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ISSUE 13 CONTENTS
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Nothing daunted The Little Theatre - they tackled a heavy Russian drama "A Government Inspector" in 1927. Looking remarkably cheerful about it are, back row left to right, E. B. Gibson, George Mitchell, Wilfred Hellowell, Thomas Stansfield and Hector MacRae; middle row, Bertha Greenwood, Dorothy Sowden, Annie Lingard, Audrey Crabtree, Grace Ashworth, Edna Hill and Winifred Halstead; front row, Arthur Sutcliffe, Stanley, James and Edna Greenwood, Percival Sowden, Emily Moss, Clifford Sutcliffe, Frederick Pickles and Allan Moss. Front sitting cross-legged, Willie Hill and Harry Greenwood.
Opening the HBLSS’ 75th anniversary celebrations in 1980, society stalwart Mr G.T.E. Gibson recalled the early days of The Little Theatre:
In 1924 the Dramatic Section of the Society was formed and a play, “The Walls of Jericho,” performed at the Co-operative Hall. This venture into the world of live theatre was appreciated and the following year “His House in Order” was produced.
The popularity of these annual plays was such that a larger hall was required and for two or three years they were staged in the Picture House. Some one-act plays were also given.
Then the opportunity arose to form a Little Theatre, the plays to be private and staged for invited audiences only. This method of presentation had many advantages, not least exemption from the payment of Entertainment Tax. The venue for the new venture was the Band Pavilion, a wooden structure near the site of the present municipal bowling green.
If heavy rain or a hailstorm occurred during a performance the actors had the utmost difficulty in making themselves heard. Those early days in the band room were stimulating, exciting and unforgettable. Everything had to be improvised and as there was no stage, one had to be constructed the weekend before each production.
The people of Hebden Bridge gave wonderful support to the Little Theatre and after a relatively short sojourn at the band room accommodation was acquired at the Trades Club, when a permanent stage and raked auditorium were constructed.
Note: Throughout its long association with the HBLSS the Little Theatre established a reputation for plays of the highest standard, overcoming many obstacles not least of which was the need for a permanent home. This was not achieved until 1948 when land next to the Trades Club, Holme Street, was purchased and a new theatre built on the site of Denroy’s Garage. This was replaced by the present structure in 1993.
Read the full story in Milltown Memories, issue 13. If this or other stories stirs a memory, we'd be happy to know - send us your memories and comments.