Hall Green Little Theatre has a rich and unique history, dating back to 1950 when a group of theatre enthusiasts embarked on a bold and enterprising new project.
The vast majority of amateur dramatic groups and societies have only the use of borrowed facilities such as school and village halls for rehearsal and a venue is usually hired for performance nights. Occasionally groups are able to buy or rent a building and convert it for use as a theatre but few have embarked on the gargantuan task of building their own theatre from the ground up...
Our Theatre has a rich and unique history, dating back to 1950 when a group of theatre enthusiasts embarked on a bold and enterprising new project.
In the beginning
When the project began back in 1950 we faced enormous challenges, not least of all from the stringent building restrictions at the time which made obtaining building permits difficult to say the least. With almost non-existent building materials the dream of having our own theatre really did seem like just that - a dream! But, despite the numerous challenges and obstacles in their way the enthusiastic group of young thespians took the task head on and work began.
Plans were submitted with a sense of trepidation to the city planning department who, to their eternal credit, issued us with a building licence together with the opportunity to rent a plot of ground. The land housed a disused war-time static water tank, built with solid concrete foundations which had since its decommissioning become a refuse tip. This did not however deter the group and with their building licence proudly in hand they embarked on the mammoth task, but with one snag… due to the post-war house building at the time, they were prohibited from the use of any paid labour during the theatre's construction.
In order to raise money to begin the project, advance audience subscriptions were sold and with a grand total of £400, on All Fools Day, April 1st 1950 the first sod was turned and so began the building of the 200 seat theatre.
The problems faced were immense, but even the most seemingly insurmountable challenges were met with a sense of youthful idealism and a lot of Heath Robinson inventiveness! Twelve months and one week later, Hall Green Little Theatre presented its very first play on a temporary stage to an invited audience of somewhat incredulous civic dignitaries.
In response, the city came along with an interest free loan that allowed us to build a modest but very necessary foyer, as well as the main stage house itself. This began with the excavation of an enormous cellar, bigger in area than the actual stage and some five metres deep. During the excavation work over 800 tons of earth were removed along with huge chunks of the concrete water tank. Everything was done by hand from the digging and breaking apart of the concrete to the removal of the spoil with barrows. To complete the cellar a thick concrete floor was laid and on top a 23 metre high wall was built, straight up to height of the play house roof. There were no modern day tools such as JCBs, cranes or pneumatic drills to assist the workers at the time and we're happy to say that there were no serious accidents during the building.
Act II was undertaken in parallel with a very busy season, during which the theatre built up an artistic reputation as sound as - and considerably more polished than - its amateur brickwork. With success after success the theatre grew in reputation and in the late seventies, thanks to our "Act II" development it grew considerably in size too. This replaced the original tiny entrance hall and side wing with an impressive new foyer and lounge bar area. In addition our Signature theatre was built, providing us with a versatile studio facility.