WADHURST DRAMATIC CLUB
See the Noda Report On WDC’s 70th Year Celebrations (Platinum Revue) posted Dec 2016.
The Club was born in the spring of 1946, just after the Second World War, when Miss Margaret Luck, ex-RADA pupil and gold medallist, suggested the idea to Miss Freda (‘Panny’) Tyrrell in the butcher’s shop (Malpass) where they were collecting their meat rations. These ladies were both members of Tidebrook and Beech Hill Women’s Institute. ‘Peggy’ Luck, who lived at Little Park, Mayfield Lane, undertook to write to some people who they thought might be interested, and soon about twenty enthusiasts met in her house to discuss plans, travelling through thick snow. These were mostly spinsters, but also included a sprinkling of men just being demobbed. Rehearsals took place at various houses, reached by bicycle because petrol was too strictly rationed; in the cold weather the actors would try to bring a couple of logs, or lumps of coal, and possibly an old army blanket. The members had to make all their own costumes, so as not to waste their precious ‘clothing coupons’. The Club’s total assets were in the region of £20. Hiring the Commemoration Hall for a week cost £10. Peggy Luck held a coffee morning raising another £20!
The first production, directed by Peggy Luck in the autumn of 1946, was ‘Fresh Fields’ by Ivor Novello, which was declared a great success. The cast included Daisy Bain and Freda Tyrrell, who was still acting over 23 years later. From the following year until 1952 the Club put on two productions a year, some in the Primary School, and thereafter an average of three. Performances have always been in the Commemoration Hall. In the early days the audience, at any rate in the front rows, wore full evening dress (Miss Mitchell wore her tiara).
The ‘Courier’ reported in 1969 that “over the years the Club had built up a reputation for well produced and acted plays”…”Among those the Club remember with real gratitude [mainly for helping backstage] are Ted Anscombe, Stan Cosham, Charles Keast, Percy Skidmore, Don Griffin and the late Fred Still”. Among a number of memorable events which mark the Club’s history was the part played by members in the Pageant, during Charter Week in 1953, when Wadhurst celebrated the 700th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to the town by Henry III. As well as comedies and dramas presented on the stage of the Commemoration Hall, the Club has presented two plays in Wadhurst Parish Church as well as a son et lumière as part of the celebration of Wadhurst’s ‘900 Years of Christian Worship’ (October 1980).
Special mention must be made of five pantomimes specially written for Wadhurst. ‘The Babes of Cousley Wood’, ‘The Sleeping Booty’ and ‘Old Mother Weepy’ were written and produced entirely by Julian Hume, who, with his wife Ida, took a prominent part in productions for many years. The fourth pantomime (January 1968) was written by Paul Hartley and John Burton, with music by Pam Gill and produced by Hugh Orchard. A fifth pantomime ‘Dick Whittington’ was written by Jackie Manktelow, produced by Ro Mackinnon and performed in 1995. Julian Hume also wrote a revue ‘Fourpence Off’ (November 1968). In the Commemoration Hall’s Green Room is a make-up mirror presented in 1981 by Mrs Ida Hume in memory of her husband, which is still in use today.
Today the Club is well supported by the people of Wadhurst and surrounding areas and includes a junior group known as WYTkidz (Wadhurst Youth Theatre). There are no longer membership subscriptions as everyone is welcome to join our email list of supporters.
At our AGM at the beginning of October, Heather Woodward, on behalf of Wadhurst Dramatic Club, presented the Frank Creasy Award to promising WYTKid (Wadhurst Youth Theatre) Fred Lynam. She reminded us about the huge contribution and much hilarity that Frank had given to the Club and its audiences over the years.
Heather herself was last year awarded a NODA Long Service Gold Award recognising her 50 years of service to amateur dramatics.
Chairman’s Review of the Year (word .doc file)
Minutes of the AGM 2013 (word .doc file)
The committee appointed for the year is Paulette Barton, John Bush, Amanda Dann (WYT organiser), Paul Desrosiers, Jill Haskell, Kristina Mathieson (Treasurer), John Northover, Hugh Orchard (President), Dot Smytherman, Diane Wale (Minutes Secretary) & Catherine Whitehead (Chair).