‘Amateur dramatics is a great way to meet new people’

In this week's My Spanish Career, The Local chats to Liz Mason, the President of The Madrid Players, an amateur dramatics group that puts on English-language theatre in the capital.

'Amateur dramatics is a great way to meet new people'
Liz Mason. Photo: Liz Mason
Where are you from in the UK? 
I was born in Bristol in the southwest of England I boarded at Badminton school when I was 11 as my parents moved to Somerset.
What brought you to Spain? 
It is strange but I have always felt that Spain is my native country. I had been coming to Spain for holidays ever since I was small. I guess the Spanish way of life had become a part of me in some way, so in 1989, after a bad break up, I packed my bags and decided to come and live here.
What do you love about living here?
The weather and the great social life. My first year here I remember quite distinctly how amazed I was at traffic jams at three or four in the morning and all the bars and restaurants downtown were overflowing – everyone eating, drinking and dancing, enjoying life to the full. 
And then in January going to my early morning classes, even though it was just below freezing, I didn't feel cold; the sun was shining and the sky was bright bright blue. Couldn't ask for more.
Any downsides of living in Spain?
Definitely all the paperwork and bureaucracy. It's a nightmare!
What do you miss most about your home country?
To be honest, I can't really think of anything. Bluebell woods…
Tell us about The Madrid Players. 
We are an amateur theatre group that has been putting on shows for over 50 years. All our productions are in English and we put on three or four shows a year – mostly classical plays but sometimes a musical show. We also put on our annual Christmas show in December.
We hold meetings, rehearse and organise workshops at our Club House and on Saturdays we run a workshop for children aged seven to 12. There is also a play reading group that meets once every two weeks.
Anyone who wants to participate has to become a member. Membership costs €35 for a year.

The Madrid Players production of Everyman in June 2015. Photo: The Madrid Players
What are the joys and challenges? 
Knowing that we provide a worthwhile service to the community is definitely a plus.
The greatest challenges are finding suitable theatres that are within our budget and of course getting the actors to volunteer for anything other than getting up on stage and performing… like tidying up the club house for example! 
What sort of people are in the theatre group? 
Anyone can become a member as long as they speak English. Age is not important – our youngest members start at seven and our oldest member is Pat Mason who is over 90… I think most people are under the impression that you have to be able to act to join a theatre group but that isn't the case – very often we need more people to help put on a show than perform… for example we need people to do the artwork for posters and programmes, to look for sponsors, to design and make the set, to make costumes, to make the props, to do the makeup, to produce the show, direct the show, to do the lights, the sound… the list is endless.

Some of The Madrid Players on stage. Photo: The Madrid Players/Facebook
What are the advantages for newcomers in joining the theatre group? 
It is a great way to meet new people, to learn new skills, and have fun… Right now more and more people are joining the group to practise English.
What are your plans for 2016? 
Right now we are holding auditions for our next show HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD, a musical, which opens mid-April. We are currently looking for musicians to help out with the music side.
We also have an exploratory reading project of a play by Yeats starting in February and we are planning to start a workshop for teenagers.
The plays for the rest of the year will be chosen by a new committee that starts in March. You can find out what is coming next by checking on our Facebook page and website

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