The Malta Amateur Dramatic Club, or MADC as it is commonly known, is Malta’s longest-running theatre company.
Established in 1910, the Club’s first recorded address was the Manoel Theatre, but this soon changed to 12 South Street, Valletta. Although remaining in Valletta, the Club moved twice more, first to 86 Old Mint Street, then in 1929 to 28 South Street where the Club has its own ‘Little Theatre’. In April 1942 these premises were destroyed by one of the last bombs to fall on Valletta. After the war the Club made use of a large room within the Union Club, which was, at the time, situated in Kingsway – Valletta. In 1957 the Club made another move to its current premises in Sta. Venera - premises which originally housed the N.A.A.F.I. bakery of all the British forces in Malta.
The Club’s first production was Aladdin and His Wonderful Lampa Christmas Pantomime. This ran for 12 shows including two special performances and one gala night. Between 1911 and 1914 a total of seven other productions were performed including the musical Captain Reece of the Mantlepiece.
Then came the Great War, World War One, and it was not before 1920 that the MADC became active again. It was during this time that adverts first appeared in production programmes and various famous faces passed through the Club. Under the able guidance of Kay and Ella Warren the club flourished and put up a total of 71 productions until, in 1942 during the Second World War, it was again forced into ‘suspended animation’ or, as out of work actors would say, “it was resting”.
The ashes of war having been cleared and with life getting back to normal the MADC was again in the forefront. A very hard-working and MADC stalwart, Kay Warren revived the Club again with her production of The Chiltern Hundreds in May 1949, and one can say that the Club has never looked back since then.
It was at this time, precisely on the 19 December 1949, that the Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, accepted to become a Patron of the MADC and during her stays on the island regularly attended the Club’s productions.
1950 saw the revival of the Shakespeare production at San Anton Gardens with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. At this time the committee also decided that the Club should start accepting young Maltese talented actors as members.
With around 130 productions under her belt varying from straight plays to comedies and thrillers to musicals, the MADC launched its series of Christmas Pantomimes with Cinderella in 1978. During the 70’s the British membership slowly dwindled. Having achieved independence in 1964 and a republican status 10 years later, the government of the day had given the British forces an ultimatum and on the 31 March 1979 the last of these forces withdrew from the island.
Luckily for the Club, the Maltese membership was quite strong and they ably worked to keep up an already impressive theatrical tradition. Since then, the Club has grown from strength to strength with productions becoming more professional and ambitious as the years go by. Today such comments as “very professional”, “high standards”, “can be relied on to produce a good show” and “very good company, very good actors and various productions” have become synonymous with the MADC.