The Society first saw the light of day in 1901 when it staged Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Trial By Jury”. It began life as Kingsbridge Amateur Operatic Society – KAOS. We can only speculate whether or not this acronym was appropriate! The Society ceased to operate during World War I but restarted again in 1920.
After the 1932 production the Society was disbanded and lay dormant for 24 years. It was re-formed in 1956 with a production of “The Mikado” and since then, with the exception of 1977 and 1987, has staged a musical production every year. In the late ‘70s the Society changed its name to Kingsbridge Amateur Theatrical Society – KATS.
For many years the Society’s “home” was the Town Hall Theatre in Kingsbridge. This was a small but very atmospheric theatre and some very highly regarded productions were staged there. The last production at the Town Hall Theatre was “Anything Goes” in 2000. Shortly after the show the theatre was converted into what is now The Reel Cinema. The only venue in our area suitable for staging full-scale musicals is the Village Hall at Malborough where the Malborough Amateur Dramatic Society have been staging very successful Pantomimes for many years.
It was to there that we moved in 2001 for our production of “My Fair Lady”. A change of venue brought new challenges and new opportunities and the Society has certainly adapted very quickly to the new environment. The quality of the performances, directing and scenery continue to be highly praised. KATS has received several ‘Awards for Excellence’ and for its technical and artistic ability – most recently the national NODA technical excellence award for our 2011 production of “Chess – the musical”
In 2007 KATS embarked on a programme of summer plays, the first being a comedy, “Beside the Seaside”, and its success has helped to establish a late summer play as a part of the KATS programme ever since. It may now be that it will be quite some time before we perform once again in a fully equipped Theatre within our town, but our transformation of Malborough Hall into a raked-seating ‘real’ theatre is always a spectacular success so wherever KATS is we look forward to staging quality musicals and plays for many years to come.