Entertaining the troops has always been regarded an important part of thinking in all three branches of the UK Military but it is refreshing all the same to note that this is still very much the case.
For almost 40 years now tucked away in a corner of RAF Lossiemouth the tradition has been kept singing, dancing and laughing along – with a touch of serious drama thrown in from time to time.
Approaching the Buccaneer Theatre Club premises one can be excused for thinking that it was nothing more than an old administrative block – only when you go through the swing doors and into the auditorium do you realise that there is something just a little big special about the place.
Rehearsals are currently in full swing for the annual pantomime production, this year it’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ – a classic fairytale produced by Ally Ferguson and involving a cast of adults and children drawn from both RAF families and members of the local civilian population.
The 2014 production is the latest in a very long line of shows that go back all the way to 1976, when the club presented ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. Since those early days a steady stream of thespian-minded RAF personnel and their families have provided their own unique twists to such as HMS Pinafore, The Mikado and Iolanthe.
“Historically we’ve always had peaks and troughs in terms of interest in the club,” Ally Ferguson said, adding: “But since the 1970’s we have usually managed to produce three productions each year.
“The Sleeping Beauty is the latest of a long line of family shows that we do around January or February each year, while in the Autumn we put on a series of one-act plays, these give people who have not had much experience of acting or producing to try their ideas out in a five-minute show and keeps the interest going.
“Around the Spring time we do another full production – the last one was our version of Allo’ Allo’ that proved quite successful and was such a lot of fun to do.”
Ally admits that unlike more traditional theatre groups Buccaneer sometimes has to “think out the box” in their approach, holding rehearsals as and when a majority of their members are actually available.
She said: “The nature of an RAF base is that we have a turnover of people because not every member is here all the time, they may be posted away or perhaps are on operations and that can be problematic in terms of rehearsals.
“In fact we had to delay the auditions for our latest production because a couple of the guys taking part were in Afghanistan!”
On the other hand having their own theatre provides unique advantages: “We don’t need to rehearse in a local church hall or community facility so we’re not competing with anyone.”
While the on-base theatre can cause issues in providing access for those members drawn from the civilian population these are not a setback in any way. Ally said: “We have always been a club that is not restricted to RAF personnel either in our membership or our audiences, quite the opposite in fact.
“We have had people just phoning up and saying they would like to be part of the theatre club and we are always welcoming with the result that we have quite a few non-RAF members.
“In fact that helps us to maintain stability in the club and helps us cope with the constant changes that service life brings.”
The Buccaneer Theatre Club present Ben Crocker’s “The Sleeping Beauty” directed by Martin Carr, from Saturday, February 1 with a matinee performance at 2pm. There will be further matinee’s on Saturday, February 8 and Sunday, February 9.
Evening performances of the show will be held at 7.30pm on Friday, February 7 and Saturday, February 8.
Tickets are priced from £6 for Adults and £5 for concessions, while family tickets for two adults and two children can be purchased at £20. Telephone number for ticket details and bookings is 07930 361721.