Lord Baden-Powell said that his Headmaster at Charterhouse School “Looked upon play acting as a useful means of education… and so he encouraged, in fact almost ordered theatricals among us”. Later, Baden-Powell credited his acting at Charterhouse to his success in life (From “Two Lives of a Hero”).
Moving on a few years:-
The year: 1932
The place: The Scala Theatre in London
The event: “The London Gang Show”
And so it all began
The concept of Gang Show grew from a simple beginning of raising funds for a swimming pool for a London Scout Camp, to three Royal Variety Shows, to becoming a part of Scout and Guide training schemes worldwide.
Baden-Powell asked the well known Broadway director Ralph Reader to produce a theatre based activity. Ralph at this time was a Rover Scout with the Holborn Rovers and for many years the actual writer of the shows was only known as a “Holborn Rover”. The phenomenon soon spread to other areas of Britain and then overseas. At this time all shows used Ralph’s material and was very “British” in its message.
In New Zealand the first show was in Christchurch in 1956 and over the next few years many other shows began. Originaly Groups put on their own Gang Show and this is what happened in Hamilton with the Chartwell Scout Group in 1972 and 1973.
All current New Zealand Shows are region based such a Manuwatu or Hutt Valley in Wellington. Auckland has two Gang Shows: Auckland Central and North Shore.
The current Waikato Show, which began in 2005, is similar in taking its catchment area from the two Waikato Zones although we will take members from other Zones.
Nowadays a lot of Ralph’s material is not ‘PC’ but can be adapted for use. Some of his many songs are Gang Show classics including ‘Crest of a Wave,’which was first sung in the 1934 Show. Most Gang Shows now write their own material, songs, skits, scripts and use commercial songs.