A group of actors was brought together by a local man who had come to realise that the town did not have a company that produced straight plays, as distinct from pantomime and light opera. Their first two productions were successful, and in 1940 they formed themselves into a conventional dramatic society with rules, subscriptions and a committee.
The Thespians did not stop even for the Second World War. In fact they put on up to four or five plays a year. After the war the pattern was established of presenting two major plays a year, in the spring and autumn, with an occasional summer production. Since 1957 the Thespians have also presented traditional pantomime early in the New Year. As a family entertainment this has always been a great attraction for local and more distant audiences.
Additionally, once a year, the Company put on an evening of one-act plays. The main purpose of these evenings is to enable new actors and directors to demonstrate their skills.
More recently the society has formed a youth wing called the “Next Generation”. The younger members often audition successfully for pantomimes and main productions and have staged shows in their own right. They are now established as a semi-autonomous group. This enables them to develop their theatrical skills and aspirations under adult guidance, while remaining under the aegis of the main society.
Nearly all the Thespian productions take place in the “Haslemere Hall” but over the years some have been performed al fresco. Since 1937, the Company has presented some 150 major plays, over 40 pantomimes and about 60 one-act play evenings. They have also participated in many one-act drama festivals with considerable success, winning the top prize on no less than eighteen occasions.
The Thespians take pride in the range and variety of their main productions. Works by the likes of Shakespeare, Alan Ayckbourn and Noel Coward have been frequently performed and many other dramatists from Shaw and Sheridan to Joe Orton and Dario Fo have featured over the years. In recent years we have produced plays from local writers whom we hope we have helped on their way.
With a good level of membership and new talent waiting in the wings, the Thespians look forward to continuing success in the new millennium. We are always on the lookout for new actors and backstage team members for all of the many theatrical fields of expertise. Please see our contacts page for further names and numbers for key contact people.