History of BATS - the British American Theatrical Society

The inception of BATS took place on 4th March 1956, when English speaking members of the Cercle Laetitia Company (CLC) decided to form their own company with the express purpose of performiong British and American plays in the English language.

In order to raise the necessary funds, members would 'tour' the local bars and cafes delighting mainly Flemish audiences with impromptu sketches and singing. Within seven weeks of BATS being formed their first play, Murder Without Crime by J. Lee Thomson, was performed on 28th April. It was apparently performed in the auditorium of the, now defunct, General Motors building on the Noorderlaan.

In the early days BATS productions were performed for one night only, with the exception of the annual panto, which usually had three performances. The panto first appeared at the end of 1958 and were very often written by club members; Philip King being the most prolific writer of that decade with four shows to his name. On the directing front, Vic Hewitt, Bill Wright, David Henderson, Norie Humphries and John Lewis were noticeably prominent, and the directing debuts of two current, long-standing members were made - Jo Royen taking charge of "We Must Kill Toni" by Ian Stuart Black in February 1960, and Paul Roche with "Out of the Crocodile" by Giles Cooper in October 1965.

Zena Waters