Over 50 Years of Drama......
We are often asked about the history of our society and in particular why we are Totley Operatic and Dramatic Society, when we don't sing! The potted history below was written by Jeff Bagnall, our former chair and set designer and builder extraordinaire:
"For many years a shield painted on our proscenium arch proclaimed that TOADS was founded in 1959. During the mid 1980s, one of members (the late Adrian Schofield) undertook some diligent research and determined that the society was at least ten years older. Moreover, its formation sprang from a public meeting as early as 1946.
In those days of austere post-war gloom, interest in 'Community Centres' as actively encouraged by the authorities. Many of the 'Centres' were sponsored by the Education Authority and the availability of Abbeydale Hall for a 'dramatic society' was the only catalyst needed by our founder, the late S Gethin Robinson.
In its early days the society made its own stage and produced many plays and sketches but soon outstripped the facilities available at Abbeydale Hall. In 1949 a public meeting saw the formation o the joint Totley Opertic and Dramatic Society - TOADS. By 1950 it was clear that the disparate interests of the two disciplines would mix as well as chalk and cheese and the inevitable split occurred. Fortunately for us, 'Geth' had the foresight to retain the TOADS title for the dramatic section although it was not until the 1960s that the split was completed when the Grand Opera Society was formed.
More recent research has now shown us that after the formation of a pure drama society (still, of course, called TOADS), the first recorded play presented was called "Young Wives' Tale" by Ronald Jeans; staged at the Union Church Hall on Totley Brook Road in June 1952. That first play was the forerunner to numerous drama productions, many staged in St Oswald's Church Hall on Bannerdale Road, the nearest suitable venue to Totley at that time.
In 1957 St John's Church built the Reverend Archer Memorial Hall on Abbeydale Road South and TOADS decided to use the new hall for their plays. The first production staged at that venue contributed its profits to the building fund.
In 1974 the need for a larger stage at St John's had been evident for some time. The members set to and built a three-foot stage extension, looking for all the world like a self assembly Bailey bridge. With certain modifications, that extension is still in use today although the main proscenium arch had to be replaced in 1986.To prove that change is a constant theme, now, in 2007, we are actively researching a complete rebuild of the stage extension to cater for the many advances in staging and lighting which have been introduced over the past few years.
From our researches into the history of TOADS it became clear that the year 2002 was the time to celebrate our Golden Anniversary. What better way to mark this milestone than to present, once again, "Young Wives' Tale". Whilst the play was considered dated in a modern context, we felt sure that our period offering was well in keeping with TOADS traditions. Moreover, the production served as a tribute to Geth and to his late wife Lil, remembered by many of our members and audience for her fine performances even when in her eighties.".
Taking over as chair from Jeff in 2006, I feel very strongly that we should remember and uphold the traditions we have built up as a society over the last half-century. We have a fantastic membership, with all ages included from 18 to 80. All of us are passionate about producing high quality performances twice a year, and very passionate about enjoying ourselves throughout the whole year, with a variety of social activities and projects to get involved in.
If you're interested in the theatre, making new friends and having a huge amount of fun, why not come and join us?
Our next play will be performed from Wednesday 24th November to Saturday 27th November 2021.
It's a fantastic thriller called 'Something to Hide' By Leslie Sands.
Chair of TOADS
If you're interested in Amateur Dramatics, why not come along and join us? We meet every Tuesday at 7.30pm in the Guild Room at the back of St John's Church Hall, Abbeydale Road South, Sheffield S17 3LE.
We're always looking for new members to act, plus to work backstage. Don't feel that you can't join us if you don't want to tread the boards, we usually need members more desperately to help with props or stage management, or even to help in the kitchen or front of house during play week!
If you want to join us and act, you need to be available every Tuesday. Those wanting to help backstage are welcome every week, but there's a bit more flexibility.
We have a £10 per year subscription fee and every week we provide free refreshments for everybody, on a rota basis.
Am Dram is an amazing way to meet people and make new friends. Come and find out for yourself soon.