Curtain falls on Denholm Drama Group after 60 years of highs and lows

Denholm Drama Group's sound engingeer David Butterfield and lighting engineer Alan Dowler-Smith.
Denholm Drama Group's sound engingeer David Butterfield and lighting engineer Alan Dowler-Smith.

Denholm Drama Group has taken its final curtain call after 60 years of amateur productions in the region.

The group, which was based at Southdean Village Hall, has folded after a last-ditch call for new members failed to attract more actors or stage hands.

“We have tried out best for some years to get people interested but that interest is just not there,” member Alan Dowler-Smith said: “Sadly we’ve had to take the decision to fold the group.”

In recent years the club has found it difficult to find enough men to fill roles in its amateur dramatic productions.

And its ageing backstage crew has had struggled with the logistics of transporting a portable theatre around the countryside.

“The group has, in recent years, either had to cut short or completely cancel a tour because of the difficulties of not having enough members to produce a performance to an acceptable standard,” Alan added.

The drama group, formed around the 1950s, has faced potential extinction before and managed to survive.

The group’s first recorded performances began in 1978 when pantomimes took place every year at the village primary school, often involving the school children.

But on April 19, 2006, a catastrophic fire destroyed the school and all of the group’s assets - all that survived was a top hat.

Alan, a lighting technician, said: “All our assets were lost and with no insurance cover it meant the future looked bleak. But with generous donations from Hawick Salvation Army and grant aid from Scottish Borders Council, new equipment was purchased and the group found a new role as repertory players, touring local village halls, mostly playing one-act plays.”

But there’ll be no rising from the ashes this time, as the club, left with just 10 regular members and only two male actors, has made its concrete decision to folk.

Alan added: “This year, the situation has come to a head.

“It was decided that as a last-ditched effort, a more robust recruitment drive should be carried out before September but that, if insufficient interest was not expressed, with deep regret the group would close down forever and its assets redistributed in accordance with its constitution, bringing to an end over 60 years of service to the local community.”