Masque Theatre History
Since 1951, the drama group had been performing in its own little theatre on Thenford Street. The Masque Theatre, as it was known, gave the group a base to hold meetings and social gatherings as well as perform plays. The group had even changed its name from Northampton Drama Club to Masque Theatre to avoid confusion. But all that was to end in 1974.
The landlord of the Thenford Street premises, who ran an invalid carriage repair business on the ground floor, decided that he needed the whole building. Masque Theatre was given notice to quit. The last performance was, appropriately enough, All Over by Edward Albee.
But where should Masque perform now? After some panic, a temporary solution was found when Jessie Knight of the Arts Theatre Club offered use of their premises in nearby Pytchley Street. The theatre was a similar size to the old one on Thenford Street.
Henry Telfer Ltd of Moulton Park offered the use of their staff coffee lounge for rehearsals and Masque rented a house in Military Road for storage and the wardrobe. Unfortunately, the house proved to be damp and, for some years, the costumes were dispersed and stored in members’ houses.
The open air summer shows continued to be performed in the Courtyard of Abington Park Museum but only plays by William Shakespeare are programmed. The last non-Shakespeare open-air play was The Recruiting Officer in 1965.
The 1970s is, of course, notorious for flares, kipper ties and platform heels - and that’s just the men.
It was also the decade of the Vietnam War, the Oil Crisis and the Iranian Revolution.
As a ‘New Town’, Northampton expanded greatly during the 1970s. First to be constructed was the Eastern District, housing families from the London area. The Weston Favell Shopping Centre opened in 1974 and the Grosvenor Shopping Centre the following year.
During the 1970s, a youth theatre was run by Joan Fisher with some youth theatre productions directed by Dennis Phillips. A number of members were still active in Masque 40 years later.
In 1979, The School For Wives by Moliere, directed by Margaret Dickens, was put on at the Spinney Hill Hall and subsequently toured in the United States.
The last production at the Arts Theatre Club was in 1979 after which productions were performed in Northampton College’s studio theatre on Booth Lane, with occasional excursions to the Lings Theatre.
147 1970 Waltz of the Toreadors by Jean Anouilh
148 1970 Hay Fever by Noel Coward
149 1970 All’s Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare
150 1970 What the Butler Saw by Joe Orton
151 1970 Play With A Tiger by Doris Lessing
152 1971 Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov
153 1971 The First Born by Christopher Fry
154 1971 Meanwhile, Back at the Monastery by various writers
155 1971 The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
156 1971 The Anniversary by Bill MacIlwraith
157 1971 The Ticket of Leave Man by Tom Taylor
158 1972 Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
159 1972 Three Months Gone by Donald Howarth
160 1972 Lovers (Winners & Losers) by Brian Friel
161 1972 Dark of the Moon by H. Richardson and W. Berney
162 1972 As You Like It by William Shakespeare
163 1972 Happy Family by Giles Cooper
164 1972 A Day in the Death of Joe Egg by Peter Nichols
165 1973 The Times by Arthur Wing Pinero
166 1973 The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard
167 1973 A Collier’s Friday Night by D.H. Lawrence
168 1973 Music Hall
169 1973 The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
170 1973 Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon
171 1973 Zoo Zoo Widdershins Zoo by K.B. Laffan
172 1973 The Ghost Train by Arnold Ridley
173 1974 Forget Me Not Lane by Peter Nichols
174 1974 The Country Wife by William Wycherley
175 1974 King John by William Shakespeare
176 1974 The Gazebo by Alec Coppel
177 1974 All Over by Edward Albee
178 1975 I Am a Camera by John Van Drutcn
179 1975 Getting On by Alan Bennett
180 1975 Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
181 1975 Angels in Love by Hugh Mills
182 1975 Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw
183 1976 Tango by Slavomir Mrozek
184 1976 The Killing of Sister George by Frank Marcus
185 1976 Henry V by William Shakespeare
186 1976 Dirty Dick
187 1976 Alison’s Royalty Reading
188 1976 Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall
189 1977 In Good King Charles Golden Days by George Bernard Shaw
190 1977 Roots by Arnold Wesker
191 1977 Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
192 1977 The Magistrate by Arthur Wing Pinero
193 1977 Collapse of the Stout Party by Trevor Peacock
194 1978 Candida by George Bernard Shaw
195 1978 Mary Mary by Jean Kerr
196 1978 Othello by William Shakespeare
197 1978 Mixed Doubles by various writers
198 1978 Night Must Fall by Emlyn Williams
199 1979 Bingo by Edward Bond
200 1979 The School for Wives by Moliere
201 1979 Macbeth by William Shakespeare
202 1979 Bus Stop by William Inge
203 1979 The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932
Registered Charity No. 294848
This information is adapted from the history researched and written by John and Greta Hendy with Alison Dunmore; edited and conceived by Rob Kendall and published in 2000. New material has been compiled and written by Martin Borley-Cox.
Page last updated: 23/02/2015 Masque Theatre © 2015
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