July: First performance of ‘The Bishop’s Candlesticks’ by Norman McKinnell and ‘Pot Luck’ by Gertrude Jennings in an upstairs room at the corner of Leazes Park Road and Percy Street. The name is ‘The Clarion Dramatic Club’, the takings are 14/6.
Norman Veitch, one of the founders, set the sights high: ‘If we’re going to murder plays, let’s murder the best.’ Ever since, the policy has been to seek out and present on Tyneside plays of quality and interest which, often, the audience might not otherwise have the chance to see.
September: G.B. Shaw ‘s ’The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet’ is banned by the Lord Chamberlain but performed by the People’s.
The theatre moves to premises in the old Royal Arcade and remained fully active throughout the first World War. Opening play is Galsworthy’s ‘The Eldest Son’.
The Phoenix is born.
The phoenix became our emblum after the theatre relocated from the city centre to Rye Hill. This move our third since being founded in 1911 made the legendary symbol of rebirth and resurrection an appropriate one. Thereafter the phoenix became a familiar sight on our posters, programmes and stationery.
J.B.Priestley stays awhile and includes the People's in his "English Journey".
Edward II1936 Our Silver Jubilee. Bernard Shaw visits us again, to see 'Candida'. He comments that the floor is cleaner than on his previous visit. He makes his last public speech from our stage in his "English Journey".
Sybil Thorndike makes her first visit
After the Government ban, productions continued. In the 1940's we present world premieres of O'Casey's 'Cock a Doodle Dandy', 'Purple Dust' and 'Red Roses For Me' and Peter Ustinov's 'The Banbury Nose'.
The Tyneside Film Society (founded in 1934) amalgamates with the People's Theatre.
The Tyneside Music Society is founded as part of the Group.
Art Exhibitions became a regular feature of the Group's activities.
Poetry readings are added to our work and the concept is born of one building housing all our activities and being a true Arts Centre.
We are in early with first Newcastle productions of plays by John Whiting, Harold Pinter, lonesco, Beckett, John Arden, John Osborne, Ugo Betti, Fritz Hochwalder.
Peggy Ashcroft, accompanied by John Gielgud, launches our major building appeal fund.
The unfailing support of the Tyneside audience for our choice of play encourages us to purchase the Lyric Cinema, Heaton. It takes all our assets--£27,000--and we set about raising the necessary money to turn it into an Arts Centre.
The ultimate cost--all raised--proves to be £180,000 and generous donors include local authorities and business, the Arts Council, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Northern Arts and many other corporate and individual supporters.
The phoenix logo evolves to a new design.
One of our last performances at Rye Hill is our own musical version of 'Sweeney Todd' as part of the Blaydon Races Centenary Celebrations.
The new Arts Centre opens with Shaw's 'Man and Superman'.
The People's Theatre moves to its present home in Heaton.
The move proved to make the significance of the phoenix even more relevant to our story. Very shortly after we vacated our old premises at Rye Hill, the deserted building burned down. One theatre member, the actor and artist Jummy Garbutt, salvaged a few charged planks from the ruins, fashioned them into representations of the phoenix, which are still on display today at the front of the theatre.
The Young People's Theatre is founded, providing 100 youngsters with regular creative activity each Saturday, and opportunities to perform their productions before appreciative audiences.
H.R.H. Princess Alexandra visits us.
The theatre is host to the famous Kathakali Dancers. Peter Brook flies up from London to see them.
David Benedictus stays with us for six weeks and creates "Dromedary" for the first Newcastle Festival
John and Hilary Spurling come to see his play "Macrune's Guevara" which we present for the Newcastle Festival.
For our Diamond Jubilee play we return to Shaw and present "The Philanderer" to many old friends and guests from civic and business life. The Lord Mayor congratulates us on our anniversary.
The BBC makes a half-hour film about us and the narrator is former People's actor, Alan Browning, famous as a lead in "The Newcomers" and "Coronation Street".
World premiere of North Shields playwright, Tom Hadaway's 'A Quaker in Cullercoats'.
Christopher Fry gives us the first amateur rights of 'A Yard of Sun'.
'People's Lit' is founded to provide evenings of informal poetry, prose, conversation and occasional music.
Our 65th anniversary and Tony Harrison grants us the first amateur rights of his adaptation of 'The Misanthrope' - our eighth annual contribution to the Newcastle Festival.
Sid Chaplin becomes theatre President.
Studio Theatre seating 90. built at the back of the main auditorium The opening production is Shakespeare's 'Henry V'.
The main auditorium is rebuilt, removing the separate Circle to provide a single tier of 500 seats, which can be divided by moveable shutters for audiences up to 300.
The Young People's Theatre makes its first trip overseas, performing Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas in New York
After a lapse of some years a newsletter for members resumes publication under the title 'Offset'.
Our 80th Anniversary. Chris Goulding publishes 'The Story of the People's' (to date).
The Music Society celebrates 45 years of chamber music with a recital by Julian Bream.
The season is rearranged to allow the Royal Shakespeare Company to hire the theatre during their annual residency in Newcastle. This is because the Newcastle Playhouse is undergoing major refurbishment.
With the launch of a new look website and a new domain name tickets can now be reserved online which marks a first for an amateur theatre in Tyne and Wear.
Sir Ian McKellen, Patron of the Little Theatre Guild, visits the People's Theatre and spends time touring the theatre and meeting its members.
We announce plans for a major redevelopment costing £1.6m. By Christmas we have raised £500,000
The People's Theatre launches its new brand.
The Theatre goes green and introduces a new E-season brochure to be emailed to all subscribers to our mailing list.
Midsummer Night's Dream - A play for the Nation
A co production between the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and amateur companies accross the UK
17th, 18th, 21st, 24th & 26th March 2016 - Northern Stage
Following an intensive audition process and months of rehearsals the following 6 members of the People's Theatre played the Mechanicals in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream - Produced by the RSC. Our excellent amateu performers were joined on stage by professionals from the RSC including Ayesha Dharker, Lucy Ellinson, Chu Omambala & former People's Theatre member Laura Riseborough.
People's Theatre Mechanicals Cast
Pete McAndrew - Bottom, Jo Kelly - Quince, Stuart Douglas - Snout, Michael White - Flute, Gordon Russell - Snug
Creatives Chris Heckels - Director, Laura Halford-Macleod - Assistant Director
Midsummer Night's Dream - A play for the Nation. A co production between the RSC and Amateur companies accross the UK
Royal Shakespeare Theatre - Stratford upon Avon - 20th June 2016
The People's Theatre Mechanicals cast perform on stage at the home of the RSC!
Six members of the People's Theatre have the experience of a lifetime performing on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford upon Avon, joining the cast of the RSC.
The People's Theatre launches its brand new website.
The stunning new foyer is completed and opened to the public, just in time for the Panto 2016