KATS (Knebworth Amateur Theatrical Society) began life in 1946 as St. Martin Players. Their first show was a Variety Concert in Knebworth Village Hall to raise funds for a Church Hall. Variety has been their key word ever since. Now back in a village hall

KATS (Knebworth Amateur Theatrical Society) began life in 1946 as St. Martin Players. Their first show was a Variety Concert in Knebworth Village Hall to raise funds for a Church Hall. Variety has been their key word ever since. Now back in a village hall home, they put on two productions a year. The last show, The Good Old Days?, featuring two unpublished musical plays, received wide acclaim. Past productions include plays by Shakespeare, Alan Ayckbourn, Tom Stoppard and Jeffrey Archer.

New members are always welcome. Contact secretary Jo Simson 01438 814166. Rehearsals are on Monday and Thursday nights, productions are in Spring and Autumn.

Letchworth Arcadians have been entertaining audiences in the area for over 50 years. Formed in 1952 they have made their 'home' in the Norton Community Centre in Letchworth Garden City. Their major shows were initially staged at St Francis Theatre in Letchworth. In 1978 they made the move to the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage, where they now perform two musicals a year. Currently Rodgers' and Hammerstein's Carousel is being staged until November 7. This will be followed in the Spring by Crazy For You with music and lyrics by the Gershwins.

They also have a thriving youth section, the Young Arcadians, founded in 1979. The Young Arcadians stage productions annually at the Plinston Hall in Letchworth GC and will be performing Thoroughly Modern Millie in February half term, 2010.

In recent years Letchworth Arcadians and Young Arcadians are proud to have received, between them, no fewer than 9 awards for best productions from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.

The Stevenage Lytton Players have just marked their 60th anniversary and now have even more to celebrate after recently receiving planning permission for a new purpose-built 150-seat theatre at their site in Vardon Road.

With more than 160 members, the group has four sections: youth, musical, drama and music hall, as well as a strong technical crew and its own properties store and wardrobe.

Rehearsals for all shows take place at the current Lytton Theatre, which boasts a bar and a green room, as well as a small auditorium which can seat around 80.

Rehearsals are also about to get underway for the group's ever-popular music hall, which runs over two weekends in January.

The Players have a strong social calendar, with a murder mystery weekend Murder in the Wings performed by the Dial M Players on November 27 and 28 and a Christmas show taking place on December 19.

Recent critically acclaimed shows include Titanic: The Musical at the Gordon Craig in May and Willy Russell's play Blood Brothers, which was recognised by the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) as the best drama production in the region in 2008.

To find out more visit www.lyttonplayers.co.uk or call 0870 777 7619.

The Settlement Players. In 1923 Mr James Dudley was the warden of the newly opened adult education centre called The Settlement, which was then based at the site of the Letchworth museum in Norton Way South. Seeing how much local residents enjoyed touring drama groups' productions, Dudley decided to start his own drama society.

The Settlement Players held their debut performance on Wednesday 19th December, presenting The Little Plays of St Francis, by Laurence Houseman. The show was taken to three venues in three days, beginning at Ashwell Village Hall before moving on to the Co-operative Hall and Fairfield Hospital in Letchworth.

In 1925, The Settlement moved into the Skittles Inn in Nevells Road, Letchworth and the former bowling alley became a theatre with a temporary platform for a stage. The Players now had a home to settle into, and have been steadily improving facilities since then. Records show at least one play has been performed every year since the group began, and often more than that - as was the case during the Second World War.

Never ones to be typecast, The Players have performed everything from comedy to tragedy and attracted audiences to over 230 plays by playwrights, such as William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Noel Coward, Anton Chekhov, Willy Russell and Alan Bennett, to name a few.

Hitchin Thespians is one of the oldest and largest amateur operatic societies in the country. Founded in 1902 it has over 400 members and patrons.

Their thriving, award-winning society, offers members a wide number of opportunities to participate in shows and concerts.

Each year they present two fully staged musicals at The Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. Thespians have presented some shows that many other societies are wary of. Indeed their bravery has paid off with La Cage Aux Follies and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, both very challenging shows, winning regional awards.

In addition there are occasionally smaller scale productions of musicals which are performed at the purpose built rehearsal suite, Woodside Hall, or at the Town Hall, Hitchin.

Sometimes groups of members get together and perform concerts and shows with a smaller cast.

In addition to musical theatre activities there is a thriving choir. The variety of music performed by this group is staggering, as one member put it - "from Bach to Bernstein!"

There are typically three concerts each year, often performed at Woodside Hall, but sometimes in more surroundings that might suit the performance better such as the lovely parish church of St Mary's in Hitchin.

The Bancroft Players were formed in 1945 from the wartime Hitchin Entertainments Society. From the beginning the group's objectives were the production of plays and the establishment of a permanent theatre for Hitchin.

The first production was Pygmalion, staged at the Town Hall in December 1945.

A joint effort by the Bancroft Players and Hitchin Urban District Council resulted in the construction of The Woodside Open Air Theatre ('The Dell'). It opened in 1951 with a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

A permanent home for the society was found in 1955 and St Annes Hall was finally bought in February 1956 for the sum of �800. It was 1977 when the society drew up plans for a purpose built theatre and launched an appeal for the �80,000 required. In September 1982 Richard Whitmore spoke about the name of the new venue. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had been approached for permission to name the theatre after her. The original idea had been to call it the Queen Elizabeth Theatre but she suggested the unique title The Queen Mother Theatre. Hitchin therefore has the honour of being the UK's only theatre bearing this name.

The September 1983 production A Man for All Seasons was the first play in the newly completed Queen Mother Theatre.

This year they are building a new youth wing to enable the Junior Group and Youth Group (Big Spirit) to expand and grow. Christopher Biggins is heading the fund raising and building started in October.

The Christmas production is A Christmas Carol - a new musical based on the Dickens story of Scrooge. A show for all the family.