THIRTY-SIX AND STILL GOING STRONG!
by Hazel Jarrett
YES! That’s us at Sherston Drama Group!! As the longest-serving member it is my pleasure write this short history of the Group.
In about 1976 the Mothers Union in Sherston presented a short play called “Miss Pringle plays Portia”. Amongst others, Kate Crutcher, Marcia Cousens and Mary Edwards were involved.
When funds were being raised in 1977/8 for the Bells Appeal, these people (with the addition of such worthies as Edna Black and David Walsh) got together and produced “The Camel’s Back”.
This was so well received in the Village that Mary Edwards thought it was time Sherston had it own official drama group. She called a meeting in the Village Hall in July 1978, and this is when I arrived on the scene. A committee was formed with Chris Dobb as chairman, a play was chosen and a director, Frances Connell, was found. We held a coffee morning at Kate Crutcher’s to raise enough money to buy scripts.
Rehearsals commenced in the Sitting Room at the Old Vicarage, and we finally presented our first play “Fish out of Water” in Spring 1979. We repeated this play in an updated version for our 35th anniversary year –see all our productions on our past productions page.
We rehearsed in the (old) primary school for some years but its unavailability during school holidays and rocketing hire fees drove us out. We then used people’s sitting rooms, the Scout Hut, and more than one local village hall. Thanks to Alan Dickenson’s negotiating skills we then found a regular rehearsal space in the British Schoolroom, and it remains our rehearsal home, thanks to the trustees.
We have naturally had many ups and downs over the years, including power cuts and cast dropping out at the last minute, but the show has always gone on. Improvements to the Village Hall have made things easier for us, but we still have no permanent stage. Malcolm Jarrett and Arthur Gutteridge (both, sadly, no longer with us) designed and built our “new” stage in 1982. This has to be erected and demolished at every production, together with the lighting and sound equipment.
This has also improved over the years, recently with the specialist help of Gunter Coventry, Ewan Blair and Paul Ormiston. This is the place to pay tribute to the army of backstage helpers (too many to mention them all). Christine Gutteridge set us on our way with a high standard of choreography and recently Sue Lehrer and now Sarah Scherer have continued the tradition. We owe a debt of gratitude to all members, especially those who have given time to sit on committees and acted as Officers: also those sometimes under-rated people who direct productions (notably Hilary Johnson who set the high standard we still aspire to today). We have also been well-looked after by many Front of House teams, to say nothing of our truly wonderful supportive audiences!
Under the guidance of the current committee we should be good for another 36 years!!