Pictured is WADS' first ever production - Haul for the Shore

 The 1950s
WADS was born in the fifties. 

1958
WADS , which was then known as Whitchurch Amateur Dramatic Society, was founded in 1958, the same year that Pope Pius XII declared Saint Clare the patron saint of television, Bertrand Russell launched CND, Julie Andrews played Eliza Doolittle in the West End opposite Rex Harrison’s Professor Higgins, Nikita Khrushchev became Premier of the Soviet Union, Jennifer Saunders and Madonna were born, and the Preston bypass, the UK's first motorway, opened to traffic for the first time.
The Andover Advertiser of 30th May 1958 carried the following story:
ENTHUSIASTIC MEETING ABOUT AMATEUR DRAMATIC SOCIETY
"As proof of the interest on the proposed formation of a dramatic society over 40 people attended an inaugural meeting in the Church Hall. Mr. Alliston, speaking from the chair, welcomed such an enthusiastic gathering and introduced Mr. Smith and Mr. Cordery of Basingstoke Evening Institute who were very helpful in giving advice, opinions, and answering the many and varied questions. After a lengthy discussion it was resolved to form a Dramatic Society. A committee was elected with power to formulate a set of rules and to fix a subscription. The committee is: Mrs R. Payne, Miss Milne, Messrs. Booth, Bradbury, Butcher and Pascoe. The appointment of a secretary and a treasurer were not filled, But Mr. O. K. Mann and Mrs. Pascoe agrees to carry out these duties respectively for the time being. At the close of the meeting 27 application forms for membership had been completed and returned to the acting secretary."
1959
WADS , however, did not stage its first public production until the spring of 1959, when it performed Jean McConnell’s Haul for the Shore at the Parish Hall, which was to be the company’s home until the early years of this millennium.
There were two productions back in 1959, with Painted Sparrows by Guy Paxton and Edward V Hoile completing the brace in October.
Above, the local newspaper review comments on WADS' "flair for acting". Below, Gordon Kail, as Tom Lambert, demonstrates a flair for mock domestic violence

The 1960s
During the 1960s, WADS staged two productions a year right up until 1969, when it broke the mould and put on three. Towards the end of the decade, WADS introduced some other public activities, namely its first garden fete in 1967, cheese and wine evenings in 1967 and 1969 (tickets were 5/-), and a WADS night in 1969. The productions during the 1960s were:
1960
Down Came a Black Bird, by Peter Blackmore,
For Pete’s Sake, by Leslie Sands.
1961
Quiet Weekend, by Esther Cracken
Night Must Fall, by Emlyn Williams.
1962
Honey-Pot by Helen and Edward V Hoile (clearly an early favourite playwright forWADS)
Bonaventure by Charlotte Hastings.
1963
Quiet Wedding - another Esther Cracken play
The Shop at Sly Corner by Edward Percy
1964
The Reluctant Debutante by William Douglas Home
The Late Christopher Bean by Emlyn Williams - again.
1965
Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring
Home at Seven by RC Sheriff.
1966
The Chiltern Hundreds - another William Douglas Home -
Miranda by Will Gordon.
1967
Sailor Beware by Philip King and Falkland Cary
The Farmer’s Wife by Eden Phillpotts.
Bob Broad, who played the leading role, was descibed by the local press as "perfect". He was joined by Fred Watterson in his WADS debut and Mabel Gordon, whose part was described as "well played". The paper went on to report that this was "the largest cast ever to appear in a WADS production".
1968
The Hollow by Agatha Christie
Pink String and Sealing Wax by Roland Pertwee.
1969
The Chester Cycle of Miracle Plays
Waters of the Moon by NC Hunter
A triple-bill of the Monkey’s Paw by WW Jacobs, Family Groupe by Mabel Contstanturos and Guilty Generation by Margaret Wood.

The 1970s
The extra curricular activities such as fetes and cheese and wine evenings pretty much ceased during the 1970s, when WADS went back to two productions a year and nothing else, except for in 1975, when junior WADS also staged a play - Johnny Salter by Aidan Chambers, and the following year, when there was only one production. The seventies saw a number of playwrights whose plays had been performed in the previous decade revisited by WADS for different works - Eden Phillpotts, Peter Blackmore and Michael Pertwee. Also, in 1979, WADS performed Charlotte Hastings’ Bonaventure for the second time (the first being in 1962). And in 1975 and 1978 the company put on two different Noel Coward plays. The full list of 1970s productions by WADS is:
1970
Yellow Sands by Eden Phillpots
A Letter from the General by Maurice McLaughlin.
1971
Ghost Train by Arnold Ridley
A double bill of The Bridge by Joe Corrie and An Immortelle by Phillip Johnson.
1972
The White Sheep of the Family by L du Garde Peach and Ian Hay
The Heiress by Ruth and Augustus Goetz.
1973
Mad about Men by Peter Blackmore
Dear Octopus by Dodie Smith.
1974 
The Secret Tent by Elizabeth Addyman
Goodnight Mr Puffin by Arthur Lovegrove.
1975 
The House by the Lake by Hugh Mills
Relative Values by Noel Coward
Johnny Salter by Aidan Chambers - this last one staged by junior WADS.
1976
Hobson’s Choice by Harold Brighouse was the only production (naturally?) in 1976.
1977
When we are Married by JB Priestley
The Paragon by Roland and Michael Pertwee - WADS’ second visit to Michael Pertwee.
1978 
It’s Never too Late by Felicity Douglas
Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward.
1979
Bonaventure by Charlotte Hastings
Lloyd George Knew my Father by William Douglas Hume.

The 1980s
There was only one production in 1980 - George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, celebrating the 21st anniversary of WADS’ first public performance. After this quiet start to the decade, however, there was an explosion in WADS activity, with the company staging pantomimes and other productions aimed at children, in addition to its regular shows for adults, as well as the first poetry and prose evening. The 1980s also witnessed the rise and fall of the olde tyme music hall - the seven shows staged during these years were the first and last music halls that WADS performed. The full schedule for the 1980s reads as follows:
1980
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.
1981
Wanted One Body by Raymond Dyer
The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan.
1982 
Move Over Mrs Markham by Ray Clooney and John Chapman
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde,
as well as the first olde tyme music hall to be staged.
1983
Suspect by Edward Percy,
The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard
Ring Around the Moon by Christopher Fry,
plus the second olde tyme music hall.
1984
Fools Rush In by Kenneth Horne,
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, adapted from Lewis Carroll’s book,
Spring and Port Wine by Bill Naughton,
as well as another olde tyme music hall.
1985
The Sound of Murder by William Fairchild
Say Who You Are by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall,
plus the now statutory olde tyme music hall.
1986
Outside Edge by Richard Harris
and Alice Through the Looking Glass, again adapted from Lewis Carroll’s original
- and an olde tyme music hall.
1987
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier,
The Madam by Gwen Cherrell
See How They Run by Philip King,
plus another music hall.
1988
Dick Whittington - WADS’ first panto (oh yes it was)
Dracula (adapted from Bram Stoker's novel by Stephen Hotchner),
as well as another music hall and the first ever poetry and prose evening.
1989
Separate Tables by Terrence Rattigan (and the second time the playwright had been covered by WADS in the 80s)
A triple-bill of Saint Michael Comes to Shepherd's Bush by James Parish, Rattling the Railings by Peter Terson and Death, by WADS’ own Paul Nethercott - the first time the group had performed anything written by one of its own members
Plus an adaptation of Cinderella.

The 1990s
As the millennium drew to a close, WADS staged a heady mix of classics, children’s stories, school stories for adults, plays about spies, about murder; tragedies and comedies. The decade pretty much started and ended with Noel Coward’s Blythe Spirit, and some other old favourites were revisited as well - Terrence Rattigan, Peter Terson, Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall in their own right; Emlyn Williams with his adaptation of Turgenev’s A Month in the Country. Mostly, there were two plays a year, except for 1992 and 1995, when there were three, and 1996, with just one.
1990 
The nineties opened with All Things Bright and Beautiful by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, followed by a double bill of act three of Noel Coward’s Blythe Spirit and Alan Ayckbourne’s Gosforth’s Fete.
1991
The Tulip Tree by NC Hunter, What Shall We Tell Caroline? by John Mortimer and - for the second year running - Gosforth’s Fete by Alan Ayckbourne.
1992 
Two productions aimed predominantly at children - adaptations of Aladdin and The Wind in the Willows, an outdoor summer production at The Lawns, as well as a poetry and prose evening.
1993
Daisy Pulls it Off by Denise Degan and a comedy double bill of Harlequinade by Terrence Rattigan and Rattling the Railings by Peter Terson (first performed byWADS in 1989).
1994 
An adaptation of Sleeping Beauty by Katie Kingshill and Ivan Turgenev’s A Month in the Country adapted by Emlyn Williams.
1995 
The second Alan Ayckbourne in five years - Absent Friends - and the second outdoor production of the nineties - The Wizard of Oz by Alfred Bradley, as well as Frank Marcus’s The Killing of Sister George.
1996
A Tomb With a View by Norman Robbins - the only production of 1996.
1997
The Old Country by Alan Bennett and Blythe Spirit by Noel Coward - this time the complete play, and the third time in all that WADS took it on.
1998
Tom Jones, adapted from Henry Fielding’s novel by Joan MacAlpine, and Frank Vickery’s Family Planning.
1999
Seeds of Doubt, by Peter Gordon, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - another novel adaptation, this time by Jay Presson Allen from Muriel Spark’s original.

The 2000s 
The new millennium has seen some new departures for WADS, including its first ever Shakespeare and an outdoor adaptation of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, as well as a return to some old favourites, such as Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward. And although WADS performed Aladdin for the second time in its history, this time it was a version specially written for WaterAid - Aladdin and the Magic Bucket. The naughties also saw WADS move to its new performance venue, at Testbourne Theatre, as well as the company perform its 100th play, Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s farce Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay.
2000
performed a selection of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the grounds of Whitchurch Primary School. Taking the form of an audience promenade, Canterbury Tales was adapted by WADS’ own Claire Isbester.
The other performance that year was Sophie Tucker’s One Night Stand.
2001
Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling and Jack and the Beanstalk by PH Adams and C Carter.
2002
Noel Coward again - this time, Private Lives - and an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, plus the first WADS garden party, at 27 London Street.
2003
Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh and Aladdin and the Magic Bucket by Paul Aust and WaterAid.
2004 
Just one play this year - Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance - plus the second garden party.
2005
Noises Off by Michael Frayn and Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay by Dario Fo and Franca Rame - the 100th play to be staged by WADS.
2006
Dark of the Moon by Howard Richardson and William Berney and an all-female adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
There was also a poetry and prose evening, on the theme of Magic, Mystery and Mischief.
2007
Philip Goulding’s The Titfield Thunderbolt and Wyrd Sisters, adapted from Terry Pratchett’s book by Stephen Briggs.
2008 
Fifty years since WADS was established. The company staged its first interactive murder mystery, Theatre of Horror.
In December, WADS put on a Christmas pantomime - Snow White and the Ice Queen by Peter Nutall.
2009 
The 50th anniversary of WADS’ first public performance - Haul for the Shore. To celebrate, the company staged a dramatic read-through, in full costume, of one its previous hits, Daisy Pulls it Off by Denise Degan, which WADS first performed in 1993. Several members from the original production, including Chrissie Ferngrove, Bridget Culley and Claire Isbester, were again among the cast.
“Henry wants a wife, and to catch one he advertises in the local paper. He gets rather more than he bargained for! An hilarious farce in one act, guaranteed giggles all around!”
So said the blurb for one of the three one-act plays that WADS performed in July to showcase the work of three new directors.
Called Another One Night Stand, the show featured Tennessee Williams’ This Property is Condemned for two actors, directed by Esther Privett and Alex Donovan, Waiting for the Telegram, an Alan Bennett monologue, and Wife Required, a farce by Falkland L Cary and Philip King, directed by WADS newcomer Sophie Robinson.
In the same month, WADS also performed Chanticleer, from The Nun’s Priest’s Tale -one of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales - at the Church Fete. This was part of the adaptation by Claire Isbester that WADS performed in 2000. The cast consisted of a fox, a cockerel, the narrator, the old widow and several chickens - some of whom were fete-goers press-ganged into performing.
In November 2009, WADS staged The Passing Out Parade by Anne Valery, where we met seven raw girls who had just signed up and followed their trials and tribulations at the hands of Joyce “blood-and-guts” Pickering. The play featured an all-female cast, including four actresses new to WADS. With a barrack room setting, a soundtrack of music and songs from the period, authentic1940s accessories, uniforms and even wartime undergarments, the show re-created the dark days of 1944 with comedy, drama and even tragedy, as the girls of B Company ATS came to grips with the Great British military machine.

The 2010s
2010
WADS' second interactive murder mystery, this time in a joint venture with the Gill Nethercott Centre. Called M'Nango Valley, the setting was a dinner to launch plans to build a controversial theme park celebrating African culture and history in the grounds of Laverchurch Park country estate.
also put on another of its Poetry & Prose evenings on in March in the Gill Nethercott Centre. The theme was Keen on Green, and readings and music covered a whole host of topics loosely related to the colour, from the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River to the environment.
staged an open-air production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream on 22, 23 and 24 July. Set in the beautiful grounds of The Lawn, by kind permission of Professor Denning, the production featured some music composed for the occasion by Vincent Lindsey-Clark.
In August, WADS enjoyed a fully interactive workshop on the ancient art of storytelling facilitated by Chris and Sara from Orange Apples.
In December WADS staged another of its poetry and prose evenings, this time with the theme of winter, called Wadsing in a Winter Wonderland.
2011
WADS put on an afternoon of Magical Stories and family fun at the Gill Nethercott Centre in January. The two stories were The Goblin and the Grocer and Lydia and the Magic Handkerchief and there were craft activities for everyone during the interval.
also put on a radio play of Cold Comfort Farm, a play by Paul Doust, adapted from the novel by Stella Gibbons, at the Gill Nethercott Centre the same weekend. This was inspired by the success of the WADS 50th Anniversary radio play version of Haul for the Shore. As the Cold Comfort Farm blurb said, "It’ll be like watching a radio recording – with you as the studio audience, with the added bonus of a bar and a delicious supper provided by H's Coffee Shop."
In June, WADS collaborated with The White Hart to put on another murder mystery. A Recipe for Murder was an interactive story about a hotel refurbishment that goes wrong, and was performed either side of a three course dinner at the White Hart.
In July, WADS put on its second consecutive open air Shakespeare. This time, the play was Twelfth Night, which played to packed audiences at The Lawn (by kind permission of Professor and Mrs Denning).
2012
WADS moved its permanent home back to the Parish Hall. In January, there were three performances for the price of one: Bazaar and Rummage by Sue Townsend (of Adrian Mole fame) sandwiched between two short farces by Michael Frayn, Look Away Now and Toasters.
In May, professional actor, ex-Testbourne student and WADS alumnus Ben Riddle held a short series of acting master class workshops in Whitchurch. Ben – a graduate of Guildford School of Acting and who had just finished a tour of Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills – worked with participants to look at different ways of interpreting the text of Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum, the play WADS chose as its next production in November.
Carpe Jugulum is one of the Discworld series and features a number of the characters from Wyrd Sisters, which WADS performed back in 2007. It is a pastiche on the traditions of vampire literature, where vampires were bright clothes, drink wine and stay up until noon. The show ran for three nights in November, with the Friday and Saturday performances selling out.
2013
In May, WADS  put on a quartet of pocket-sized comedies in a show called Four Shortened. The plays were directed by three WADS members new to directing - Michael Dorey, Gareth Lewis and Annaleis Chandler.
· In A Case of Belonging by Jan Allred, two figures argue over ownership of the soul of a dead body
· In Fatal Loins by Perry Pontac, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is reconsidered, answering the question directly posed in the prologue: "If Juliet and Romeo survive/Will their eternal passion stay alive?"
· In both Alarms and Leavings, Michael Frayn examines the difficulties modern technology has added to life. Two couples embark on a dinner party which is doomed to failure as labour-saving devices and furniture become hostile.
In July, WADS staged a murder mystery at Whitchurch Silk Mill. A joint venture with the Mill,
Careless Talk Costs Lives, written and directed by WADS' own Sue Washington, was a sell-out.
2014
WADS began and ended the year with Stuart Paterson plays, with a murder mystery in between. The first, Paterson play, which took place in the Parish Hall in January, was a rather different take on Cinderella. It certainly wasn't a pantomime – it was more of a comedy play for all the family. it had three balls, no pumpkin, and Cinders weighing up the options of who’s the better catch, the Prince or the kitchen boy. She chose the kitchen boy.
In March, WADS staged a murder mystery called Death at the Tenth at Test Valley Golf Club as well as another of its Poetry and Prose evenings. This one was called The Swish of The Curtain, and as well as the spoken word included guitar music from Vincent Lindsey-Clark.
' pre-Christmas production was Hansel and Gretel, again by Stuart Paterson, based on the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale. In this version, our two heroes stumble upon a colourful circus family but are tricked into following their new friends to the wicked witch's sweet-covered caravan. Hansel is given over to the witch in return for the imprisoned father of the circus family. But Gretel won't give in and tries to free her brother. Helped by Orin the Faerie King and the mysterious Monkey Boy, can the children defeat the witch?
The Guardian said, “In the fullness of time, I think Stuart Paterson's modern pantomimes may come to be seen as one of the outstanding legacies of Scottish Theatre."
2015
WADS put on supper and an evening of short plays and sketches in March called Beyond the Fridge – the WADS revue, the company's big fundraising event of the year.
As the blurb said, "We are not fundraising to buy a new refrigerator for WADS – we are looking beyond the fridge, to raising money to cover our rent for the Parish Hall. We aren’t looking to raise Smegabucks; this isn’t going to be a Miele ticket; we don’t want to be richer than the AGA khan; we aren’t aiming to be Frigidaires; we’re not aspiring to a life of Electroluxury. Nor are we making an Indesit proposal; we don’t want Candy and we don’t want our feet to leave the Grundig. There’d be no Logik in that. No, let’s not beat about the Bush. We just want to make sure we can continue to rehearse and perform under the lights at the Parish Hall. Bish, bash, Bosch. Neff said. Otherwise we might have to do it by the light of our old refrigerator instead. In which case, we’ll be changing our name to the Whitchurch Fridge Lights. Beyond the Fridge will be cool. But not that cool. (Not even Kitchen Aid, let alone Live Aid.)"
In November, the company staged Molière’s The Hypochondriack, a very funny play despite it being 350 years old, which WADS augmented with some interludes of its own. The Parish Hall was packed for all three performances, which were all very well received indeed.
Here's a not very independent review:
"When you go to see 350 year-old comedy, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the jokes might have dated. Well, that’s simply not the case with Molière’s The Hypochondriack, which remains hilarious, especially when it’s given the treatment WADS gave it last night. I think it was the best first night of a WADS production that I’ve seen, partly due to the quality of the writing, partly to the quality of the interpretation and partly to the quality of the acting, but also in no small part to a very responsive and quite large audience, who clearly thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
"It’s a very funny script in its own right and WADS have added some great touches of their own, from Elliot Burns’ Tim-not-so-nice-but-even-dimmer character and some banter with the audience, to Paul Nethercott’s crazy steampunk medical equipment and some entertaining singing, masterminded by the show’s musical director, Peter Niblett. The costumes are great, too.
"But what really impressed me was the quality of the acting right across the, er, boards. There isn’t one standout performance simply because they are all excellent, and not just when they are speaking but also when they’re listening. There’s a lot going on that’s unspoken – movements, facial expressions, and so on – which all adds to the drama. There’s very little scenery and it doesn’t change, but there’s so much going on and so much to look at you wouldn’t notice. I know I'm not an entirely unbiased and independent critic, but it was rather good."
2016
The first event of the year was a poetry and prose evening, with contributions loosely following a theme of Yellow. Nina Smith also played the guitar and sang Coldplay's Yellow, Nina being one of the WADS members who did keep to the theme.
This was followed in May by three perfpormances of Pack of Lies , a 1983 play by English writer Hugh Whitemore based on the story of a couple and their teenage daughter whose neighbours are arrested for spying. The original West End production of Pack of Lies starred Judi Dench and her husband, Michael Williams. Dench won the Laurence Olivier Award as Best Actress for her performance. The real-life teenage daughter on whom the play character was modelled was none other than Gay Search, the television presenter best known for her work on the BBC television series Gardeners' World.
In July, WADS staged Jane Austen and the Vampyre Earl, a murder mystery written by WADS member Sue Washington in aid of the Whitchurch Silk Mill, bringing together Jane and the Third Earl of Portsmouth, who lived in Hurstbourne Park on the edge of Whitchurch in Hampshire, and who was known locally as the Vampyre Earl. He was not only acquainted with Jane but he was taught by her father, The Reverend George Austen, vicar of nearby Steventon.
  


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