|And so it was. The original coach house theatre was achieved through far-sighted vision, dogged fund raising, sheer hard work, the support of Faversham people and, first and foremost, the generosity of local benefactor, Leslie Smith.
The story goes that, during a Faversham Players meeting to discuss the feasibility of a permanent venue, Leslie suddenly invited everyone to follow him to the old coach house in the corner of the car park. The Players could, he said, have the building for a theatre if they liked.
They did like, and thus the Arden Theatre gradually, hesitantly and, at times, painfully, came into being. With 72 seats, a painted bedhead for a sign, allegedly home to a ghost, absolutely no wing space stage right and very little stage left, a dressing-room the size of a double wardrobe at the back of the stage until – sheer luxury! – a caravan-cum-dressing room was put up in the garden, the theatre endeared itself immediately as the setting for the newly formed Arden Theatre Group.
The old building had atmosphere and charm, and the Arden made its mark with highly successful productions, an active youth group (with several youngsters heading for the professional stage) and above all, FUN – and a worthwhile contribution to the leisure-time of the community
Since the demolition of the coach house in 1992 and the move to the present purpose-built theatre a year later, the Arden has built on its experience and gone from strength to strength. With a varied programme of productions each year, the theatre boasts an active roll of members to tread the boards, direct, build sets, or carry out the myriad other tasks – front of house, make-up, costume, for instance – that are part of amateur theatre. Every production is a team effort; trust, camaraderie and life-long friendships are bonded during the course of a play. As hobbies go, it’s one of the best.