By Madeline Howell-Jones
In 1932 a small enthusiastic group [of people from the village of Welford in Northamptonshire, England] met to discuss the possibility of performing an open air pageant – “The Revels”, depicting Robin Hood and his Merry Men, to take place at the annual Hospital Fete. Such was the success of this venture, that it was decided to form a Drama society, with the idea of performing plays in aid of charities. This they did, starting with an evening of plays, songs and musical items.
An appeal for members to join the new society was printed on the back page of the programme:
“TO WELFORDIANS: OLD, YOUNG, AND BABIES-IN-ARMS,
You are all cordially invited to join the Dramatic Society. The subscription is only One Shilling a year, and you will not have to sing, dance or act, unless you want to, nor is there any guarantee that you will be allowed to do any of these things even if you want to. Still, we want you to join, and rest content that if you have any histrionic or vocal art within you, we shall drag it out, and this may be your stepping stone to fame.”
At the first WADS meeting, 10 members were present. The first production was a variety concert in February 1932. It made a profit of £12. 3s. 3d.
The Society was closed for the duration of the War in 1939. It reopened again in June 1946 with a programme of short plays.
In 1956, sadly the Society was temporarily disbanded, owing to a lack of support. Mrs Margaret Mathew called a meeting in 1969 with a view to restarting the Society. Twenty five people attended, a new committee was formed. The first play produced was Agatha Christie’s ‘The Spider’s Web’.
Since then, WADS have had an unbroken period of play production. A huge variety of shows have been produced. Always two shows a year, with the Autumn production usually being a pantomime, musical of revue of some sort, involving the younger members. The Spring productions have been comedies, farces, costume dramas and one or two serious plays.
WADS have come a long way since 1932, but without those original ten people who launched WADS we would not be the Society we are today. We still hold to the principle – “If you’ve got it in you, we shall drag it out of you!”
Today WADS is a thriving society with members of all ages. The society typically aims to put on 2 shows each year with one in the spring and one in the weeks before Christmas, with productions based in the village hall.
Why not come and come and see!