Welcome to the website of our two research projects, the first fully funded academic studies of amateur theatre in the UK.

Video Postcard: Brian Palmer Panther and 70 years in Amateur Dramatics

Added on by Helen Nicholson.

Post written by: Erin Walcon

Last year, I had the privilege of meeting Brian Palmer Panther at the NODA NE conference in Bridlington. Brian's career in amateur dramatics spans 70+ years and he has served as chairman and president of South Yorkshire Musical Comedy Society for over 20 years. Speaking with Brian has been one of the highlights of this project for me so far, and I wanted to share just a couple of his thoughts about his first moments in amateur dramatics. 

Brian's story captures what many others have been telling us too - that people often begin their involvement in amateur dramatics through their family... and continue it with their own children later in life.  


Erin: Can I begin by asking you how long you’ve been involved in amateur dramatics and the reasons you came to be involved in the first place?

Brian: 70 years. 4th of March. 

Erin: you remember the exact day?

Brian: Well, I was 14 years of age. I’d left school – I was working in an office. It’s a very big mining area where I live, South Yorkshire.  My mother was in the chorus, my father was backstage helping; he didn’t want to be on stage at all.  And my sister, she was a lovely soprano singer –she was two years younger than I was, so at that stage she wasn’t involved. I used to go along to rehearsals and then they said ‘Right we need a callboy’.  So my first job was call boy.  ‘Right, 2 minutes on the stage!’ And then I progressed from that to being a spot-light boy, that was the spotlight on the side of the stage, following the artists and what have you. And then just after my 16th birthday, I did my first show.  I was allowed to be in the chorus then, and one of my main jobs, when I wasn’t on the stage, was, back of the theatre, there was a door there, and across the road was a public house.  And my job was to fetch big jugs of beer for the men to drink when they were offstage. 

Erin: Really?

Brian: Yeah.  Like I say, my mother was in it. So I just went on and carried on.

Contribute your own: Please do send us a clip of someone from your society telling us about their first moments stepping on stage... it can be a short clip (under 2 minutes) and we'll gladly share it on the website!