In 1979, the S.W.R.I. held a Federation Competition for the Anstruther Grey Cup for a 30 minute Pantomime. The 'Muchty entry was written by several members and produced by Ruth Marshall. The panto was entitled 'The Heartless Princess' and drew on themes from several traditional pantomimes and fairy tales, including Pinocchio and The Sleeping Beauty. Auchtermuchty won the competition and the Cup, and it was decided that the people of the village should have an opportunity of seeing the winning entry.
As there was no money available for any further Productions, the Auchtermuchty 'Rural agreed to initially fund the group to put on the first full length Pantomime for the village, with the proceeds going to a Lynebank Hospital, Dunfermline. Ruth Marshall was producer of 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' by Norman Robbins and it ran for three nights in December at the Victoria Hall. The group had the very great talent of the late Jim Noble on piano. Jim not only played beautifully, but her also wrote the music and lyrics for several Pantos.
For the next three years, the Panto was funded alternatively by the Auchtermuchty Festival Society and the S.W.R.I. However, the Pantomime was growing in popularity and it was felt that if we were to move ahead, we would need to control our own finances. To this end a meeting was called in the Upper Town Hall on Tuesday 13th May 1984 with the object of forming the Auchtermuchty Theatre Group. Subsequently Office Bearers and Committee were elected and the main purpose of the Group established as "To provide entertainment by the people of the village, for the people of the village".
Throughout the history of the Theatre Group there has been a continuing increase in the professionalism of the productions, both on and behind stage. Each year saw more and more adventurous sets and stage effects. Working in partnership with Fife Council, the stage crew eventually had the side walls of the stage removed and replaced with wings. An apron was built giving a six foot area for the so essential 'Front of Curtain' scenes. Permanent lighting was installed on stage and overhead lighting bars fitted on the ceiling for further lighting along with an extensive wiring system centralised on the balcony.
In addition to self-funding all of this, each year the Theatre Group donates money to a specific charity plus smaller sums to local organisations. Over the years a total in excess of £17,000 has been raised for good causes.
It was apparent early on that three nights would not provide seats for all who wished to attend so by 1984 a full six nights were agreed upon with the Monday night given over to the Old Folks Welfare in it's entirety, and wonderful audiences they have always proved to be. At 160 seats a night we could provide a total of 960 seats for the people of Auchtermuchty and friends and it is seldom that there is an empty seat in the Victoria Hall.
The cast of The Heartless Princess