Hockwold Amateur Theatrical Society "HATS"
Brief History of HATS (Hockwold Amateur Theatrical Society)
HATS was formed in 2003, from a nucleus of people who had earlier appeared in two Pantomimes written by Graham Whitaker - Jack and the Beanstalk (2001) and Aladdin (2002). These were staged by Hockwold Entertainments to raise funds for the Village Hall, so HATS as a new society had no money of its own. The first Chair of HATS was Sue Perry, Secretary was Janice Whitaker and Treasurer was Sue Annear. HATS put on a Variety show to raise some money and explore local talent. HATS next ventures were a sketch show called Carry on HATS and then Cinderella written by Janice Whitaker. A turning point in the society's life was the decision in 2004 to stage Lionel Bart's Oliver! This was our first professionally written show and our first brush with West End Theatrical firms. It was scary, particularly as our finances could only just cover the royalties. We did go on to make a profit and have gone on using professionally written material ever since with musicals such as The King and I in 2005, My Fair Lady in 2007, Annie Get your Gun in 2009, and Hello Dolly in 2014. In 2018 we visited Oliver again but this time the child actors played adult parts. Time flies fast in show business.
In 2010 we presented Noel Coward's classic comedy Blithe Spirit, for which we won a NODA award and was something of a change for us as this was the first full length play we had performed, although earlier in 2006 we staged a double bill of one act plays, "You Me and Mrs Jones" and "Day of Reckoning". We have also presented two murder mystery evenings in 2007 and 2008. In 2012 we presented "The Railway Children" and in 2013 we presented "Hello is anybody there" which were all well supported.
In between all of these shows we had great fun presenting professional and home grown Pantomimes such as Snow White in 2005, written by HATS own Janice Whitaker, Sleeping Beauty in 2006, Babes in the wood in 2007, Dick Whittington, written by HATS Hen the Pen in 2008, Trouble in Pantoland in 2009. In 2010 we presented Puss in Boots and in 2011 we did Jack and the Beanstalk. We had fun with Cinderella in 2012, Scrooge in 2013, Aladdin in 2014, Beauty and the Beast in 2015, The Wizard of Oz in 2016, Snow White in 2018 and Alice in Wonderland in 2019.
In 2006 we could not agree on a professionally written show so we decided to write our own. This was again something very different for us but did give us great scope for our members to really shine. The first of these shows was an all music variety show in 2006 and called "Around the world with music" which was full of song and dance. Our second show in this style was in 2008 and was called "Song for all seasons" and both were very well supported.
The last of this type of show to date was "Lost in Time" in 2011 but this one was slightly different as it was fully scripted story about children lost in time. This was also the first time that we experimented with new lighting, sound and special effects.
In 2011 we performed a one off "Old Time Music Hall Show" especially written by Jill Enefer for the Weeting Rally. This was really outside of our comfort zone and needed some well timed planning as we had to ship everything over to the site for the show and then remove straight after.
In 2012 we won another NODA award for Best Technical Achievement in the District after we invested a lot of money and time in building the stage and lighting that we now have. One of our members, Trevor Vaughan, built us the bespoke stage and presidium arch that we now use for every show. This was designed so that we can erect and take it all down within two days to be stored off site. We also invested in new lighting equipment which has gradually been added to over the past few years.
Our team is made up of a small group of dedicated people who all have the same dream, to put on a great show. We go into an empty hall and install a full bespoke stage before the show and strike the stage the day after the show. We have two days to complete this ready for the first stage rehearsal. It then take three days before opening night to install all the light and sound rigging. To paint scenery and props. To sound check and program the lights. Busy times and not enough hands but hey ho, the show must go on.