End of an era is a new beginning for Fry Club Panto

Published on: 07 Jul 2014

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A drama group’s 40-year association with Keynsham’s Fry Club has come to an end this month.

Fry Club Panto, which was set up by workers at the chocolate factory in the 1970s, has moved out of the social club and conference centre ahead of its relocation at the Somerdale site.

Besides using the premises for rehearsal space, the group also had a workshop and storage space at Somerdale for all the scenery and costumes used in its annual productions over the decades.

Members faced uncertainty over a new home but now it seems Saltford Community Association can step in to save the day, offering the use of its hall in Wedmore Road.

Panto club director Louise Smee said: “It is an end of an era but it’s also a new start, too. We will have a bit of a shake-up and it will be nice to be part of the Saltford community where we can use the facilities and share our resources with them too, particularly the drama club there. The Saltford Community Association has saved us.”

Robert Stone, a former Cadbury’s worker who has been creating pantomime sets for 30 years for the group, said the club had become used to moving around as the site evolved, moving the workshop from the basement, to offices upstairs in the factory to the current container 10 years ago. Fry Club Panto

But this will be the first time the group has faced leaving the Somerdale site entirely. Robert said: “The club was part of the social life of the factory and the panto was one of the major events of the year.

“We have always had to adapt and move around the factory as things have changed and we are all determined to keep going.”

Louise added: “This is about grass roots drama, providing an opportunity which is affordable to all – anyone can get involved and get the chance to have drama coaching and work with a professor of music from Bath Spa, with many people giving up their time for free to work with the club.”

The group is still looking for a workshop where they can adapt the scenery they have amassed over 40 years and create new pieces for future productions.

Anyone who could help the group, or is interested in getting involved in productions, can call Louise Smee on 07889 345086.

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