About Us

ABOUT US

How we started…
   What we have done…
      Where we are now…

Callington Amateur Drama Society (Prim-Raf)  is a charity established to promote the advancement and improvement of education in the Performing Arts.  The group started in 1949 and we have won many awards for our productions and have given enormous enjoyment to our members and audiences.

2024 IS OUR 75TH ANNIVERSARY!

We feel very proud to own our theatre in Callington – it is not something that many small drama groups can say!  Our theatre seats 58 people and we endeavour to produce 4 productions a year; a pantomime, spring production, an autumn production and our Youth Theatre performances.  We also hire out our costumes to other groups for shows, as well as to individuals for fancy dress; please contact us for more information.

Please take a look at some of our history below.

How It All Started – 1949

At a monthly meeting of the Callington Primary School Parent Teachers Association, members considered the formation of a Drama Group.

The members were mostly ladies, with only a few gentlemen showing much interest.  The Deputy Head at the time, Mr Francis Monk, who was also a member of the Callington branch of the Royal Air Forces Association, proposed a Drama Group be formed at the next RAFA meeting that was to be held in August.  The idea was met with some enthusiasm, resulting in a joint meeting of the two organisations arranged for 12th October 1949, where a further proposal was made to combine the two groups into one drama group.

The First Performance

The school had no stage or other items required for the purpose of entertainment.  A stage, consisting of long tea tables on trestles, or laid on the top of the long desks used at the time, was erected.

Early Productions in the Town Hall

The dressing room was in the British Legion Room, now the Council Chamber.  Toilet facilities with very noisy cisterns were located off the anti-room beside the stage, and cast members dare not use them, except during an interval, for fear of spoiling the enjoyment for the audience.

The Prim-Raf Theatre

A special meeting was called on 2nd November 1964 with the knowledge that the Primary School was soon to close, due to the unsafe state of the building. Should the group acquire suitable premises of its own?

A sub-committee of the Secretary Bryon Pascoe, Treasurer Clifford Annear and John Davey were appointed to negotiate with the owner of a property, Mr Maurice Biscombe.  The premises under consideration was at the rear of Central Drapery and comprised of a large upstairs room with storage accommodation below, an adjoining block of further storage with garages underneath.

The Treasurer approached Barclays Bank who agreed to advance a loan of £1600 at the current rate of interest of 7.5%.

12 members were willing to act as Guarantors and it was agreed they should form the Management Committee.  The purchase was completed on 15th March 1965.

A fundraising committee was formed, a membership fee of one guinea was introduced and the original name of Callington Drama and Arts Society was adopted. The name changed slightly, when the organisation became a charity, to Callington Amateur Drama Society.

It was a considerable achievement for the society to purchase its own premises, but the next ten years were very hard and required a real commitment from the membership.  Not only did the loan have to be paid off, but there was a further substantial expense in trying to turn an old furniture store and plumbers workshop into a little theatre worthy of a paying audience, as well as a comfortable place to meet and rehearse the planned productions, along with preparing the scenery and properties. 

As well as major renovations, seating, heating, toilets, changing facilities, lighting and sound equipment, kitchen and crockery were all necessary items to turn the premises into a fully operational asset. The work progressed as funds were raised, and a large number of people spent a great deal of time, sweat and money into making the venture a success.

The hall was officially opened on September 25th 1965 by founder member Mr Francis Monk.  Members and patrons attended and enjoyed a meal and entertainment after the formalities.

The hall had its first booking the following week, at a hire charge of 25/- for the day. As the need to raise funds developed, a great social aspect grew and membership increased.  Not only were there play readings and rehearsals, but now there were beach parties, barbecues and drama workshops. Children of members were becoming involved, first in pantomime and then in productions of their own.  Prim-Raf was a fun place to be, for all ages. The old hardboard set was replaced in 1970 by a much lighter hessian covered frame, at the suggestion of Ambrose Winship, a member with experience of London Theatre.

Productions became more professional, and the choice of plays more ambitious.  Such classics as, ‘The Ghost Train’ by Arnold Ridley, ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan Thomas, ‘The Rivals’ by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde, and ‘Blythe Spirit’ by Noel Coward, have all been received with much appreciation.

A pleasing trend has been to produce pantomimes and plays written by our own members, developing individual talents and skills.  The ingenuity and craftsmanship of those who create sets, scenery and props has been outstanding throughout.  Such dedication and enthusiasm, as well as a love of amateur theatre, will hold the society in good stead, year on year. A tribute to members past and present.

The theatre has won many awards for its productions and gained respect and recognition from Actors such as Edward Woodward and Michele Dotrice.

Such awards include Best Directing (‘Cinderella’ 2002), Best Set (‘Cinderella’ 2002), Best Musical Production (‘Cinderella’ 2002), Best Dame (‘Sleeping Beauty’ 1999), and in 2011 for Best Director (‘Allo Allo’ and ‘Cash on Delivery’), Best Supporting Actor (‘Cash on Delivery’) and an Outstanding Achievement award from NODA for ‘Cash on Delivery’.

Our theatre in Callington seats 58 people.  The theatre has undergone a refurbishment, which has increased the quality of the theatre experience for our members and audiences.

The society also produced the World Premier of ‘Morwenna and the Legend of Kit Hill’ which attracted a lot of local media attention to the group.  Some of our members have also had experience of professional theatre.  Our members have taken part in many productions, including various Royal Shakespeare Company Productions, Cameron Mackintosh’s ‘Oliver’, and various Young Company Productions.

We endeavour to produce 4 productions a year, a pantomime, spring production, an autumn production and Youth Theatre performances; all of which take place in Prim-Raf Theatre, although some productions have been taken on tour in the past

So, Callington Amateur Drama Society has reached its 75th year and we look forward to many more ahead!