Horndean Amateur Theatrical Society

Today's HATS

HATS is a friendly and informal group who are always pleased to welcome new members. We meet on most Friday evenings (except during August) at around 7.30 at Merchistoun Hall in Horndean. Please drop in and meet us if you would like to find out more about the Society.

As a community-based group, one of HATS' principal aims is to stimulate an interest in amateur dramatics and to try to provide it's members the opportunity to be involved in any aspect of amateur theatre that interests them. We stage three productions a year which hopefully provides members with the chance to take an acting role or, if they prefer, to try their hand at a number of "backstage" jobs during the year. There is always help and guidance available from the "older hands" in the group for those who may be new to Am-Dram.

There's a good deal more to producing a show than meets the eye:

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Set and Prop Building

There is a lot of work involved in building the set and in constructing stage furniture or properties and a wide range of skills are required from painting, carpentry, needlework and most importantly, making the tea!

Merchistoun Hall has a traditional Proscenium Arch stage and many of our production use a box set assembled from individual 8' x 4' stage flats. The photographs show "the team" at work in constructing such a set, probably incorporating the famous French Door flats, a stalwart of many HATS productions.

For other plays (notably the recent Aykbourn comedies) the group has used a more "open" set in which simple free-standing hinged flats are used to suggest Entrances and Exits. These sets rely more heavily on the effective use of stage lighting and in the careful selection of furniture and properties to create the right scene.

Having a more limited production budget than the average Hollywood blockbuster, HATS has to be quite imaginative in sourcing it's stage properties. Charity shops, second hand and antique dealers are often a good source of props in addition to friends and relatives of group members. On other occasions properties and furniture are constructed from scratch by members of the group. Past productions have called for a range of interesting properties including a collapsing table, exploding amplifier, double-bed and a grandfather clock. Oh yes, and the Kitchen Sink!

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During it's long history HATS have produced a number of costume dramas and other period pieces. Such plays provide an interesting challenge in obtaining costumes which are appropriate to both the period and the character. The photograph is taken from our recent production of Gaslight a psychological thriller by Raymond Hamilton set at the turn of the 20th Century.

The group is fortunate to have a number of skilled seamstresses within it's membership. Although many costumes are hired from professional Theatrical Costume suppliers, other costumes are made from new or are adapted from costumes donated to the group.

The pantomime horse was a particularly interesting project for our costume team. As you can see from large tear, it's just had it's first riding accident!

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Sound Production and Stage Lighting

Sound production and stage lighting are important aspects of all HATS productions and can be an interesting challenge, both creatively and technically.

Following the Hall re-furbishment programme of 1997, HATS is fortunate to have access to excellent stage lighting and sound facilities, which may be used to great effect to enhance mood and atmosphere in a play as well as highlighting the action on stage.

As with other production jobs, the sound and lighting person is involved in the production throughout the rehearsal schedule. The operation of the lighting desk during performances and technical rehearsal is just the final part of a larger process which starts with the creation of a lighting plot indicating all of the lighting cues in the play. Although based on the script, the lighting person must carefully observe rehearsals to adapt the lighting plot to the requirements of our staging.

Lanterns are selected and positioned above stage during the Technical set-up sessions and cues are set on the lighting desk. The Technical rehearsal serves as an opportunity to test both the lighting cues and sound effects in preparation for the final dress rehearsal.

In a similar way to lighting, the job of sound production starts with the creation of an effects plot and the recording of the effects. Currently, HATS uses mini-disc players to play effects and to carry out simple editing. The effects are usually sourced from professional C.D. libraries although in the best tradition of the "foley artist" others are recorded live during rehearsal sessions. More recently, the group has successfully experimented with the digital editing and manipulation of sound effects using P.C. based sound editing software and hardware.

For someone with an interest in the more technical aspects of Amateur Theatre, Sound Production and Stage lighting can be an interesting and rewarding job.

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Make Up

Not just for the girls!

If you would like to learn more about stage make-up, and try your hand at it, then just ask!

After more than 170 shows, we have had plenty of practice and would be happy to share our experience with you.

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And if you would like to try your hand at acting, then you would be very welcome. HATS usually stages two or three plays a year so there should be plenty of roles available. Those who are new to Am-Dram often prefer to tackle a smaller role to start with and progress to larger parts as their confidence and experience grows. HATS normally hold an audition at the start of each rehearsal session but these are usually carried out on quite informal basis.

Taking on an acting part (particularly one of the leading roles) takes time and commitment. However, it is also a great deal of fun as these pictures from on-stage, in rehearsal, and behind the scenes show.

Practising the same scene, out of costume . . .

. . . and in costume

Proof that HATS members are a friendly bunch!

Initial rehearsals begin for 'Gaslight'

The consequences of stabbing someone in the neck with a pencil suddenly dawn upon Frank!

No, it hasn't all become too much! Acting out a scene in 'I'll Get my Man'

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'Not Only But Also'

As well as all the things mentioned above, HATS members also do all their own:

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The HATS Committee

HATS elects a small committee at its Annual General Meeting from within the membership that is responsible for the overall running of the Society. This committee comprises a Chair Person, Secretary, Treasurer, Publicity Officer, Members / NODA Representative and a Social Secretary.

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Social Events

There's an old saying "All work and no play......". HATS members often meet socially, either just for a drink after a meeting, or sometimes for organised social events. See pictures and a report of a recent social event.

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How To Join or Find Out More

If you are over 16 and interested in being involved with HATS, then we would be pleased to hear from you.  See our Contact Us page for email, phone and address information.

There is absolutely no obligation to join.  Why not just come along and meet us?

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How Good Is Your Observation?

HATS is very proud to still have one of its founder members as a current member. For over fifty years, one person has remained dedicated to the group and through experience and practice she has finely honed her acting skills to turn in professional performances time after time. She appears in all three photographs below. Can you spot her?

HATS is a Section of the Horndean Community Association
Registered Charity No. 301854