On 15th October 1947, nine people met at Frank Snelson’s butcher’s shop on Park Lane intending to establish an amateur dramatic society associated with Macclesfield, a society which, according to Tom Bancroft, the Society’s first secretary, “belonged to the townspeople and was independent of any other organisation”. Frank Snelson would become the founding Chairman of MADS.
‘See How They Run’ was chosen as the first production and rehearsals began initially in a small room over Frank Snelson’s shop later moving to a local factory canteen. The play opened on Monday 9th February 1948 at the Brocklehurst Memorial Hall on Queen Victoria Street and ran for five nights.
The Brocklehurst Memorial hall continued to be used for performances until 1954 when the Methodist Educational School on Lord Street was used as a home for MADS. A useable little theatre was eventually constructed on the first floor. MADS would eventually go on to purchase the building outright, providing a permanent home for the Society and a dedicated theatrical space for the town.
In 1976, stringent fire regulations necessitated transferring the theatre to the ground floor. This was only a qualified success due to the problems caused by having an open stage with very little back room, reduced number of seating and limited views due to pillars supporting the upper floor. Therefore, in 1980, it was decided to rebuild the whole theatre reintroducing a proscenium arch and creating tiered seating in a new auditorium. The initial planned closure of nine months would stretch to almost three and a half years. On Wednesday 16th May 1984, the theatre was officially declared open by Nicholas Winterton MP and the first production, a revival of Philip King’s “On Monday Next” was performed.
Since then, MADS has celebrated both its Golden and Diamond Jubilees, performing 250 main season productions, and many more one acts, studio productions and festival entries. Further development has taken place in the theatre. The stage was permanently extended, a state-of-the-art flying grid was installed over the stage, the downstairs wardrobe was converted into a bar and lounge, the stage storage has been expanded and the cellar refurbished, providing a permanent home for the extensive wardrobe and creating extra space for our furniture and props.
The theatre is accessible to wheelchair users and the auditorium has up to two wheelchair spaces per performance. It is possible for companions to sit alongside wheelchair users in the auditorium. At this time, wheelchair spaces cannot be purchased online; to book these, please telephone or email our Box Office who will be happy to advise on seating and can also provide further information about our accessible performances. If leaving a message to book tickets, please mention if wheelchair spaces will be required.
The theatre has accessible toilets, including an alarm system and mirror.