AMATEURS CARRY ON STAGE
Much Fun Preparing Shows.
The Little Theatres of Sydney which originated largely for the amusement of members, now play an important part in the entertainment of the public in this city which supports only two legitimate-stage theatres.
WHILE there are schools for actors
established in Sydney, the Little
Theatres also have become an accepted training ground, and many of their members have found posts in radio work-announcing, play-acting, and executive jobs-on the professional stage, and in local and overseas films.
This has brought about a new aim in the various dramatic groups and many ambitious young players join with a view to the training they receive The public is reaping the benefit, for while it is being denied a wide selection of professional shows, it is being given by the little theatres, a variety of plays frequently running simultaneously with the London productions, and played with sincerity that compensates for the lack of finish of all- time actors, although on occasions and by no means rare ones, this too is equalled.
Glamorous Little Theatre.
THERE are some people who regret deeply
the fading glamour of the stage, and its behind-the-scenes romance but if they would recaptuie it, they should go to Beryl Bryant's
DURING rehearsal at. the Chelsea Dramatic Group. MR. PHIL MOORE
shows MISS BRESNEE BRITTAIN how to wear a monocle.
playhouse in the crypt of St Peter's Church, Darlinghurst, where Carrie Tennant had her Community Playhouse about six years ago
There is atmosphere about this tiny little licensed theatre which is approached through a dark lane, a stones throw from the William street tramline There is an attractive smell of mustiness and grease paint about the two tiny dressing-rooms, alongside the little stage, and tantalising conjecture created about the numerous oddments of props that are put into practical use when the stage is in deshabille
An Old Trooper.
IT is apparent that Miss Bryant would be
classed by all old stage hands as a trooper, and she has trained her players in the ethics of the best of them No one is a lead in her theatre Everyone serves a sort of appren- ticeship, commencing with selling programmes and ushering, and playing the well-known role of a maid carrying on a tray while the leads are in the limelight Even after they have played leads, they return to small parts, as Miss Bryant, who has eight years' experience with JC Williamson in drama and comedy parts and film work behind her, herself fre- quently does
"I commenced with a school of three pupils, and later opened the theatre for them and others," said Miss Bryant We had some very trying experiences in the beginning, and I can remember one night playing to an audience of three One woman giggled hysterically through-
out the play
"The other two were Press," she added with- out malice "We were exhausted at the end
of the show "
The playhouse is now proud of its sloping seating and its excellent stage lighting, in- stalled and worked by members After five years it is feeling growing pains badly, and Miss Bryant hopes to lease the church hall overhead, and run it in conjunction with the tiny theatre below
An important person associated with the playhouse is Miss Bryant's husband, Mr A. E Mayor, who is the rat-catcher in chief, and has several scalps to his credit, resulting from an every-day search
A Butter Box Stage
ANOTHER enterprising band of players with a membership of about 80 is the Chelsea Theatre Group, a branch of the members of the Chelsea Club, established by Miss Gwen Meredith five years ago In Miss Meredith's own words, the first one-act play produced was most regrettably unprofessional, but since then the group has put on some
creditable shows at The Savoy and at studio evenings in the club A years work now amounts to five three-act plays and 40 one-act plays, and these include Australian plays and plays written and pro duced by members in competition
Members recall amusing incidents in the early days of studio productions when they played on a member-made stage of butter boxes They still enjoy all the fun of make- shift and give up Sundays and evenings to rehearsals, keeping appetites at bay with bags of meat pies Ardent rehearsalists have, on occasions, caused great alarm in the building when caretakers and tenants have rushed to a scene ol supposed tragedy only to find Chelsea playeis in concentrated groups re- hearsing in the empty stairways during the
The Oldest Little Theatre.
SYDNEY'S oldest Little Theatre is the
Sydney Players Club which commenced as
the outcome of the disbanding of some mem- bers of Gregan McMahon's old Sydney Repertory Theatre, and was first directed by Mr W F Jackson Mr S R Irving and Mr Winchester Ford were two of its foundation members Miss Alice Gould who was secre- tary for many years, is the present director
This group of players, which has a mem- bership of 350, has given Sydney some out- standing plays, admirably performed and pro- duced, including "Adam the Creator," "Bread," "Tobias and the Angel," "Jonah and the Whale," and "She Passed Through Lorraine." "Bread" caused a sensation, and in it Sydney was introduced to block settings. The Players Club also introduced curtain settings and projection backgrounds.
Prominent players in the club are Doris State and Beatrice Wines. Kathleen Robinson and Alathea Siddons were Players' Club players, and Shirley Ann Richards first re- ceived notice with them in a small part she played in "Haunted Houses." Many mem- bers have gone into broadcasting.
The next public presentation will be "Half Way to Paradise," a short three-act play, by Nor.? John Kelly, and "The Spirit Host," a long one-act play, by Edith Sterling-Levis, both Australians, at the Savoy on April 10, 17. and 24.
The IndependentI Theatre.
A group of playeris of which Sydney has
reason to be very proud is Doris Fitton's Independent Theatre, with clubrooms at 112 King-street, and showing regular seasons at the Savoy.
When Doris Fitton, after professional ex- perience in London, first produced and played in "By Candlelight" with Richard Parry (now on the professional stage in London), Clarence Murphy, and Freda McGhee in other lead ing roles at St. James Hall, theatregoers had an inkling that she was going to contribute largely to the gap caused by the withdrawal of first one legitimate theatre and then an- other. The prophecy was correct, and under Miss Fitton's direction the theatre has put on some of the world's best plays.
Apt Selection of Plays. .
MUCH of the theatre's success can be
attributed to Miss Fitton's apt selection of plays. In choosing the best plays her astute sense leads her to the choice'of those which will appeal to every section of the community, and she puts them on when they are still in the news and in the public's demand. "Lady Precious Stream," which she produced simul- taneously with the London production, and "The Constant Nymph," which she played for a season at the Palace Theatre, under the auspices of J. C. Williamson, were two out- standing examples of giving the public what it wanted. Miss Fitton has even achieved success in serving Shakespeare to a public palate.