Prior to the 1939-45 War Herne Bay had a successful theatrical group, known as The Mask Players, presenting plays and pantomimes. Their operations were suspended during the war and although an effort to re-start the group after 1945 it did not come to anything.
Theatrical amateurs being what they are it was not long before this vacuum was filled. One of the groups that emerged was known as The William Askew Players and it was this group who at a meeting on the 27th May 1948 was reformed as Theatrecraft.
Under the Chairmanship of Mr. R.A. Addyes-Scott and the patronage of the company’s first president, Miss Frances Green, this small group of players launched themselves on an unsuspecting public with a presentation of, The Barretts of Wimpole Street later in 1948.
In the beginning it was the practice of the society to borrow £30.00 from one of the members in order to finance a production, reimbursement being made from the takings. George Barelli who was treasurer in 1953 for the production, The Happiest Days of Your Life, inherited a bank balance of £4.17.6. For this show no money was borrowed, the royalties being paid as soon as enough money had been taken at the box office. Sufficient money was made on this show so that there was no need to ever borrow again.
Originally the intention was to present only plays but as Theatrecraft developed it took on the task of reviving the town’s annual Christmas pantomime at the request of Herne Bay Urban District Council in 1957.This led to a pattern of two plays and a pantomime every year; the latter providing the finance to support the plays.
A further widening of Theatrecraft’s scope of activity occurred in 1964 when modern musicals were included in their repertoire. A regular pattern of two plays, a musical and a pantomime each year evolved making Theatrecraft the most prolific of the town’s amateur theatre organizations.
In recent years this has been reduced to one play, a musical and a pantomime each year as the demands on members’ time had made it increasingly difficult to cast two plays a year.