About Stoke on Trent Rep Theatre
The Rep Today
The theatre is a purpose built venue opened in November 1997 and situated in the heart of the Potteries. It is a Limited Company with charitable status. It is operated and staffed by volunteers and receives no annual funding or grants from National Arts bodies or the City Council. It is self-sustaining through hiring its facilities and expertise to local Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre Companies. Our programme of bookings is almost complete until June 30th 2019 and in January 2018 bookings will be opened for our 2019-2020 season. It is the home of our own amateur theatre company, The Stoke on Trent Repertory Players.
The Players company dates back to 1920, when a group of young people interested in amateur theatre came together to put on a play to raise money for charity. They hired the Empire Theatre in Longton and the production took place as a matinee performance in February 1921.
By 1923 they had begun to call themselves The Stoke-on-Trent Repertory Players. Over the next few years they put on productions in several different venues which included the Theatre Royal in Hanley and the King’s Hall in Stoke.
A Theatre of Their Own
The dearest wish among our pioneering members in the 1920s was to find a home of their own. In 1929 they were able to rent a large room on the top floor of Webberley’s Bookshop in Hanley where they set up “The Studio”, with seating for an audience of 100. The facilities were limited, the stage makeshift, but they stayed for three years.
Subsequently a golden opportunity arose in 1933 when they took out a lease on the church hall for the parish of St. Jude in Beresford Street, Shelton. Initially the agreement was for three years; The Rep bought the property outright in the early 1970’s and the company remained at this venue until the autumn of 1997.
A New Dawn
In the early 1990s The Repertory Players began to search for yet another home. The site favoured by many members was the building where it had all begun way back in 1921, The Empire Theatre in Longton. Sadly, plans to purchase this wonderful period property came to an end when the theatre was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Eve 1992. This resulted in the idea to have a new, purpose-built theatre.
In November 1997, The Rep was proud to open a brand, new 235 seat theatre in Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent. The theatre was built with the help of the Arts Council, a National Lottery grant, the support of the City Council, funds raised by the membership and the generous sponsorship of local companies.
Ninety six years on from those small beginnings The Rep is still thriving. We have a current membership of approximately 125 volunteers and we offer our patrons an annual season of five plays.
by Peter Croft (Theatre Archivist)