It seems likely that there has been a Drama Group in Warton at least since the early 1950s and possibly earlier.  Until recently there was a large stage at the back of The Church Hall, next to St Oswald’s Church and plays were produced in the traditional manner with the audience in rows in the main body of the hall and the play upon the stage. During the 1970s, Mrs Jean Oddy, the wife of the vicar, directed several productions and in a way might be credited with establishing the high standard that the group has maintained. In 1982 there was a memorable production of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in The Church Hall using a large thrust stage attached to the main stage, with the audience on three sides. This led to a series of productions for and involving young people.

The ruins of The Old Rectory, opposite St Oswald’s, are a rare example of a 14th Century Stone house with a great hall and chambers. It’s owned by English Heritage and early in the history of the group was recognised as a site with superb dramatic potential. Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple was performed here in  1975 and subsequently The Down-Going of Orpheus Hawkins, the Marriage of Figaro, The Crucible, The Lion in Winter and Abelard and Heloise. The performance of these plays was often split between The Ruins and The Village Hall .The cast members processed up the village street to perform the second half of the play in the Village Hall and in the case of the Lion in Winter, inside the church itself.  The Ruins are surrounded by lawns and grassy slopes and in 1984 the group staged extracts from A Midsummer Night’s Dream with local school children in the open air. The group’s love affair with the ruins has faded recently with concerns about bad weather and technical issues. However, The Rectory Ruins are a great asset to the village which we still feel could be the focus of a Summer Festival.

For the last thirty years The Village Hall in Back Lane has become the permanent home of the group and the new space was seen as an opportunity to work in a theatrical traverse. That is to say, with the audience on opposite sides of the performance space and seated on raised tiers. We’ve grown to enjoy the intimate relationship between actor and audience that this performance style promotes. At the same time working like this brings challenges -  directors have to be very inventive with set design and there’s nowhere to hide for actors or crew! Or, indeed, the audience! The group celebrates  these challenges -and the ‘black box’ space that we create. We think they give the group a certain “edge” in comparison with other companies.

More recently the group has extended itself further by ‘touring’ productions from Warton to The Heron Theatre in Beetham. This beautiful, small space seats only 80 audience members and has now been the venue for sell-out performances of Hedda Gabler (2014), Twelfth Night (2016), Our Country’s Good (2017), Three Sisters (2018) and Hindle Wakes (2020)

Inevitably, with each passing phase in a group’s history, members coalesce around individuals who bring unique and enduring qualities. It is worth noting that Tony Weymouth, Cliff Wilkinson and John Holland made memorable contributions to the progress and reputation of Warton Drama Group.