Founded in 1926, the Scottish Community Drama Association (SCDA) supports and promotes amateur drama throughout Scotland. We catch up with Carole Williams - SCDA National Drama Advisor, to find out more about SCDA, including it's membership offer and annual One Act Festival . . .

What is the SCDA and why was it established?
The SCDA came into being in 1926, after Geoffrey Whitworth, founder and director of the British Drama League in London, received an invite from the New York Little Theatre Movement to send out the best of British Drama to compete in their annual festival. An invitation was sent out to all British Drama League members in Scotland, to attend a meeting in Glasgow to look at how Scotland could take part in the selection process.

In the early years the winning team from the Scottish Festival competed in London in the British Final. Excitingly in those days the winner of the Howard de Walden Cup from the British Festival was invited to go to New York to compete against the best of American amateurs. In 1928 Ardrossan & Saltcoats Players won the British Finals with ‘The Old Lady Shows her Medals’ by J M Barrie, and went on to win the David Belasco Cup in New York and perform their play to over 55,000 people in Scotland, England, America and Canada!

Today SCDA aims to:
- Support and foster creativity in performance and writing throughout Scotland
- Support members and clubs in artistic, personal and social development
- Develop links and partnerships throughout the theatrical world and the voluntary se

ctor

- Act as an advocate for community and amateur theatre

What are the benefits of becoming a member of SCDA? 
We offer club or individual membership and becoming a member of SCDA gives you access to the following benefits:

– 4 editions of Scene, our dedicated in-house magazine, either electronically or by post
– Discounted tickets for Pitlochry Festival Theatre
– Services of our Professionally Qualified National Drama Adviser
– Membership of our National Script Library
– Updates on legislation relevant to our Organisation
– Access to workshops tailored to suit your club or production
– Invitation to our Social AGM weekend in November
– Voting rights at the AGM
– Network of like-minded members

Please go to www.scda.org.uk and select the Members option to find our more information on how to join and take advantage of a special offer running at the moment if you take our Individual Membership.

What is the SCDA One Act Play Festival?

The One Act Play Festival is a national annual event coordinated by SCDA. All entrants participate within their own district and a winning group is selected. The winners of each district stage then progress to the Divisional Festival and the winning two entrants go on to perform at the Scottish Final. At the final a Scottish overall winner is selected to take part in the British Final, which is hosted in rotation by Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

At the final an adjudicator gives a short assessment of every competing performance to the audience, presents awards for different categories and chooses the overall winner.

If a club is premiering an original play in the festival then the author can also enter the play (not the performance) into the Scott Salver competition, which is judged by a panel of readers.

It sounds like a serious affair - do goups need to be at a certain level to participate?
Although competition forms part of the motivation for entering the One Act Festival they are absolutely not cutthroat events. We know, based on feedback from clubs that have entered, how much they enjoy performing to a new audience and socialising with like minded-people.   

Our Festivals also provide an opportunity to learn both from the adjudicators and from each other. We welcome non-competitive entries at all our festivals for clubs who don’t wish to compete but would still like to experience the fantastic atmosphere and fun to be had. To enter, a club just has to be a current SCDA member.

Some Divisions run full-length play festivals which are also very popular, see the SCDA website for more details.

What training and development opportunities does SCDA offer?
SCDA employ me as a part-time National Drama Advisor and my role is to provide training and development support, which includes: 

- Providing support and input at a local level to clubs through tailored workshops and rehearsal visits - there is also a menu of generic workshops that clubs can opt for if they would like to offer some development for their members but aren't sure what they need.

- Keeping members informed of any changes in legislation relating to Health and Safety or The Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG) and ensure that up to date information is available on our website.

- Creating adaptable resources and best practice information.

- Providinga timely advisory service by responding to members’ concerns or queries in connection with artistic, legislative or health & safety matters.

- Networking with the wider theatre and arts sector, and negotiate partnerships with other bodies.

- Raising the profile of the SCDA nationally and contribute to funding initiatives.

- Recommending theatre specialists who can provide specialist skills or masterclasses.

If I'm interested in joining a drama group - how can SCDA help? 
We recommend that you visit the Divisions and Districts section of the SCDA website - here you can find out which Division your local area sits within and click on that Division to find contact details that can help put you in touch with local drama groups.

You can also post a message on the SCDA Facebook Page and we can help you spread the word or get back to you with more information.

What else is SCDA working on at the moment?
SCDA has created a new and exciting opportunity in partnership with the Citizens’ Theatre in Glasgow in order to build the confidence of emerging directors, as well as enhancing the skills and knowledge of those directors with more experience.The workshops will take place over 2 intensive weekends in the Autumn of 2018.  Each participant will have the opportunity to try out skills and knowledge gained, with professional actors in a supportive environment. They will subsequently receive mentoring by the SCDA National Drama Advisor as they direct a production following the training.

Although applications are closed for this new initiative  we hope that we will learn a lot and that this will be the first of a series of Director development workshops that we will deliver in other parts of Scotland in the future.

SCDA continues to develop, create and support new opportunities, including the annual Killin Komedy Festival, created and hosted by Killin Drama Club each May, which is going from strength to strength, as well as facilitating group exchange visits, most recently between Fintry and Orkney drama group. 

SCDA has a strong focus on youth and over the next few years hopes to develop more opportunities for young people involved in amateur theatre.

How can people find out more and keep in touch?
For more information about SCDA please go to www.scda.org.uk. You can also find us on Facebook or email [email protected]k