Madhatters Theatre Club


In the Community

Madhatters News, Winter 2021

The Madhatters don't just put on plays: we organise lots of social events too.
To find out more or to join please contact us.

Coming up

See our Next production for information about our next play.

Founder members

In January 2021 we are very sorry to hear of the death of Peter Fidler, founder member of the Madhatters and generous Vice President. Peter died at the grand old age of 96 after a short illness. Peter was part of the youth club at St Paul’s Church, Dollis Hill, who started a drama group that became the Madhatters Theatre Club way back in 1948. Peter met his wife Ethel at the first production and they went on supporting us generously as Vice Presidents of the Madhatters. Our thoughts are with their daughter Clare at this difficult time.

A present from Birmingham

The Madhatters Theatre Club was founded in 1948 by a group of young actors. Some of our founder members have been in touch, including Peter and Ethel Fidler, who were our first Madhatters married couple. In March 2020 sadly Ethel passed away but she remembered us in her will.

We were delighted when her daughter contacted us to say that there was a cheque in the post! Clare said that her mum always loved receiving news of the Madhatters and our shows. She even sent us this delightful Madhatters card (Charles Folkard, 1921) which she’d found in her mum’s card-making kit. Many thanks, Clare, and many thanks, Ethel.


Spring 2016
The Madhatters
60th Anniversary Daffodils
flower at Gladstone Park (above)

October 2017
Alicja, Cathy and
Adeline at Bob's flower bed,
King's Hall, after planting for the
King's Hall 70th Anniversary (right)

King's Hall anniversary

2017 will be 70 years of community groups at King's Hall and it’s something to celebrate. One idea was to plant a mass of daffodils in the King's Hall garden. With guidance from Bob, this took place early October 2016 and we look forward to a mass of fantastic flowers for spring 2017 to herald this platinum anniversary.

Thanks to the Madhatters: Cathy, Adeline, Alicja, Martin, Simon and to King's Hall: Kalpesh, with tea and cakes from Eileen and Bob. Additional thanks to Alan and the Bingo group, who let us join their tea-break.

A similar planting in Gladstone Park for the Madhatters 60th Anniversary worked really well, especially when the daffs come up every spring and remind us.

Madhatters at a curry and quiz evening organised by local musical theatre group KAOS.

Madhatters at Brent Active Citizens Awards ceremony, 19 March 2015

We are delighted that Adeline received an award from the Mayor of Brent at this ceremony. Adeline was for many years our front of house manager, looking after our team of Madhatter volunteers and our audiences – sorting out seating and providing programmes, refreshments and drinks. Adeline is now a regular actor with the Madhatters.

Valerie, who has managed events at King’s hall for many years and has run the hall for the past year, also received a volunteering award.

We were delighted also to provide the entertainment for this prestigious ceremony in front of a large invited audience, including the Mayor, Leader of Brent Council Mohamed Butt and Brent Central Labour Candidate Dawn Butler. We performed the Mock Turtle scene from our forthcoming Alice show, with singing and dancing, poetry and 'executions'.
Martin was Mock Turtle, Maria the Gryphon, Alicja the Dormouse, Cathy Queen of Hearts AND Alice. Adeline stepped in as Mad Hatter, her part in our forthcoming June production. As we were called in at the last minute, we performed with scripts, but we promise to learn our lines by June!

The audience joined in singing Soup, soup, beautiful soup and the chorus of The whiting and the snail and a good time was had by all.

Photo (above left) Adeline receives her certificate from the Mayor; (above right) Madhatters perform
Both photos © 2015 photographer Colin Patterson for Brent Active Citizens

Volunteers honoured at City Hall, 19 January 2015

We are very proud that Martin, our long-standing chairman and publicity officer, has been honoured by the Mayor of London for his 20 years of excellent service. Photo (left) Martin with the Mayor 2015 photographer Kois Miah).

Martin was one of just six volunteers from Brent and Harrow so honoured. He was also able to invite family, friends and Madhatters to a splendid party in the Mayor’s Living Room in the Thames-side City Hall and a good time was had by all. Martin has written to The Mayor to thank him for the award and to invite him to book tickets for our next show at King’s Hall.

Christmas with the Madhatters

We went carol singing in Dollis Hill and raised lots of donations for 'Save the Children'.

Many thanks to 'United Food Stores' and John of 'John’s Greengrocers' for letting us sing in front of their shops. Contributions from their customers and passers-by were very welcome.

Photo (right): The Santa hats surely helped put a Christmas smile on everyone’s face!

King’s Hall Variety Show 6 December 2014
The Madhatters not only took part in this popular annual event – we organised it! Cathy asked lots of the King’s Hall groups to prepare a turn, and organised the box office and technical team. Martin and Maggie compered. We opened the Show and welcomed the audience back after the interval.  Madhatters performed scenes from 'The Old Lady Shows Her Medals'. Maggie sang solo songs. She also led the Madhatters singing and encouraged the audience to singalong to WWI songs. Madhatters included Adeline, Gillian, Jennifer, Marilyn, Mary and Tom. Madhatters also performed with other King's Hall groups’: Gillian and Mary danced elegantly and energetically with Arlene’s Zumba group. Tom tinkled the ivories in accompaniment to the songs and carols. Valerie from the King's Hall organised the front of house refreshments and stalls. Her mulled wine and mince pies helped the Show along with lots of Christmas cheer!


Madhatters Tea Party, Elmwood Residents Association
Holland Road NW10
7th September 2014

An enthusiastic crowd of local residents came out in the sun for a grand street party.Top of the bill was the Madhatters Tea party in the middle of the road with the table perched on top of a speed hump.

The classic Lewis Carroll tale was acted with great gusto by Madhatters members: Martin as the Mad Hatter, resplendent in 10/6p Top Hat, sparring with the mad March Hare, played by Kay


Gillian as a permanently beaming Cheshire Cat and Sheila as the environmentally friendly caterpillar. Chris curled up and slept on the table as the dormouse through most of the proceedings, but gave a magnificent upbeat description of the three mice in the treacle well. Jen ran in and out as the white rabbit, always worrying about being late before perching
amongst the children thronging the stage.

Guest appearances were provided by community members: Juliet as a really scary 'off with their heads' Queen of Hearts, who brought her own retinue all dressed in regal red and, most importantly, the star of the show was Edie as an eleven year old Alice.

The afternoon was completed with a stirring rendition of 'Jabberwocky' by the caterpillar with assistance from the Hatter.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and we felt a real welcome from the Kensal Rise community and Cllr Kana Neheerathan, Mayor of Brent, who watched with great pleasure. It demonstrated what the Madhatters do best, making people happy and giving them a good laugh during the celebration.

Report by: Martin Redston


We were very honoured that long standing member Michael received an award from Brent Active Citizens to celebrate his many years of hard work with the Madhatters.

Michael has been a member for 20 years and is very popular with our audiences for his acting, singing and harmonica playing. He is always first to learn his lines and works hard back stage too, building and dismantling sets and selling tickets. A big crowd of Madhatters supported him as he was honoured by the new Mayor of Brent.

Photo (right) of Michael receiving his certificate from the Mayor
of Brent.

Brent Active Citizens
York House, Empire Way, Wembley, Middlesex. HA9 0PA



The Big Challenge at St Mungo’s - September 2012

This summer we have been working with local teenagers from the The Challenge, an organisation that gets young people involved with community groups.

Our group chose drama and joined the Madhatters at St Mungo’s where they put on an afternoon of improvised sketches and songs on the theme of 'work'. Our very own Michael joined them to sing songs on the theme, with his own harmonica accompaniment. Like all the best drama, the sketches were based on experience and we sparked ideas by exchanging personal stories about work.

The sketches were hilarious and featured:
• a nasty boss who fired all his staff and then found he had to do his own work
• a robber called Rob U who ended up locked in a stationary cupboard with his victims; he got his come-uppance when the stationary fell on his head and knocked him out
• a 1960s pub where the landlord tried to keep his lady staff washing dishes and the drinkers leered at the ladies. One of the lecherous drinkers was played by a girl, which made it even funnier
• the bitchiest perfume sales assistants ever!

Many thanks to Brent Big Challenge group Kubra, Bhumi, Stephanie, Sunny, Fereshta, Priya, Delaney, Rochell, Adam and Omar, as well as mentor Natasha and co-ordinator Simon. Thank you also to Martin for lending props and costumes, Cathy and Sue for laying on lunch and teas for 34 and everyone who came along to support us. We have greatly enjoyed working with teenagers from the Big Challenge and look forward to doing so again next year.

We put on a 2012 festival of Irish music, dance and drama at the Corrib Rest in Queens Park. Everyone enjoyed a good lunch afterwards, freshly cooked by the excellent staff at the Corrib Rest. Many thanks to the Government of Ireland for their generous grant which made this festival possible.


We performed again for St Mungo’s Pound Lane a week later, again free but this time with tea and chocolate biscuits.
11 residents came to watch the fun and joined in the singing with gusto. St Mungo’s resident Courtney sang a solo and told an excellent joke.


We were very honoured that our chair, Martin, received an award from Brent Active Citizens to celebrate his many years of hard work with the Madhatters.

Photo (right) of Martin receiving his certificating from the Mayor of Brent.

Brent Active Citizens
York House, Empire Way, Wembley, Middlesex. HA9 0PA


In the community

We put on an evening of carols and mince pies at St Mungo's in December. We also arranged an evening of comedy and music for residents and with residents in August. See our Recent productions for information about how this went.

We all joined in the Fun Day in Gladstone Park in June. We had a stall publicising our group, conveniently next to the drama stage, so we could watch performances of Alice in Wonderland and Mark Twain in Dollis Hill.

(Left: 2010 - Mark Twain - Right: 2009 - Gladstone!) 

More about Gladstone

2009 was a big year for anniversaries: 250 years since the birth of Robbie Burns, 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin and 200 years since the birth of William Ewart Gladstone, four times prime minister of Great Britain, finally stepping down at the grand old age of 85, in 1894.

Gladstone’s anniversary has a special significance for people in Brent as the Grand Old Man (GOM) spent so much of his later life staying in Dollis Hill House, the home of his friend and foreign secretary the Earl of Aberdeen. The grounds of this house are named Gladstone Park in his honour; the local phone code, 452, is of course GLA; and Hawarden Hill, the flats opposite, are named after his family home near Chester, Hawarden Hall.

Gladstone Park is 70 acres of playground, grass and trees, with the stables of Dollis Hill House now the Stables Arts Centre. At weekends, Gladstone and his beloved wife Catherine regularly drove out to the rural retreat of Dollis Hill House, to get away from the stress and strains of Downing Street. Here Gladstone picked strawberries and rose buds from the walled garden. He slept under the trees in a hammock and bathed in the pond. He served sandwiches and tea to the haymakers and sang hymns with Catherine. On Sunday mornings they drove to St Mary’s Church in Willesden and thousands of people turned out to cheer him. Sometimes the crowds were so large that the couple went instead to St Andrew’s Church in Kingsbury.

Brent Arts Council wished to celebrate Gladstone’s 200th birthday, especially as we are based at the Stables at the top of Gladstone Park, the former grounds of Dollis Hill House. The play was about Gladstone’s life and times in Gladstone Park. This production was the only play in the country celebrating Gladstone’s 200th anniversary. It was the latest Brent Arts Council summer play in Gladstone Park – we staged Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2006, Peer Gynt in 2007 and Treasure Island in 2008 – all free and well attended, despite the odd summer shower. We were very fortunate in having a generous grant from the Awards for All Lottery Fund for this project. This meant that we could afford Victorian costumes, a professional director and professional actors, working with local actors young and old. The play was written especially for us by Amy Bonsall and Michael Redston, who wrote last year’s very popular Treasure Island.

The Madhatters Theatre Club is a registered charity (Registered charity No. 1095317)
and is affliated to the Brent Arts Council
© 2021 Madhatters Theatre Club