GADS- Drama at the heart of the village – 1980s

The ten years of this decade saw huge shifts in global power, dramatic strides towards peace and reconciliation in eastern Europe and bitter renewals of old tensions in the Middle and Far East.

In 1981 the first Space Shuttle Columbia successfully completed its mission and with it consolidated the notion of mankind living in, working in and developing areas of space previously unknown.

Changes in leadership in Russia brought a new generation to power and, as bridges were built with the US administration under Ronald Reagan, words like ‘Glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’ became commonplace here too. Power in Europe shifted as countries took the opportunity to break away from the USSR and become independent. In Germany the culmination of this process was the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, setting the scene for the reunification of Germany after many years of division.

In Britain the nation responded publicly to the Ethiopian Famine by supporting Live Aid, a startlingly ambitious transatlantic event which those who were there, or those who watched it on TV will never forget.

New ‘flats’, new curtains, new lighting, bigger stage…

Less ambitious, but drawing on similar talents, GADS continued its successful development as a society. There were new stage ‘flats’ to consider and new curtains to cost; the previous productions had left the society with a healthy bank balance of £600 and enthusiasm within the group was at an all time high. Car rallies, BBQs , after play parties and visits to other theatrical venues like Tolethorpe Hall were enjoyed by the members outside rehearsal periods and there was a very strong sense of camaraderie.

The support in the village and the locality was now so strong that a ‘Patrons’ membership had been introduced which brought in funds and gave those sponsoring GADS priority booking rights. Mr & Mrs Knight of Church Farm were among those ‘Patrons’.

David Holmes, Nigel Ball, Janice A’Ness, Claire Stone, Joanne James and Allison Crouch in ‘ I Remember Mama’

Early 80s productions included ‘Off the Hook’, a comedy ;     ‘I remember Mama’, a period drama and ‘Oh Clarence’, a Blandings Castle farce with reporting from the Evening Telegraph and Weekend Television. Receipts were good and membership increased. Two new aspects to GADS activities were in development at this stage. A Young GADS group had been considered for some time and finally in 1982 Young GADS was formed. It had 21 members and its first production was The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party  in the grounds of the Priory as part of that year’s Medieval Fayre. With the help of Keith Sexton, Paul Richardson, Ian Spencer and Sylvia Cook these youngsters would also take part in the Drama Festival later in the year.

At the same time the idea of a ‘Concert Party’ to give recitals, perform short sketches and revisit popular songs from musicals came to fruition and the members of the Society had another outlet for their talents!

‘Oh Clarence’ A Blandings Castle Comedy

In 1982 the GADS committee took another step; they introduced Honorary Life Membership in recognition of those who had served the society well for many years, giving freely of their time and talents. Those who were invited to take up membership initially were Bill Swan, Maurice Holmes and Mrs E. M. Moore. For each of them there would be two complimentary tickets for each future performance and an open invitation to attend all the society’s social events.

Quite a treat!

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the Space Shuttle programme, ‘Ring around the Moon ‘ by Frenchman Jean Anouilh was the choice for the November production in 1982. Boughton House agreed to allow photographs to be taken with the house as a backdrop, representing the French chateau in which the action takes place; action that focuses on satirising aristocratic life in the early 1900s. A trio of musicians were at the centre of the set ‘extrovertly’ led by Stuart Bowyer and the atmosphere was described by one reporter as ‘vivacious, ritzy and melodramatic’ . Alan Couch, Joanna James and Kay Marlow were highly commended but the best compliment was reserved for Sylvia Cook (Capulat) and Marion Sexton (Isabelle’s mother) as ‘a wonderful pair of old hens’

The impressive and well lit set gives an immediate tone of elegance and sophistication to Evan Roberts’ perceptive production which brings a new dimension to GADS repertoire so far’

All that hard work to improve the stage and the facilities had been worth it!

*****************************************************************************************************************                 If the photographs bring back memories of those taking part or you were in the audience, please share your stories with us. Leave a comment or send us a photo.

Were you a Young GAD? Does anyone have photographs of The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party?

More stories from GADS in May.