Over 100 current and former members of the Bath University Student Theatre Society met in the Claverton Rooms on Saturday 16 February to celebrate 50 years of student theatre at Bath.
Starting out as Bath University Drama Society, the club has taken on many forms – and many venues – throughout the years. The society adopted the name Bath University Student Theatre in 1971, and has continued to be a home away from home for theatre fans at Bath ever since. Over the decades BUST has seen a cast of hundreds perform, produce, direct and hone their talents in various classrooms and lecture theatres across campus.
Music and the arts found a more permanent home at the University in 1980 when the main campus performance space – an old undersized barn and its outbuilding – was replaced with the multi-functional Arts Barn. The Arts Barn, fondly remembered by BUST alumni from the '80s cohort onwards, was integrated into The Edge arts centre in 2014.
University Archivist Lizzie Richmond provided reunion attendees with the opportunity to reminisce on Saturday afternoon, opening up the Archives with a curated display of posters, pictures and programmes dating back to the late 1960s. Alumni visited throughout the afternoon to share memories of their favourite – and most controversial – productions and spot familiar faces from old photographs.
Later that evening, BUST Committee members put together their own display of photos and memories in the Claverton Rooms as they welcomed alumni and current students to a black-tie reception. Following a glass of fizz, guests were welcomed with speeches from former Chair of BUST 1971-72 David Southeard (BSc Sociology 1972) and current BUST Chair Lydia Williams (BSc Psychology 2019).
The star of the show was Pat Bishop (Honorary MA 1986), introduced by John Palmer (BSc Sociology 1972). 'Aunty Pat' joined Bath in 1974 as Director of Drama and the Arts, and is credited throughout her tenure as responsible for the formation of the University Orchestra and Choir, as well as a number of courses in fine arts. Her speech reflected the love and passion that she still holds for student theatre at Bath. Now aged 97 Pat remains an active performer, attending weekly tap dancing and pilates classes.
'I would like to say how delighted I am to be here tonight and to meet so many of you past students who loved being in productions. That's what it's all about.' - Pat Bishop, 'Mother of drama at Bath', 1963 – 86
Following speeches, the BUST committee shared a montage video of photographs, videos and performances from past years. The evening concluded with mingling and dancing.
'The rest of the event ran beautifully with current and past members ending up on the dance floor together' - Jack Beadle, BUST Publicity Officer.