The Dragon Theatre sits inside a fittingly striking building which was originally built as a congressional chapel in the 1890s.
The Theatre opened with a celebratory gala in October 1959. In its promotional programme were the following words: “This little theatre is an experiment.”
In the 70 years since, that ‘little experiment’ has become a major theatre in the area, and a pillar in the Barmouth community - showcasing over 100 events every year, and having up to 50 local groups making use of its facilities.
All of this was made possible by the efforts of one Barmouth based group in the 1950s, Bermo Arts.
Theatre Manager James Cowdery said: “Bermo Arts were instrumental in setting up the theatre, at the time they were the biggest amateur dramatics group in the area, with more than 300 members.”
To this day, Bermo Arts and the Dragon Theatre share a special relationship, James said he wants the theatre to “support and grow the group back to what it used to be.”
To do this, they run a drama club for children aged up to 16 - one of the many community activities held there. The club is held on Wednesdays, and will soon be taking part in a fully booked upcoming play called the "One Day Play".
After the "One Day Play", see the one man show and annual Christmas performance, the “Winter Spectacular” on Saturday December 16.
James, who is the main man behind the show, said: “Take a journey around the world at this magical time of year, and sing along to your favourite Christmas Carols in this winter themed quest.”
Also ‘back by popular demand’ on Saturday 9 December is the murder mystery show “He’s Behind You!”
This is the third time for the show to return to the Dragon Theatre. Over the summer, the group put on two murder mysteries, one with an 80s theme, and the other saw Basil unmasked as the murderer in a Faulty Towers themed show. This time, the show will have a pantomime theme.
“The theme for the upcoming murder mystery is a pantomime, it’s a bit of a cheeky pantomime which is why it’s over 18s only. There will be some set scenes, based around the murder, and it will be up to you to find out who the murderer is.”
After getting to the bottom of the mystery, get to the bottom of the Christmas buffet, before ending the night with a disco.
On top of a plethora of performances, the theatre will see the return of its Christmas fair on Saturday 2 December, with local businesses selling all sorts of Christmas gifts from their stalls, including homemade honey, candles and a variety of arts and crafts.
James will also be putting on a free film and disco event for children on Saturday 23 December. The theatre hosted a similar event during Halloween and had up to 90 people attending.
This is only one example of the many community centred events hosted at the Theatre. As well as the many events and activities hosted by local groups making use of it.
You’d be forgiven that with so many events ending the year, that the theatre might take a break in the new year. But between the many shows, performances and events, there are already a range of events lined up for 2024. Including live performances from top Welsh singers such as Ani Glass, Bwncath and “quite a famous” unnamed singer all appearing next year.
Whatever you enjoy, the theatre has something to offer. James said: “We’re not just a theatre, we’re a community centre. We’re used for a number of different things, we have many weekly activities taking place which are funded by Gwynedd Council, there’s a dance club, a film club, free lunches, and our DementiaGo scheme.
“Many groups also hire our rooms for a variety of purposes, a local school hires one for teaching, and we’re hiring the whole theatre out for a paranormal investigation in February 2024.”
You can find out more, and book tickets for the many events taking place at the Dragon Theatre throughout the year, and many community activities making use of it, by going to the Dragon Theatre website: http://www.dragontheatre.co.uk/