GADS -drama at the heart of the village

Sixty one years ago Skeffington Close was a relatively new part of the growing community of Geddington but several of the families who had come to live in the new homes with their young families shared an interest…amateur dramatics.

It was this week in 1956 that a small group of enthusiasts gathered together at 20 Skeffington Close to discuss the revival of a dramatic society for the village.

Mr & Mrs R Cook, Mr & Mrs W Bailey , Mr & Mrs G Burditt, Mrs Hay, Mrs Colvin and Mrs Margaret Stafford made up the group. They were optimistic, determined and talented and their vision and enthusiasm re-started a tradition of drama, music and performance which had been lost in the war years and the austerity years that followed.

The whole focus was on involving all areas of the village, with as wide a membership as possible. The name of the organisation would be decided later when a larger group had been established but there would be a subscription of 5s (five shillings = 25p) per member to establish a working fund for costs of production.

The very first production was to be ‘A Quiet Weekend’ and rehersals, it was decided, would start straight after Christmas ready for public performance by Easter.

The cast of A Quiet Weekend 1957

By March 1957 the group was up and running, called Geddington Dramatic Society, with over 20 members and ready to put on its first production. Hidden, and not so hidden, talents emerged…Mrs Curtis was the property mistress, Mr M Rowles was the electrician, ably assisted by Mr A Stafford. Mrs Rowles was the make up artist and Mrs Hutchings was called upon to provide the organisation of the refreshments while Mr Raby had the all important job of building the stage set.

All good team work!  ‘A Quiet Weekend’ proved a creditable success with good audience numbers paying 3s 6d for reserved seats and a mere 1s 6d for unreserved seats. Not surprisingly the committee reported a profit in takings at the end of the run.  It wasn’t long before the ‘selection committee’ were back together again choosing and planning the November production… and thus was established a tradition of Spring and Autumn productions every year since, involving young and old(er) performers and backstage teams and building a reputation that draws in full audiences on the 3- night runs twice a year.

Well done those Skeffington trailblazers – Geddington’s talent might have remained undiscovered but for you!

‘Now, where are we going to get some cushions from to stop the audience getting restless….?’

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Apologies for the formality of the names in the listings. This is how they appear in the records and in sharing this history it seems important to respect this original format.

The cast members in the photograph are: Betty Cook, Margaret Stafford, Ray Cook, Arthur Neale, Geoffrey Burditt, Rita Cuthell, Mary Burditt, Margaret Bailey, Dorothy Fromm, Jock Cuthell, Ray Cook, Sheila Colvin, David Hill and Ann Pinfold.

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