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Get to Know Us

Astwood Bank Operatic 2023

What We’re All About

Astwood Bank Operatic Society was founded in the late 1940s as ‘Astwood Bank Baptist Operatic and Dramatic Society’. Originally a natural extension of the local church’s social calendar, the society quickly grew to involve the whole village and its shows became an annual highlight for everyone.

The society’s first show introduced an interesting challenge: how to convert a Baptist church hall into a 200-seat theatre. While there was a stage in the hall, it was only big enough to hold three Sunday school teachers and the stage lighting consisted of a single 200w lamp.

So, a new stage was built. With permission from the church elders, the local confectionary shops gave their empty biscuit tins to make stage lighting, while cocoa and Ovaltine tins were used to create lights for the orchestra. Everything for the show had to be handmade, from the scenery to the costumes, and everyone pitched in to help. A legend was born and for one week a year, Astwood Bank had its own sell-out theatre.

Over 80 years later and Astwood Bank Operatic Society has come a long way since those humble beginnings. But while the venue for our shows may have changed, with the Palace Theatre offering the kind of professional setup our founders would have loved, the wonderful sense of community spirit and tenacity that have always been at the heart of the society remain. And long may this continue!

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