Ta-Dah! Theatre Company established in February 2022, Ta-Dah! Theatre Company is an independent amateur theatre club based at Biddenden Village Hall in Kent.
After a lifetime in amateur theatre and two years with no theatrical activity due to covid, Geoff Down and David Waters realised they shared the same ambition:
To start a new amateur theatre, based in a community, producing entertainment by and for the local community.
To do things differently from the ‘norm’ and to ‘stretch’ everybody’s talents to the best they can achieve.
Ta-Dah! was not to be bogged down with ‘rules and regs’; there’s no committee and no constitution.
The mission is to work together as a group with everyone ‘mucking-in’ doing whatever needs doing.
Biddenden was the obvious choice. It has a great community spirit and it’s own excellent facilities with two large halls.
In 1907, Biddenden Consolidated Charities agreed to contribute up to £500 of its surplus funds to build a Club House through a new organisation – the Parish Club House Charity, now called the Village Halls and Sports Committee.
The Parish Club House was built on land donated by Mr Tylden-Pattenson of Dashmonden, in 1910. The building originally consisted of a Hall, Billiard Room, Card Room and Rifle Range. Ladies were only allowed to use the rooms on two afternoons a week. How times have changed!
During the 1914-18 war it was used as a ten bed hospital for convalescing Belgian soldiers with local ladies working as volunteer nurses.
In WWII the hall was used as classrooms for girls from Downham Central School in Bromley who were evacuated to Biddenden, before moving to a more remote location due to air raids in the area.The hall was also used to host dances for US airmen stationed nearby.
In the 1950s, 26 different organisations were holding meetings and activities in the hall – and it was clear the facilities needed to be expanded.
In 1962, plans were developed and an appeal to raise £24,000 for a new hall was launched. Funds were raised through ‘Village Spectaculars’ (held for eight consecutive years between 1969 and 1976).
The new facilities were completed and ready for opening by Dame Edith Evans in 1968 (a famous actress, best remembered for playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest).
How it started
Biddenden had long since lost it’s amdram group, but now seemed to be as good a time as any to bring it back.A launch meeting was organised at the New Village Hall, to see if anyone was interested. It was publicised in the parish magazine, a few posters around the village and flyers through letterboxes.The turn-out was impressive and brought together about twenty keen folk of various ages and experience. So, with the welcome support of the Village Hall Management,Ta-Dah! was born.
The old building was largely kept intact, and an extension added to the rear comprising a large hall, a new kitchen and toilets and lengthening of the Rifle Range.
Fundraising continued in the 1970s to pay off loans for the New Hall and for further sports facilities. A major annual event was the ‘Art and Needlework Exhibition’ which ran for over forty years and raised a huge amount of money for the Halls and for other village groups.
Once the New Hall loans had been paid off attention turned to developing the Gordon Jones Field, where more land was purchased by the Parish Council. Changing Rooms and Squash Courts were opened in 1974, followed by theTennis Courts in 1982 and the Bowls Green in 1989.
The main challenge today is to keep all the facilities managed by the Charity in good condition – and we are most grateful for the support we get from theTractorfest and other local organisations and individuals, as well as grant giving bodies such as Biddenden Parish Council, Ashford Borough Council, and Kent County Council.
Ta-Dah is very grateful to the Village Hall committee for their enthusiastic support for our new venture. Ta-dah meets in the new hall twice weekly for rehearsals and hopes to present at least two shows every year, here in the heart of Biddenden.