Welcome to the Powderkeg Players.
Born in Melbourne’s west, the Powderkeg Players date back to the 70s and 80s where they staged several plays a year to a packed audience. We began life as the Dear Park Drama Group after a group of parents and teachers put on a Christmas production at Deer Park Primary school in 1971. The play was so well received that the group negotiated a lease with the Commonwealth Department of Supply on the Albion Explosive Factory on Station Road. With a small grant from the Sunshine City Council, the group turned the empty hall into the Powderkeg Playhouse and their home.
Opening in 1973, the Powderkeg Playhouse was a named in tribute to it’s former life as an explosive factory and shortly after the Deer Park Drama Group changed their name to Powderkeg Players. For the next two and half decades the playhouse saw 85 productions and became the spiritual home of amateur theatre in Melbourne’s west. The group produced up to five shows a year with each dragging in an audience of almost one thousand people a season. It was at this time that the Powderkeg Players recognised the wider western suburbs community and decided to change their name Sunshine Community Theatre (SCT).
In 1998 the Powderkeg Playhouse was condemned and demolished, sending Sunshine Community Theatre searching for a new home. By the early 2000s a new multi-purpose venue was found in the heart of North Sunshine, at Dempster Park Hall. The group shared the venue with other community groups, which now meant they had to pack away the set and stage, each night after a performance and re-set it again the following day. ‘Bumping in’ and ‘bumping out’ on a daily basis in the same venue and other challenges contributed to lesser productions for the company.
A new wave began to develop towards the end of the 2000s as a young generation of talented locals joined the company which revived the enthusiasm in long standing members. SCT started to grow again, winning the 2015 VDL Gold Award for Best Drama Production, for Ruben Guthrie, written by Brendan Cowell and directed by Racheal Holt.
Members have often reminisced about the glory days at the Powderkeg Playhouse, so in 2018 Sunshine Community Theatre decided to honour its past and change its name back to the Powderkeg Players, coming full circle. Our first production for 2018 is Agnes of God by John Pielmeier, directed by Drew Mason. Powderkeg Players first performed the show in 1982 at the playhouse and will christen the name change when the show opens in Sunshine on 4 May. We hope to see you there.