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. Started in 1949, our group has been going strong for 70 years, winning many awards for it's productions and giving much enjoyment to our members and audiences.
We feel very proud to own our theatre in Callington, it's not something that many small drama groups can say! Our theatre seats around 80 people and we produce four productions a year; a pantomime, spring production, Youth Theatre Production and an Autumn production.
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 on this and to enquire about costs.
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, offered to mention the proposed Drama Group 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 being 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 production 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 off the anti-room beside the stage, and cast members dare not use them except during an interval, for fear of spoiling the enjoyment of the audience.
The Prim-Raf Theatre
A special meeting was called for 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 was 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 fund raising committee was formed, a membership fee of one guinea was introduced and the name of CALLINGTON DRAMA AND ARTS SOCIETY was adopted.
It was a considerable achievement for Prim-Raf 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, and to prepare 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, now of Madron. Members and patrons attended and enjoyed a meal and entertainment after the formalities.
The hall had its first booking the following week, hire charge being 25/- for the day.
Through the need to raise funds developed a great social aspect 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 the London Theatre.
Productions became more professional, and the choice of play more ambitious. Such classics as The Ghost Train, Under Milk Wood, The Rivals, The Importance of Being Earnest, Blythe Spirit, 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 over the 50 years of PRIM-RAF. Such dedication and enthusiasm as well as a love of amateur theatre will hold the society in good stead until its Diamond Anniversary. A tribute to members past and present.
Started in 1949, CADS has been going strong for 70 years, winning many awards for it's productions and gaining respect and recognition from Actors such as Edward Woodwood and Michelle Dotrice.
Such awards include best directing (Cinderella 2002), Best Set (Cinderella 2002), Best Musical Production (Cinderella 2002), Best Dame (Sleeping Beauty 1999), and more recently in 2011 for Best Director (Allo Allo and Cash on Delivery), Best supporting actor (Cash on Delivery) and a outstanding achievement award from NODA for Cash on Delivery.
We have our own theatre in Callington that seats around 60 people, the theatre has undergone a refurbishment that has increased the quality of the theatre experience for our members and audiences.
Prim-Raf has also produced the World Premier of 'Morwenna and the Legend of Kit Hill' which brought a lot of local media attention to the group. Some of our members have also had experience of professional theatre mainly at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth. Productions our members have taken part in include, various Royal Shakespeare Company Productions, Cameron Mackintosh's Oliver, and various Young Company Productions.
We produce four productions a year, a pantomime, spring production, a Youth Theatre production and an autumn production all of which take place in the Prim-Raf Theatre, although some productions do take themselves on tour.
Prim-Raf has had a very successful 69 years existence with 2019 seeing us into our 70th year. We look forward now to many more fun packed years.