Previous Productions/Events



The New Hardy Players continue the tradition of perform a seasonal selection of poetry readings, carols and a mummers play at Hardy’s home. The Mummers play featured in Hardy’s novel, ‘The Return of the Native’. Hardy was fascinated by rural traditions and had Mummers perform at Max Gate one Christmas.


The New Hardy Players, The Ridgeway Singers, and The Madding Crowd lead the mass choir and band from Hardy’s Cottage to Stinsford Church, singing the old carols and reenacting scenes from ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’.


Review by Joanna Davis for Dorset Evening Echo ‘THE more they perform, the bigger and better they get…’ ‘This outdoor production … comes to joyous life’ ‘The large cast bring an atmosphere of warmth, fun and optimism to the complex plot in a production with music and songs, sheep shearing and haymaking, the perfect way to celebrate Hardy’s best loved work in this beautifully told story of loyalty and love directed by Howard Payton.’ IMG_2125IMG_2115IMG_2141


Capture Review by Marion Cox for the Dorset Evening Echo Review by Fanny Charles for The Fine Times Recorder The New Hardy Players were delighted to collaborate with Dorchester Ballet Club on this production of The Trumpet Major. The four Harlequin dance interludes in the play were devised by Lucy Bishop with Alastair Simpson and Penny Levick, and performed superbly by Rhiannon Bennett, Gloriana Davies, Daisy Essex, Clover Kellet, Isabel Harrold and Amelia Smeaton. ballet


Arm Tea with Mr Hardy. Guests included T.E. Lawrence and Siegfried Sassoon. Directed by Andrew Munro IMG_5044

High Tea with Mr Hardy.

Guests to include Sir James Barrie and some of our younger NHP members in excerpts of Peter Pan. Peter Pan

Poetry reading

Devised and led by Sonia Morris and Sue Worth IMG_5041


Under The Greenwood Tree

These are times of change…The New Hardy Players bring Under The Greenwood Tree to the stage at the Corn Exchange, where Thomas Hardy saw the original Hardy Players perform the first dramatization of this most light-hearted and humorous of the Wessex novels in 1910. The 2016 adaptation had been written by renowned actor, playwright and director Jack Shepherd (Inspector Wycliffe) and cleverly tackles the social changes which rock the small community of Mellstock. “There can be few better ways of welcoming the festive season than watching the New Hardy Players perform Thomas Hardy’s warm hearted story of Dorset country people of yesteryear which feature their traditional Christmas celebrations” Marian Cox at the dorset Echo. img_1555 casterbridge

A Hardy welcome

Step back in time 90 years for a unique evening of live theatre at Max Gate. We enjoy the company of Mr and Mrs Thomas Hardy, plus their illustrious literary guest, and a few of the colorful characters from Hardy’s novels. While Mrs Hardy entertains in the dining room, the domestic staff gossip and grumble in the kitchen. Thomas struggles with a particularly awkward stanza in his study, and The Hardy Players enact a dramatic scene in the bedroom, complete with costumes, music and dancing.


The Return of the Native

A new treatment of the story written by Howard and Alison Payton and directed by Howard Payton for the 10th anniversary of Norrie Woodhall’s 100th birthday request that the New Hardy Players be reformed to perform a play to celebrate her centenary.

Original music for the production was composed by Alastair Simpson


Wessex Scenes

This work by Thomas Hardy was written in 1916, halfway through the First World War, to raise funds for the Red Cross. It was culled by Hardy from his longer dramatic work, “The Dynasts”. Our performance was the first since those in 1916, and we are grateful to the Dorset County Museum for supplying us with the original playscript.

Nineteenth century cartoon

Reviews from Audience comments: “Marvelous costumes in a lovely setting. The whole thing looked fantastic!” ” The sound was really good, I could hear every word. It’s often very difficult to hear the actors at outdoor performances. Well done!”


The Woodlanders

A unique and magical production capturing the woodland spirit of Hardy’s most poetic novel Based on an adaptation by Emily Fearn

Front: Connor Dooley (Giles Winterbourne). Centre, left to right: Sophie Cridland (Grace Melbury); Robert Cole (Dr Fitzpiers); Emma Hill (Mrs Charmond). Back: Chris Pullen (Mr Melbury).Front: Connor Dooley (Giles Winterbourne). Centre, left to right: Sophie Cridland (Grace Melbury); Robert Cole (Dr Fitzpiers); Emma Hill (Mrs Charmond). Back: Chris Pullen (Mr Melbury). Photo: Howard Payton.

See a couple of short excerpts from the play, performed to celebrate Thomas Hardy’s birthday on 1 June 2013, outside County Hall in Dorchester, on You Tube


The London Hermit or Rambles in Dorsetshire

Written by John O’Keefe in 1798 while on holiday in Lulworth, this very amusing Georgian comedy surprised and and delighted an enthusiastic audience.
The play was performed as a dramatised reading by the New Hardy Players and guests in the Victorian Gallery at Dorset County Museum. The reading was inspired by the Georgian Faces exhibition and directed by Tim Laycock.The play was seen again in the place that inspired it and much of it written – West Lulworth. Tim Laycock directed the acted and costumed reading as part of the Cultural Olympiad in May 2012. £517 was raised for the Joseph Weld Hospice.


A Life of Three Strands

A Life of Three Strands was co-written by Devina Symes and Norrie Woodhall and drew on Norrie’s direct knowledge of Hardy. It was performed in various venues around Dorset. Hardy himself had referred to the three great interests in his life as ‘the three strands’ – they were architecture, the study of the classics and his love of the countryside. “The rich dialect along with the lyrical tones of the works were attractively preserved and neatly interspersed with some of the gentle comic overtones which lighten Hardy’s early novels.” Dorset Echo, June 2007


Under The Greenwood Tree

Earthy retelling of Hardy favourite: The New Hardy Players’ abridged performance of Under the Greenwood Tree captured all the charm and candour of the original work.” Dorset Echo, September 2006


Return of the Native

In the autumn of 2004 Olive Blackburn and Devina Symes asked Norrie Woodhall what she would like for her 100th birthday the following year. Without hesitation, she asked that the Hardy Players be reformed to perform a play to celebrate her centenary. By chance soon afterwards, Harry Tilley’s 1920 adaptation of The Return of the Native came to light, which Tim Laycock re-worked for a contemporary audience. The play, which showed at four venues throughout Dorset, including the home of Julian and Emma Fellowes – the patrons of the New Hardy Players – raised nearly £3000 for Norrie’s chosen charity: Weldmar Hospicecare Trust.

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