History

Society History

The Society was founded in the late 1940s as the Astwood Bank Baptist Operatic and Dramatic Society, as a natural extension of the church’s social calendar. Although its founders were church members it quickly became a village enterprise and soon was the yearly high-spot for the village.

The first performance became a trial in how to convert a Baptist church hall into a 200 seat theatre: the stage was big enough to hold 3 Sunday school teachers, and the stage lighting comprised of a single 200w lamp of which you could hardly tell the difference between on and off.

So a new stage was built. With the permission of the church elders, the local confectionery shops were pillaged of their biscuit tins to make the stage lighting. Cocoa and Ovaltine tins were used to make lights for the orchestra and a legend was born.

So, for one week a year Astwood Bank had its own theatre, and every night was a sell out.

Everything had to be hand made, from scenery to costumes, so everybody had to help – which give a wonderful feeling of community spirit which has stayed with the Society to the present day.

Its humble beginnings gave the Society its tenacity to still be going strong today, although we think its founders would have liked to have had the Palace Theatre, with its stage and professional lighting, available in their day.

So there’s a brief history on how we got started, and below are the performances we’ve achieved over the years. Thank you for taking the time to learn about us!

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We are an Amateur Operatic Society, specialising in Gilbert and Sullivan and Victorian/Edwardian Light Opera/Operetta, as well as making an occasional foray into Musical Comedy.