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Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

The Living Theatre, in the old St Nicholas School Rooms, Holy Bones and Great Central Street, Leicester

Leicester Theatres

A Programme for the revue 'Five And A Bit' at the Living Theatre, Leicester in the 1960s - Courtesy David Garratt.In 1960 when Leicester had lost all its professional Theatres, due to property developer's demolitions, the City Council and the Theatre Committee helped a group of actors set up The Living Theatre in the old St Nicholas School Rooms. These were situated between Holy Bones and Great Central Street in Leicester. This was to be a temporary arrangement as the School Rooms were already due for demolition in July of the following year, for a major road development scheme.

The Theatre had an open end stage. The walls of the auditorium were painted black to enable the audience to concentrate on the stage area, and it sat 200 people.

The company of actors pooled their savings in order to set up the Living Theatre. They were led by Bill Hays, Derrick Goodwin and Brian Grellis, with Jill Gascoine, Kenneth Colley, Peter Blythe, and Ken Loach in the company. The opening production was 'Trials' by Christopher Logue.

Right - A Programme for the revue 'Five And A Bit' at the Living Theatre, Leicester in the 1960s - Courtesy David Garratt.

A Royal Court type season of plays were presented on a fortnightly basis. Among the plays presented were 'Roots,' 'Chips with Everything,' Luther', and 'The Knack'.

The demolition of the Theatre was eventually delayed, enabling the Living Theatre to continue until January 1963, when the final production was 'Billy Liar' on the 12th January 1963. Some programmes for the Living Theatre can be seen below.

A Programme for the revue 'Five And A Bit' at the Living Theatre, Leicester in the 1960s - Courtesy David Garratt.

Above - A Programme for the revue 'Five And A Bit' at the Living Theatre, Leicester in the 1960s - Courtesy David Garratt.

A Programme for the revue 'Five And A Bit' at the Living Theatre, Leicester in the 1960s - Courtesy David Garratt. A Programme for the revue 'Five And A Bit' at the Living Theatre, Leicester in the 1960s - Courtesy David Garratt.

 

Above - A Programme for the revue 'Five And A Bit' at the Living Theatre, Leicester in the 1960s - Courtesy David Garratt.

A Programme for 'Candida' at the Living Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy Dave Winter. A Programme for 'Candida' at the Living Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy Dave Winter.

 

Above - A Programme for 'Candida' at the Living Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy Dave Winter.

A Programme for 'Beauty and the Beast' at the Living Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy Dave Winter. A Programme for 'Beauty and the Beast' at the Living Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy Dave Winter.

 

Above - A Programme for 'Beauty and the Beast' at the Living Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy Dave Winter.

A Programme for 'The Taming of the Shrew' at the Living Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy Dave Winter. A Programme for 'The Taming of the Shrew' at the Living Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy Dave Winter.

 

Above - A Programme for 'The Taming of the Shrew' at the Living Theatre, Leicester - Courtesy Dave Winter.

Peter Blythe died in June 2004, and Bill Hayes died in France in 2006 aged 67 years. Derrick Goodwin went on to direct in both TV and Theatre. Ken Loach went on to directing TV and films such as 'Cathy Come Home' for TV in 1966, and the film 'Kes' in 1969. Brian Grellis continued his acting career, probably best remembered for his part as Detective Sargent Bowker in 'Z Cars'. Jill Gascoine, who now lives in Los Angeles USA, and Kenneth Colley, are both still acting.

The 'Living Theatre' was able to provide Leicester with plays for a period of 3 years until its final production of 'Billy Liar' on the 12th January 1963. Subsequently Leicester City Council built the Pheonix Theatre, but the 'Living Theatre' company did not take up residence.

The above article was written for this site by David Garratt and kindly sent in for inclusion in 2011. The article and some of its accompanying images are © David Garratt 2011. Other Images are individually credited.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

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