The Woking Drama Association
The Woking Drama Association or the WDA was founded shortly after local drama groups in the Woking area held their first drama festival back in 1959. Over fifty years later the WDA has a strong membership comprising of 15 local drama, light operatic, musical, dance and youth theatre groups.
The WDA’s main purpose is to stage Woking’s annual one act drama festival in October each year. This is one of the largest amateur festivals of its type in England running over two weeks and regularly attracting over twenty competitive performances. Each evening the plays are adjudicated by a member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators who will give constructive and concise commentary on the plays they have seen. At the end of the fortnight the adjudicator will recall three plays that in their view will present an entertaining and balanced evening of theatre at the end of which they, the adjudicator, will announce the winners.
The winner of the Woking Drama Festival is eligible for selection to take part in the British All Winners Festival organised by the National Drama Festivals Association in July each year. In recent times the winners of the Woking Festival have gone on to win this British one act festival, an achievement that WDA is immensely proud of and a good testimony to the strength and calibre of amateur drama in the Woking area.
Away from festival time, the WDA works as an umbrella group to represent the needs of its membership with Woking Borough Council and with the Ambassadors Theatre Group who manage the Rhoda McGaw Theatre that is located in Woking’s entertainment complex. This 200 seat “professional theatre” plays host to the Drama Festival and is used by members of the WDA throughout the year to stage full length plays, light opera, and musical and dance productions. Equipped with the very latest technical resource in sound and light and a large stage, “the Rhoda” provides amateur drama with all the tools to challenge artistic and production ambitions which are not always achievable in school or village halls. Member groups of the WDA are eligible for concessionary hire rates.
As a registered charity the WDA also works to advance the interests in drama generally and each year a bursary scheme is run for people from member groups who wish to attend courses in directing, acting or the technical aspects of theatre. It is the WDA’s plan to start a youth drama festival in Woking which should support the work of the National Curriculum and also introduce young people to the excitement and disciplines required of live theatre.
The WDA is managed by a committee elected annually from its member groups. In addition the committee is supported by vice –presidents each of whom will have been appointed because of the work and knowledge they have of the amateur theatre scene and the work and support they have given in previous years to the Woking Drama Association.
Membership of the Woking Drama Association is open to all local drama or theatre groups who are “not for profit” organisations within the Woking area, or who have a large numbers of members residing there. There are also Associate Memberships for individuals.
The WDA believes that the calibre and strength of the productions its members stage in the Rhoda McGaw can be compared to that seen on the professional stage. But do not rely on this belief alone, please come and see for yourself one night, just how good Woking’s amateur theatre really is.