Dudley Little Theatre
|Contact||REBECCA CLEE - firstname.lastname@example.org|
The following history was written by Mrs. Vera Dando, one of the founding members who is still active in the company today.
In 1945 a group of young people who were members of the Anglican Young People's Association at St Thomas's Church, Dudley, formed an amateur dramatic society and decided to produce the play "People in Love". However, through lack of experience they ran into difficulties and sought the help of Mr Arthur Hodgson, a local headmaster, who was an experienced actor and producer and who had been Drama Advisor to the Westmorland County Drama Committee. He trained the group in stagecraft and produced four plays - "People in Love", "Rookery Nook", "The Ghost train" and "The Rose without a Thorn" all of which proved very successful.
Following the production of "The Rose without a Thorn" in May 1947, new fire regulations were introduced which made the Parish Hall unsuitable for public performances and consequently a meeting was held to discuss the future of the Society. It was at this meeting in the summer of 1947 that the new company was formed under the title of "Dudley Little Theatre" and the first constitution was drawn up.
Fortunately, for the Company, work was in hand to convert the old Public Hall at Netherton into an Arts Centre where the former cinema would become a theatre and Dudley Little Theatre had the honour to be invited to present the post war play "Frieda" by Ronald Miller at the Civic Opening on 20th October 1947, this being directed by Mr Arthur Hodgson.
The mainstay of the Arts Theatre Program was intended to be The Midland Theatre Company (a professional touring Company) which, until 1955, attracted large audiences to Netherton during their repertory season each year. It was difficult for DLT to compete with the professionals and it was during this period that the Company found it a struggle to survive.
When Mr Hodgson resigned, Mr Noel Harrison was appointed Director of Productions and it was under his direction and with the enlarging of the Company with new members from Stourbridge and Wolverhampton that the theatre took on a new lease of life.
In 1955 the Arts Council of Great Britain decided to disband the Midland Theatre Company because of the opening of the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, and something had to be done about keeping the Arts Centre in use, so the then Libraries, Museums and Arts Committee called a meeting of all amateur theatre groups in the town and district and offered them every facility if they would use the Netherton Arts Centre for their main productions. Only Dudley Little Theatre rose to the challenge, putting on at first five and later six productions each season.
Today DLT produces four plays per season at Netherton Arts Centre, but also is involved in other events such as producing a play for Dudley Canal Trust in the underground caverns and story telling at The Black Country Living Museum for special events.