South Tynesiders invited to join new history group

The curtain is about to rise on a new history group dedicated to local theatre – and people from throughout South Tyneside are being urged to join.

A South Shields Gilbert & Sullivan Society's production featuring Yum-Yum, Pitti Sing and Peep-Bo.
A South Shields Gilbert & Sullivan Society's production featuring Yum-Yum, Pitti Sing and Peep-Bo.

The inaugural meeting of the Tyneside, Northumberland and Durham Theatre History Society will be held on Thursday, April 25, with organisers hoping to shine a spotlight on the area’s “under explored” stage life, both amateur and professional.

Martin Collins, archivist at the People’s Theatre and one of the Tyne Theatre & Opera House’s tour guides said: “This area has a rich theatrical history, both professional and amateur, which is under explored.

Members of South Shields Amateur Operatic Society performing The King and I in September 1987.

“The purpose of this society is to catalogue and explore this rich history, bringing to the North East and, ultimately, the world, the story of both the buildings that have been, and in many cases are still, being used as places of entertainment, and also the companies and individuals who have made use of both the grand and humble houses to entertain people.”


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Martin explained that the inaugural meeting will discuss the aims of the new society, find out what is already being done, and “allocate some areas of research for people to pursue”.

Membership of the society is open to anyone interested in theatre history, however people under the age of 16 years will require parental permission.

“We want members to gather, correlate and store digitally information and images on the past and present activities of the theatre buildings and theatrical (drama, dance, opera & musical, variety etc) companies who have entertained the people of North East England over the years.

A Westovians Theatre Society performance from the past.


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“These collections will be made available for research and general entertainment, using a regularly published newsletter, a journal of research and social media and internet. We may even produce productions of long lost Victorian and Edwardian plays,but that is an ambition for later consideration.”

The inaugural meeting will take place in the foyer of the People’s Theatre, Stephenson Road, Heaton, at 7.30pm.

If all goers to plan there will also be a monthly public meeting where the society’s ongoing work can be presented.

For more information go to [email protected] or look for the society’s Facebook page.