activities with the group?

My favourite social activity remains the play readings. It is great to read for a part without the pressure of auditioning. They have increased my self-confidence a great deal over the years, particularly in terms of trying to learn how to do accents and characterisation.  Equally, as I’m interested in finding future plays for The Adel Players, it is fascinating to hear a play read out loud. Sometimes my opinion on a play has changed as a result of a play reading. Most importantly, play readings are a chance to have some fun with friends in a relaxed atmosphere, usually with some food in the middle or end of proceedings.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining Adel Players?

Whatever your knowledge or drama background, join! Everyone is welcome.

Where do you see Adel Players in 10 years time?

Still thriving, as one of the best amateur drama groups in West Yorkshire, continuing to attract the most talented people in the region.