100 Years of NEMS

The Society was born in 1914, as a group of people who read plays to satisfy their interest in theatre. We have very little documented evidence of their existence at that time. The reading of plays naturally lead to their performances and the group was known as the New Earswick Dramatic Society. this becoming a part of an amateur theatre movement in Britain which has a histiory stretching back to the 14th century and the medieval mystery plays.

The society thrived. From performing plays in early years it moved on to Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the first of these being Trial By Jury which was performed in 1928. Many of the operatic societies started with this little gem.

Group shot of members celebrating 100 years of NEMS
Celebrating our Centenary

The following is an interesting extract from the Secretary’s notes from the AGM in March 1933

“…although we had a great deal of illness to contend with, we have had a good season as a whole. The Society’s membership is 260 this season against 244 last. We have given 24 shows this season against last season’s 17”

One play every fortnight! But they did have 260 members!

The impression is that the Society was at that point run as a club. Play readings were held fortnightly ans a G & S operetta was performed annually. In 1935, on completion of building of the new Folk Hall, the society produced The Gondoliers. The subscription at this time was increased from 2/- to 3/6. In order to more accurately reflect their range of activities the members decided on a change of title in 1936 to become New Earswick Dramatic and Operatic Society. In 1939 the society decided to perform Tom Jones, However due to the outbreak of World War II it was never staged.

In 1945 there was a surge in membership to 401 and the society returned to it’s pre-war pattern of performances. In 1965 performances in the plays waned and we changed our name to New Earswick Operatic Society, then more recently to New Earswick Musical Society. At the time of the change it was decided that we should keep “New Earswick” in the title, thus preserving the long association with the village where we rehearse.

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