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The 2017 Committee

History of Upstage

How It All Began

The idea of an English-speaking amateur dramatic society in Berne was thought up by Rosamund Bandi when she returned to Switzerland in 1981 after spending 2 years in West Africa, where she had been a member of a local group. She got together with a few friends and they discussed the question of demand for such entertainment in the Swiss capital. After deciding that it was worth a try, they put an advertisement in the local press and hired the church hall at St. Ursula's. Around 40 people turned up for the first meeting, including several people who are still loyal and hard-working members today. One memorable participant at this initial meeting was a German mime artist who was very keen for us to do mime. We had to point out that the whole idea was entertainment in English!

After taking the first step a core of seriously interested people was formed and plans were laid for our first production. Eva Kohler offered to direct Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn, and we set about looking for a possible venue. After visiting a number of highly unsuitable places we decided on the school hall at Köniz Gymnasium, which was booked for a grand total of 2 nights! The play was cast and rehearsals started. Meanwhile most of the cast and other enthusiastic helpers started building the set in a "borrowed" workshop. One of our most valuable acquisitions at this time was yards and yards of discarded book-binding linen which we used to build our first set of flats. It was only years later that they had to be replaced.

And suddenly the first night was upon us! Somehow, to our own astonishment, we had managed to drum up a good deal of interest and we played to well filled houses. The response was incredible, and we knew that all our efforts had been worthwhile.