Forfar Dramatic Society opens new studio

Pictured, from left, Forfar Dramatic Society vice-president Martin McKay; Dundee  poet Mark Thomson;  John Buick of Dundee Rep Ensemble and Forfar Dramatic Society President Drew Barnett.
Pictured, from left, Forfar Dramatic Society vice-president Martin McKay; Dundee poet Mark Thomson; John Buick of Dundee Rep Ensemble and Forfar Dramatic Society President Drew Barnett.

The champagne corks were popping last week when Forfar Dramatic Society officially opened its new drama studio.

Members have worked tirelessly to transform the former clubrooms at 132 East High Street - now known as Studio 132.

Invited guests were welcomed by society president Drew Barnett who highlighted the long history of the club and the years of fundraising.

Formed in 1930, the society purchased the building - a former snooker hall - in 1980 and since then the ambition has been to host performances in what became known affectionately as ‘The Clubroom’.

He said: “This has never materialised before now for a variety of reasons, from the problems of finding a suitable location for a rear fire exit and of course, finance.

“The real catalyst was the untenable situation we found ourselves in our regular performance space. The time and expense involved in using the Leisure Centre became unsustainable.

“So the real push to convert the clubroom began in earnest around six years ago when former president, Bob Kidd, managed to negotiate with a neighbour to allow us to locate a fire exit.

“Grant funding allowed us to fully insulate the building and lay the floor in this front area.

“It was at this time that our current vice-president, Martin McKay, took over the reins of property convenor.

“The society is indebted to Martin for his tireless, and often thankless, task of raising most of the finance and overseeing the project.

“Without Martin’s drive and enthusiasm, we would simply not be here tonight.”

Drew thanked local businesses for their support, those who had contributed financially, including the Forfar Common Good Fund and Forfar Rotary Club, as well as society members.

A grant was also obtained from Angus Council’s Year of Architecture Innovation and Design Fund for the mosaic at the entrance door which was commissioned from Gallus Glass in Kirriemuir.

The Box Office counter was constructed by Forfar Men’s Shed Group.

The work commenced in January this year and was completed in June. Members then spent the summer armed with paint brushes to take care of the decoration.

Drew also thanked the members for their fundraising efforts.

He continued: “All the members were challenged earlier this year to use their initiative and raise £100 each to put in the pot. Many novel ideas were conjured up, ranging from quiz nights to soup kitchens, afternoon teas and sponsored events, all of which added in excess of a thousand pounds to the pot.”

He added that fundraising continues for new seating, lighting and sound systems before the audience was treated to two hilarious renditions from Dundee poet Mark Thomson, and the official opening by John Buick of the Dundee Rep Ensemble.

Studio 132 welcomes its first audiences this week with the society’s production of Compton MacKenzie’s ‘Whisky Galore’, which runs from Thursday to Saturday.

It is set during World War II when a cargo is wrecked off a remote fictional Scottish island group — Great Todday and Little Todday — with fifty thousand cases of whisky aboard.

Paul Godfrey’s adaptation is set in a 1950’s BBC recording studio where the audience become integral to the plot as they play themselves – the live studio audience.

There is great fun in the way the actors play several parts and the poor sound effects woman has to make all the live sound by whatever means possible.

Evening performances begin at 7.30pm and the Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets for ‘Whisky Galore’ are now available online at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/forfardramatic. They can also be obtained from Toppers in East High Street.