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We began life in 1945 as Seaford Dramatic Society, just after the end of World War II, when a group of local people, many of whom having just returned from active service, were anxious to pick up their lives again.

Arnold RidpathFor the next few years the Society lead a peripatetic life lacking any fixed base until, with a steadily increasing membership, it was decided to raise the funds to buy a permanent home.

And so, after a concerted effort by the members and some generous public donations, 1957 saw the grand opening of The Little Theatre in Steyne Road, where it has remained ever since.

Alan WorkmanFrom those early days the Theatre has continued to go from strength to strength, improving and extending it's facilities, so that today with its intimate, 95 seater auditorium, we are able to provide a wide range of productions that are well received and enjoyed by hundreds of local people. The theatre is also fitted with a hearing loop and has facilities for the disabled, including toilets.

To see a copy of the potted history of the society prepared by Penny Cockell for our Open Days to mark the 70th Anniversary in September 2015 Click Here

AWARDS

Over the years, when it has chosen to take part, the Theatre has enjoyed a number of successes in local Drama Competitions. These include:

However, although welcome, such accolades are merely a bonus to doing what we like best. For us the play is, indeed, the thing!

Seaford Little Theatre would like to express their grateful thanks to
Seaford Rotary Club

for their generous donation towards providing an emergency exit from the lighting box

Address by founder and Life President, Valerie Shepherd, at the Theatre's 50th Anniversary celebrations in 1995

Mrs Beam's ProgrammeThe Society was founded at the end of 1945, just after the end of World War II, by a handful of local young people. Many had just returned from active service and were anxious to pick up their lives again in their home town. The first play the Society presented was At Mrs Beam's. This was in November 1946 and it reached the finals of the Sussex Drama Festival.

Mrs Beam's CastFor some years we had no permanent home. We rehearsed in hired rooms and the plays, put on for only three nights, were usually presented in Clinton Hall and occasionally at the larger Queens Hall. The hire charge for either hall for one week was £20, a fair sum in those days. We put the scenery up on Monday and Tuesday, had a dress rehearsal on Wednesday and played to the public on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The membership was very small then so everyone had to be prepared to help in a variety of jobs, be it making or moving scenery, acting, or helping with costumes. Scenery was made and stored in part of a garage kindly lent by French's. Most of the work had to be done outside because there wasn't enough room in the garage, so that meant that we could only work on fine days and usually at week-ends.

Television being in its infancy, we had to make most of our own entertainment. few of us had cars, but in those days it was quite safe to walk to the theatre, even on dark winter nights. A little different from nowadays.

By 1954 our membership was growing to such an extent that it was decided to launch an appeal to raise the £1000 to buy the Christian Science Church which was on the market. Loans and gifts from a generous public made it possible for us to buy the premises which, forty years later, we still occupy.

Two years of hard work followed during which we built a new stage, painted, carpentered, repaired, converted, scraped and sanded, and all the while we were still rehearsing and putting on one, two or more plays each year in hired halls. At last in 1956 came victory and we enjoyed the bliss of building our sets and rehearsing in our own Little Theatre. The first play was Black Chiffon, but this was really just a dry run as it were, because the Theatre was only just usable. The Theatre was officially opened in 1957 when we staged Without The Prince by Philip King. The author attended the first night with many of the town's dignitaries, and so Seaford's Little Theatre was launched.

Thereafter we put on our plays for seven nights, now extended to eight nights. With the full support of the people of Seaford, then as now, after ten years we were able to pay off all our debts to those who had kindly lent us money.

During the last ten years, extensive improvements have been made to our own Theatre, including a new and very much enlarged stage, coffee room, toilets and new lighting. Thanks to the generous response of Seaford residents who support us so faithfully, more funds were raised to enable us to employ Manpower Services for the structural alterations. The fixing of fifty tip-up seats and the partial raking of the auditorium was done by hard-working members of the Society, who spent many hours on the task. Every window in the Theatre has been replaced and the roof re-tiled. Our latest acquisition is a new front porch which gives us protection from the Seaford rough weather. We have to thank Lewes District Council for their help in allowing us grants at various times which have enabled us to achieve all these improvements

To date we have done 156 productions and I look back down the years with great pride and affection at a Society that is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary and one for which I have worked from the moment of its birth nearly half a century ago.

To all members, especially the younger ones, I say this:

"The future of our Theatre is yours - look after it, work hard with dedication and enjoy the fruits of your labours - the rewards are many."

VALERIE M SHEPHERD 
President
 
November 1995

Now you know some of our history, why not take the theatre tour

 

 

 

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