In the 1920's the Holsworthy Amateur Dramatic Society was created, to read and perform plays. Over the next 40 years they went on to produce many high quality productions, mostly in the Market Hall.
Moving to the mid-1950s a group calling themselves 'The Theatre Club' produced a number of musicals and plays, also in the Market Hall. First, they held rehearsals in the White Hart, but in 1962 moved to permanent rented premises in Chapel Street - one room for meetings/rehearsals the other for storage. Over the next 15 years, almost 25 shows were produced - plays, musicals and a few pantomimes.
Both groups wanted more permanent premises, so when Holsworthy's old Tudor Cinema came up for sale in 1969, they agreed to buy it. Helped by loans, grants and profits from previous shows and after extensive negotiations the cinema was purchased for £1700! Of course the two groups merged and Holsworthy Amateur Theatrical Society (H.A.T.S.) was born!
For the next two years H.A.T.S. members and volunteers from the town laboured extensively to convert the derelict cinema into a theatre - a stage was designed and built, lighting and curtains fitted, orchestra pit excavated and seats installed. This 'labour of love' was completed in January 1972 when the theatre opened with a performance of Hansel & Gretel.
Over the next three decades the Theatre offered Holsworthy audiences a wide variety of musicals, plays and, of course, pantomimes, drawing of the talents of the two original groups and many newcomers. The Theatre was used both by H.A.T.S. and other organisations in the area.
Although the Theatre had been continuously improved whilst being used, by 2004 it required major renovation. A stylish new larger foyer was needed, with modern facilities for those with disabilities, a complete makeover to the seats and some re-wiring. The Theatre was closed for six months whilst a regular army of volunteers with equipment again bent willingly to the task.(see BBC Spotlight clip on HATS Renovation)
Thanks to their efforts, we now have a superb theatre with excellent facilities for audience and performance alike.
Of course, the story of a theatrical society is only partly about facilities; it is mostly about people! Over the years hundreds, if not thousands of people have made their contribution. Space prevents mentioning most names, but we must mention a few:The Crumblehulme family - James and Winifred Crumblehulme with daughter Mary (married to Val Kelley) and Bill (who married Pam Tidball). They started the Theatre Club, dreamed of creating the Theatre and, over the years, have made an enormous contribution to the success of the Society. Directors: including Mary Kelley (who directed perhaps a third of all our shows), Rob Painter, Bill Crumblehulme and Annette Dennis (who each directed a substantial number of productions) and Mary Littlechild, Ken Tyrrell and Phil Barfett (who directed on many occasions). There are many other directors who have produced one or two excellent shows. Actors: too many to mention, so perhaps we shall focus on pantomime, the mainstay of the society. Over the years many have excelled at the key rôle of pantomime dame, particularly Brian Soby, Phil Barfett and, more recently, Trevor House. Others: there are many other saints: Mike Wood and Jim Clark (who were clerk of works during the building and renovation of the Theatre), Sheila Ford, Myrtle Rooke and Bob Davies (who have provided the music for many shows), Megan White, Wendy Withall and Mary Barfett (providing thousands of costumes), Chas Painter and Tony Prouse (managing the lights) and Aubrey Woollard (taking care of the Theatre).
And what shows these people created! About 140 shows in total: about 75 plays, 40 pantos, 15 Musicals and a scattering of Variety Shows. Of these Shows, 41 were produced by the old Dramatic Society (all plays), 23 by the Theatre Club and 75 by the combined society - H.A.T.S. A majority (55%) of these Shows have been in the Theatre, and so our dream has been realised!
Why not look at further details of our history by following the links below.
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If you have anecdotes or want your contribution recognised, please contact us