On March 31st, 1975, ECHO Players opened its doors for the first time in the Village Theatre, Qualicum Beach, hosting one of the most extensive North Island Zone Festivals ever held. This inaugural festival saw a whopping nineteen plays presented in just eight nights.
ECHO Players takes its name from a theatre company that opened in the oceanside area in 1934. The acronym “ECHO” stood for Errington, Coombs, Hilliers and Others, reflecting the fact that the company represented members from many neighbouring districts of the mid-Island area. With the advent of WWII, however, the members of ECHO Players dispersed.
Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, some of the original players from ECHO joined other local theatre groups, and together they founded the Mid-Island Drama Festival, which lasted from 1947 to 1958. Then, in 1974, ECHO Players was reformed, and with big projects in mind.
The same year that the current ECHO Players was established, the company bought the Village Theatre, where they currently perform. Constructed in 1949 as a movie theatre, the building needed many reservations in order to serve its purpose as a theatre for live performances. First, they would need a stage. The actors needed dressing rooms. Seating needed to be replaced. The washrooms also needed to be updated.
In order to buy the theatre in the first place it had cost the newly-formed ECHO Players $37,000––what at the time was an enormous sum of money. Renovations would require even more expenditure. To cut costs, the company managed to find second-hand seating to replace the old seats. The renovations were then completed all on the part of hard-working community volunteers.
More ambitious still, the company proposed to have the theatre ready for business in the first half of the next year, on March 31st, 1975, when they would wow the community and its visitors with an impressive series of single-act plays.
Over forty years later, ECHO Players continues to be a non-profit society run by local community members, and they continue to delight their audiences with dazzling performances by local talent.