70 years ago today…

Saturday 3rd May 1952 was closing night of Keighley Little Theatre’s production of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde. It starred Eric B. Broster, Ken Everett, David Brown, Morag C. Moorhouse, Norma Feather, Joyce Reeder, Ray Dewsnap, George Scull and John Harker, and was produced by Eric B. Broster. At this point the President of the Theatre Group was Keighley Mayor, Councillor David C. Hudson.

Keighley Little Theatre was formed in June 1947 when Frederic W. Pye got together with seven like-minded people in a house in Oakworth and discussed the viability of forming a small amateur company to stage plays. The Theatre Group included Doreen Mary Hillary (known as Mary) who acted and was involved in productions for over three decades, and Eric B. Broster, who went on to direct many of their plays.

In the early months of 1949, the Theatre Group was offered the lease on the premises in Devonshire Street that became home to the amateur theatre company. Those premises were Devonshire Hall, originally part of the Liberal Club on Scott Street, which had been erected at the very end of the nineteenth century. Devonshire Hall had been used for lectures, functions, dances and so on (and continued to be for hire through Keighley Little Theatre). Having been looking for a permanent home, the lease was taken up. A stage and proscenium had to be built with an appropriate new lighting rig. The theatre remains the home of the Theatre Group to this day. In 1969, Keighley Little Theatre re-branded as Keighley Playhouse.

Keighley Playhouse with pages from the programme for ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, staged in 1952. The original programme was donated by Tim Neal in 2020. The photograph of the Playhouse was taken by Andy Wade in 2012.

Author: Admin Tim

Tim is a committee member of the Keighley and District Local History Society, with responsibilities for archiving the physical and digital collections, and managing some of the social media channels. He moved to Keighley about ten years ago and joined the Society to learn more about the area.

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