History: 1 - Origins

Holsworthy Dramatic Society

In the 1920's a young Dentist called Ritblatt came to live in the town. He gathered together a group of people interested in drama to form a play-reading club. These were formal occasions in an age of elegance and romance. The ladies wore long evening gowns, the gentlemen dinner jackets. They called themselves the Holsworthy Amateur Dramatic Society. In 1926 at the Old Market Hall they presented 'The Maker of Dreams'. It was later broadcast over the radio; this was well before the days of Radio Devon. For the next 40 years they presented high quality productions (see list - items with '°' symbol).

Following Mr Ritblatt's return to London, Mrs. Fulford Oke took over and directed many shows. The Society's production of 'Shop at Sly Corner' back in 1953 was one of their finest productions ever. So it was in this rich earth that a little seed was sown.


Holsworthy Theatre Club

In 1956, when the new Guide Leader Mary Kelley -who had recently come to the town - produced the pantomime Aladdin at the Market Hall, it was well received. From that humble beginning, a group came together; they called themselves 'The Theatre Club'. Their objective was to present, for the first time in Holsworthy, a full blown musical. Rehearsals started in 1957 for 'Sunny', music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Otto Harback and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Rehearsals were held at The White Hart. The younger members were not allowed to enter the pub but were gathered up and taken through the bar to the barn at the rear. The barn floor was a little unsafe, only half the cast were allowed to dance at one time in case they all plunged to the stable below. Rehearsals hit a rocky patch, a meeting was held to discuss the forthcoming theatrical disaster and then to look at ways of paying off the inevitable debts. But in the event 'Sunny' was a great success, opening on January 8th 1958 (see list - items with '*' symbol).


What Happened Next?

These two groups would eventually merge to become Holsworthy Amateur Theatrical Society (H.A.T.S), but not yet...... Now see Early Days