History of the Society

Way back in 1948, Bill Reeves ran an evening class which proved popular and developed into ‘Play Reading’ sessions. Bill and Gilbert Gregson, joined by others such as Bill Carter and George Young, gradually formed a Dramatic Society. Rehearsals were held in the little Meeting House opposite the Duke of Wellington, sets were built in garages and back gardens and the productions were staged in the Com Exchange. The very first play “The Ghost Train” was presented in the Corn Exchange in April 1949.

LittleTheatreIn 1952 the Society was able to rent an old Nissan hut ex-cinema on the old WW2 Royal Marines Camp in Butts Close (now Marines Drive and Town End Road) and begun its conversion into the Little Theatre. After a lot of hard work by members The Little Theatre was official opened by Lord Faringdon in December 1953 with the production of Emlyn Williams’ “The Late Christopher Bean”. During the next twenty years, the Society staged over fifty plays at the Little Theatre and this, of course, involved a considerable number of performers. Among them there appeared in 1970 and ’71, an unknown amateur actress called Pam Ayres!

In 1972 the redevelopment of the old Marines Camp into the present housing estate was begun The Little Theatre was lost, and the Society had to find alternative accommodation. There then followed a long period of virtual inactivity but during this time a few productions were staged at Buckland Village Hall.

Pump HouseIn 1978 we became corporate members of Faringdon Community Association as the “Faringdon Community Theatre” and were able to make good use of the fine new theatre and Community Centre that was the old Pump House. Our first production there in October was “Post Horn Gallop”.

We started doing pantomime in 1987 with “Sleeping Beauty” and have since produced one every year. A number of our plays and pantomimes have since received awards from the Oxfordshire Drama Network.

Following the pantomime in 1995 relations with the management of the community centre finally broke down such that we became financially independent but homeless again. For a more detailed account see some articles from the local press below. Our next production was “The Good Old Days”, which was performed in the Corn Exchange. Future productions then alternated between the Corn Exchange, the Secondary School, the Junior School, and occasionally back at the Community Theatre (which eventually shut down in 1999).

Since 2004, with the production of “Dancing at Lughnasa”, we have taken up a more permanent arrangement with Faringdon Junior School and the occasional special performances at the Sudbury House Hotel. We have also had an exchange partnership on three ocassions with the Garrison Little Theatre in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada.

Press articles concerning our break from the Faringdon Community Centre

Theatre crisis meeting (Apr 1995)

Drama group severs links with Community Centre (May 1995)

Call for goodwill in theatre row (Jun 1995)

Players hope for theatre return (Sep? 1996)

Curtain to rise once more at town’s theatre (Oct 1996)

FDS shares vision of a centre for the performing arts (Apr 1999)

Lawyers called in as lights go out for Community Centre (Apr 1999)

Crisis meetings as players fight for independent theatre (Jun 1999)