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MAD: Martley Amateur Dramatics

Church outreach working in the Rural Community with Drama, Music and Dance.

In 2009, we launched Martley Amateur Dramatics as a community outreach, which has been running every year since then. The annual pantomime, held in the village hall and directed by Ruth Mace, has become a regular event which is played to packed audiences. It’s an opportunity for people of all ages to develop and express their theatrical skills, and it has been a delight to see both kids and adults develop over the years into people who can take on leading roles.

In addition to the pantomime, there is a week-long workshop for kids – called MAD Kidz – during the Easter break, run by professional theatre director Louisa Wilde. We are also currently running a weekly workshop for children between ages 10 and 18, on Saturday mornings: as well as enabling the participants to work on their skills, there are opportunities for being involved in sketches on occasions like the Cafe church in Wichenford.


The story of MAD

IN the Summer of 2009, St Peter’s Church, Martley celebrated the centenary of its re-ordering. One hundred years ago, that re-ordering was celebrated with much good community spirit: eating and drinking figured prominently but the cultural side of the village was not neglected, with a performance of “Scenes from Shakespeare’s  Twelfth Night”

Someone casually remarked “perhaps we could do this again”, and so “Martley Amateur Dramatics”, or “MAD”, was born. We discovered two people, Ruth Mace and her daughter Louisa Wilde, who not only had talent for all things dramatic and musical but also the enthusiasm to inspire others to come forward for auditions.

To ask someone to perform Shakespeare with little or no acting experience is a daunting task, but somehow a cast came together. We had farmers, builders, businessmen, academics, housewives and clerics suddenly discovering that they had a talent for bringing the Bard’s words to life.

A scene from Twelfth Night

A scene from Twelfth Night

A long summer of rehearsals, together with a lot of hard work learning lines, meant we were ready for a matinee and two evening performances.  If we had any doubts as to how it would all be received we need not have worried.  The applause at the end of each performance was enough to convince all concerned that here was something new in the community which was really worthwhile.

Since then we have produced four pantomimes, now with strong support from the children, who love getting up on the stage with fewer the inhibitions than us adults often feel!

In the summer of 2010, a production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” was another comedy drama that received wide acclaim.

And then there was the Musical:  “Esther.”

When Ruth Mace, our producer, writer and composer, first told us about the idea of producing a musical that she had written I don’t think anyone in the drama group realised quite what we were letting ourselves in for or where this would lead.

The cast from "The importance of being Earnest"

The cast from “The importance of being Earnest”

Martley Amateur Dramatics was becoming more widely known and auditioning for Esther attracted people from a wider area.

“Esther the Musical” tells the biblical story of the love and courage of an orphan who would save the lives of thousands of Jews in Persia. Its performance in Martley village hall was a huge success. Ruth’s music, with many of the songs inspired by scripture, was liked by everyone. We were invited to do a repeat performance… in Worcester Cathedral!

From the village hall to a Cathedral is a big step for a drama group that had been in existence for less than two years. Could we do it? Would we be good enough?

Taking a deep breath we decided to go ahead. Once again the enthusiasm in the local community helped us enormously. We discovered in our midst lighting and sound engineers, backstage props and scenery specialists, a graphic artist, as well as people experienced  in accountancy and advertising and many others who wanted to be involved with making this venture a success. For the cast and crew this was very scary undertaking but we need not have worried.

On the night all went well. After some nervous rehearsals everything came together and the audience were full of praise for a village drama group taking “a leap of faith” and being successful.

Since then, our yearly pantomimes provide fun and entertainment for all ages. Amongst the cast there are veterans who have been in every performance, along with many newcomers who may not have realised their own on-stage talent for acting, singing and dancing. Most of the proceeds from the performances go to local charities after we have covered our costs.

In addition to performances there is “MAD KIDZ”, a five day “Performing Arts School” for children aged  8-14 years, which operates in the Easter and Summer school holidays.  This involves acting, singing and dancing taught by drama professionals with the children putting on a performance at the end of the week.

Sometimes local communities need something to focus on to bring them together.

All of us involved with Martley Amateur Dramatics are proud that we have gone some way in achieving that.

If you want to know more about “MAD” then email:

martleydramatics@hotmail.co.uk

or use one of the contact numbers on this website.