Chesham Theatre Company is a registered charity affiliated to NODA, the National Operatic & Dramatic Association founded in 1947. We have members of widely varying age, talents and experience, united by a lively interest in amateur drama.
We normally mount three productions a year, one at the Elgiva Theatre in Chesham and others at the Little Theatre by the Park and even outdoors. We also run Murder Mystery events and regularly cast members who are not in productions for these roles.
We have occasional social events, and members meet for a club night, or a play rehearsal, each Monday evening at 8pm in the Little Theatre.
We welcome new members, whether their interests be in acting, directing, backstage, technical or administrative work, or just to belong!
Meet the Committee 2016/17:
President: Stan Pretty MBE
Chairman: Peter Threadgold
Secretary: Nick Lansdowne & Eleanor Phillips (Shared role)
Treasurer: Roger Miller
Committee: Steve Cherry, Liz Glover (Publicity), Susan Toyn, Andy Hockey (Webmaster)
Co-opted: Ian Slack (Social & Murder Mysteries) & Emily Culverhouse (Town Partner liaison), Diana Robinson
Chesham Theatre Company was born in October 1947, when former members of the recently disbanded Challoner’s Amateur Dramatic Society met to discuss the formation of a new theatre club. Among those present were Challoner’s pupils Gwenda Hare (now Hudson) and Tony Kemp, who were elected to the committee at that first meeting and remain members of the club to this day. The name ‘Chesham Theatre Club’ was chosen, and the annual subscription was set at 5 shillings (25p) for ‘theatre’ (acting) members and 2 shillings and sixpence (12½p) for ‘club’ (non-acting) members.
The aims of the club were set out thus in a 1948 paper: ‘To cater for the tastes and requirements of all who are interested in any form of the theatre, both acting and companion spheres. Ultimately to establish its own little theatre with clubroom, library, etc, for the use of all members. Also, lectures, courses and social events may soon be instituted. While no permanent abode is yet available in these restricted times, it is hoped public support will give the club sufficient momentum to succeed.’
The club’s first production was Claudia by Ronald Miller, performed on Thursday 4th March 1948 in the hall at the Hivac factory in Asheridge Road, Chesham, and on 18th and 19th March at Ballinger Memorial Hall. In the early years, the club entered several one-act play festivals, and won a trophy for Box and Cox at the Letchworth Drama Festival in May 1951. The same play was later presented at the British Drama League drama week, where it was chosen to be performed at the British Medical Association HQ. In May 1952, John Tyb and the Curate was performed at Welwyn and won a trophy at Letchworth.
By June 1953, Some 24 productions had been staged and, owing to the lack of a suitable public hall in Chesham, performances were given in village halls – Ballinger, Chesham Bois, Ley Hill, Coleshill, Little Missenden, Hyde Heath, Stoke Mandeville – and at Amersham Playhouse, Chalfont Colony for Epilepsy, the Hivac Factory, and even Grendon Hall Open Prison! The situation improved with the opening of the new Chesham Cooperative Hall (right), and the club’s 25th production (described as their ‘silver jubilee production’), Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, was performed there in October 1953.
In recent years the company has typically put larger productions on at The Elgiva in Chesham (including Dad’s Army, Allo Allo, Calendar Girls and Maskerade to name a few), performed outside in the grounds of the Bury and for smaller productions and ‘Supper’ theatre we’ve utilized the fantastic facilities at The Little Theatre by the Park.
Annual Chairman’s Reports