The 42nd Henley Drama Festival is located in the picturesque Kenton Theatre, which is the fourth oldest working theatre in the country. The festival is weeklong, whereby local amateur theatre companies go head to head. They are judged nightly by a Guild of Drama Adjudicator, the stakes are high and the competition broods over the week.
There are also additional rules for the players to adhere to. The most strict is the 15 minute allocation to set up and dismantle the each set. Any lagging is harshly penalised.
I had a chance to sneak into a performance by The Forum Players with a show by their youth group, which looked dismally into the role of humans in destroying the planet. In a charming symposium run by garden animals including a fly, an owl and a fox, they come up with a plan to stop any further destruction.
The festival gives amateur theatre the voice to scrutinise society in a way professional theatre sometimes lacks. It is contemporary, honest and raw performance that is always exciting to watch.
The festival has two more evenings of contested shows, with the popular Henley Playes, Didcot Pheonix Drama Group, The Hurtspierpoint Players and Beaconsfield’s Young Theatre still to perform.
The Kenton Theatre May 6th-May 11. Tickets on sale: http://www.kentontheatre.co.uk/