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The Little Theatre, Dover Street, Leicester

Leicester Theatres

The side and rear elevation, and fly tower, of the Little Theatre, Leicester in 2011 - Courtesy David Garratt

Above - The side and rear elevation, and fly tower, of the Little Theatre, Leicester in 2011 - Courtesy David Garratt

The Little Theatre is situated in Dover Street, Leicester, and is the home of Leicester Drama Society. The Theatre is a former Reckabite Chapel, which has been greatly altered and extended over the years, and possesses a small grave yard, left over from its Chapel days.

It is a proscenium Theatre with its main auditorium situated upstairs, consisting of stalls seats only, there being no circle or balcony. To the rear of the auditorium is a lighting and sound control box. The proscenium stage has an apron fore-stage with entrances both left and right. This apron stage can be lifted out in sections to reveal space for an orchestra. The Theatre seats 349 people, and has an additional studio space on the ground floor for performances and workshops. It has a bright and cheerful foyer and separate bar area, plus a lift for patrons to access the upstairs auditorium. There are rehearsal spaces and a library for members. The stage house features a fly tower with hemp lines, paint shop and scenery store, together with a mezzanine area underneath the stage for trapdoor entrances etc. Backstage there are dressing rooms and a costume making workshop.

A selection of past programmes for the Little Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt

Above - A selection of past programmes for the Little Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy David Garratt

The Theatre is entirely amateur apart from the Theatre Manager, and Scenic artist. It produces approximately 12 in house productions a year entirely from scratch, holding auditions for each play cast from members, who then rehearse intensely for approximately six weeks before performance week. It makes its own scenery, costumes and props for each play. Every Christmas a Pantomime is staged for which the Theatre is famed, quickly selling out. It is also home to Leicester's many local Amateur Operatic companies, who hire the Theatre for their performance week. The Theatre also hosts one night performances from stars of stage and screen, and plays host to the Leicester Comedy Festival each February. It has a large costume hire department, and also runs a youth group.

The first production was 'Hassan' by James Elroy Flecker, and the Theatre is now approaching its 1,000th production.

The Little Theatre suffered a fire in the mid fifties started by vandals who got onto the stage destroying the stage area. This resulted in a new and improved stage house being built.

Leicester playwright Joe Orton and Sir Richard Attenborough are both past members of Leicester Drama Society.

Leicester Drama Society have kept the flame of drama burning in Leicester for many years, particularly when the city had demolished all its professional Theatres and would have been completely culture-less if not for their productions.

You may like to visit the Theatre's own website here.

The above article was written for this site by David Garratt and kindly sent in for inclusion in 2011. The article and its accompanying images are © David Garratt 2011.

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