THE OBJECTIVES OF NEW PLYMOUTH LITTLE THEATRE SOCIETY INC. ARE:
- To promote, encourage and foster excellence in the production, performance, reading, study and writing of theatrical works for the edification and benefit of the community.
- To promote and encourage the contribution of the community to the production performance, reading, study and writing of theatrical works for the benefit of the community as a whole.
- To Foster an appreciation of artistic theatrical works for the enhancement development and benefit of the community.
HISTORY OF LITTLE THEATRE
With over 85 years of life and experience under its belt, New Plymouth Little Theatre has a lot of history. If you have anything you would like to add to this section, please email it to us so that we can put your little bit of history up on our site for all to enjoy! Thanks to life members Bill Tate and the members of NPLT for a lot the historic information on our site.
NEW PLYMOUTH’S LITTLE THEATRE IS ONE OF THE OLDEST DRAMATIC SOCIETIES IN NEW ZEALAND.
Back in 1933, a drama group was formed with the help of the YWCA and YMCA. It was intended to help provide more entertainment for young people in New Plymouth.
An enthusiastic group was soon meeting regularly for play readings and six months later the New Plymouth Little Theatre Players began plans for the first production. A capacity audience saw two one-act plays – Mollie and the Milliner by M.Stayton and Poached Eggs and Pearls by G.M.Jennings.
Both were produced by Mac Robertson in the YWCA Hall in Powderham St on July 25, 1933. The following year the group moved to the larger venue of St Mary’s Hall where three one act plays and play readings continued, quickly establishing the progressive attitude still prevalent today.
In 1935 Little Theatre Players attempted their first full length play The Roundabout by J.B.Priestley and produced by John Ledgerwood.
Productions stopped from 1940 – 1944 because of World War II and the fact the were very few male members left. After having moved to premises in St Aubyn St, the group had to vacate the building because it was needed for the war effort. The new venue was found in Petty Lane (behind Corrigals) and play readings continued, troops were entertained and funds raised for patriotic purposes.
In the mid-1940s the group had become an incorporated society and was known as New Plymouth Little Theatre Society, the title it still has today. By 1953 the society had a considerable building fund and decided to look for a permanent home. The present theatre, then P.Kristlanson and Son’s furniture factory, was purchased in time for the 21st jubilee. Extensive alterations were required and under the leadership of Evie Atkinson, society members began the task of turning the factory into a theatre. Twelve months later the Aubrey St Theatre was officially opened by the society’s patron Joe Sheat.
With a temporary stage, patch-work curtain and basic footlights, Little Theatre began operating from its home base. Since then improvements and maintenance have continued as well as a host of professional and well received productions. The Society is proud of traditions begun back in the early days of its existence. During the years the membership grew to a maximum of 300 adult members and 90 juniors.
Other changes have been initiated to cater for the comfort and convenience of patrons in a variety of ways. In 1980 Brian Hannam returned from Hamilton to direct Kennedy’s Children, the Theatre Restaurant began. Extra attractions have included special suppers, wine and cheese evenings, cocktail nights and since the change of the licensing laws, bar facilities for every production. During the years, Little Theatre has maintained a presence in the city as a vehicle for local artists to display their talent and make a valuable contribution to the culture of New Plymouth.
The Society knows this will continue for a long time to come.