Droylsden Little Theatre
One thing you’ll notice about Droylsden Little Theatre, is that time never stands still! As you may know, the summer of 2004 saw a complete overhaul of the auditorium with a new stage, new carpeting, a rejuvanated lighting system, and best of all… new seats. Then in the summer of 2005 year we turned our attentions to the bar, resulting in a welcoming, contemporary theatre to be proud of. When you come to the theatre you may notice the stylish sign bearing ‘Johnson’s’ behind the bar. Why did they call it that you may ask? Well, the bar area was dedicated to an old and trusted member who passed away and left his favourite theatre a large sum of money, thus making this project possible. So the next time you’re there, raise a glass!
It doesn’t end there!
Thanks to a grant gratefully received from The Fairshare Trust, our little theatre has been undergoing a mighty makeover! In fact, if you haven’t been for a while, you may think you’ve walked into the wrong building! The latest project was the large extension on the side of the theatre which is now accommodating brand spanking new dressing rooms to give our actors the true feeling of stardom! The bar is in the process of being extended further to make social events more pleasant than ever without losing that intimate, friendly feeling that occupies DLT. The whole place is looking stylish and the well thought out design incorporates well needed storage space for props and furniture, following the sale of number one building. Well done to our Buildings Manager Steve Hyde who project managed the task and all members who have put much needed time and effort into this exciting project.
Of course the primary purpose of DLT is to perform plays! It’s what we do best, we even have awards to prove it! Everyone is important here from actors and set designers to backstage and front of house staff’ and we work as a team to produce plays that would give professionals a run for their money. Of course the difference is that all the work done here is for the pure love and passion for it. We are a registered charity and so everything is done on a voluntary basis.
We perform six plays per season and to finish it all off with a bang, we usually hold a variety show with songs and dances from the musicals and hilarious sketches to boot! So as you can see there really is something for everyone here.
In order to make sure everything runs smoothly, we have our management committee to make those tough decisions. Our team do a great job in ensuring we have- a wonderful balance of plays each season, a pleasant environment for audience and members alike, plenty of informed members, an audience for each play and a smooth running production and technical team! As you can see there’s a great deal involved in the process, so hats off to the committee!
We mustn’t forget our social events! We have a dedicated committee set up especially to organise member and non member events from murder mystery evenings to brass bands and alternative award nights! Keep your eyes peeled for details on these events and don’t miss out!
The History of Our Society
In 1929 a group of senior members of the choir of St. Cross Church, Clayton, discussed the formation of a Dramatic Society. They had already been members of a Minstrel troupe organised by a Mr. Johnson, the Headmaster of St.Cross School, which had disbanded and were looking for a replacement. The first difficulty was finding a Producer. One of the committee had a friend who was a member of Altrincham Garrick Theatre, and the result was that Mr. Lloyd Birch, the Treasurer at the Garrick, agreed to help. In fact, he became the permanent producer for many years.
The first play, ‘Uncle Ned’, was presented at the old Rowsley Street Co-Op in 1931. Rehearsals were held in an upstairs room at the Church Inn on Clayton Lane, by courtesy of the landlady, Miss Alice Bromley, who was also the organist at St. Cross.
In the mid 1930’s an alternative venue was found at the Congregational Church on Seymour Road. At this stage a number of Variety Shows had to be produced in order to fund the ‘straight’ plays (sounds familiar!). Then came the war: the society ran shows to entertain the forces, but naturally membership was depleted due to members being ‘called up’. After the war, the Society made a permanent home at the Scouts’ Hall on Seymour Road, where tickets were 6d. (that’s 2 and 1/2 pence!). During our residence here, the stage sets were built at the Butterworths Factory on Pollard Street, as the Managing Director Mr. E. Stansfield, was also the Society’s President.
Subsequently, the Old Coffee House, over the Midland bank near Grey Mare Lane was rented. During our stay here plays ran for 2 weeks, and admission prices went up to 2/- (that’s 10p). A substanstial amount of money was raised by voluntary subscription, to finance the building of a Green Room and toilets. The opening play was ‘Robert’s Wife’ , and during the play’s run 1,770 patrons saw the show. The demand for tickets exceeded supply for each of the six shows each year.
In 1960, Mr. Hampson, a local butcher, donated a silver cup to be awarded each year for outstanding service to the Society. Meanwhile, the Midland Bank gave the Society notice to quit the residency of the Old Coffee House. Shows continued at the Trinity Methodist Church Hall, at the corner of Craven Street and Manchester Road in Droylsden.
At this time, a chance came to buy a disused Methodist Church near Medlock Street.The complex was purchased on mortgage, and is to this day Droylsden Little Theatre’s home. The main No.1 building was to become the Theatre, whilst a Studio Theatre was going to be established in building No.2: this never happened and 40 years later our Theatre is still in No.2!