Historic city amateur theatre company takes final bow

The cast of New Lamps For Old, 2003.

The Great Hall Theatre Company cast of New Lamps For Old, 2003. - Credit: Great Hall Theatre Company

One of the best-loved amateur theatre companies of Norwich has pulled down the curtain, or in their case taken apart their sets for the last year…and that is very sad.

Over the last 60 glorious years, the Great Hall Theatre Company has entertained us so well and has been a way of life for so many people, either on stage or behind the scenes.

Cast of the Great Hall Theatre Company in their performance of Terra Nova in 2008.

Cast of the Great Hall Theatre Company in their performance of Terra Nova in 2008. - Credit: Great Hall Theatre Company

But there is some good news….

An impressive booklet has been produced, thanks to John Bury and others, to rekindle such fond memories.

Illustrated with wonderful photographs it tells so well the story of how and when the company was formed and the part it has played in so many lives.

Dating from 1480, Donald Pyle’s medieval Great Hall in Oak Street became the venue that sowed the seeds of theatre in and around Norwich – with invited actors presenting plays to invited audiences within the unique ambience of this remarkable landmark.

Elizabeth and John Stokes with director John Bury. Duel of Angels in 1995.

Elizabeth and John Stokes with director John Bury. Duel of Angels in 1995. - Credit: Great Hall Theatre Company

Directed by Donald, this was so successful it led the small company to alternative venues via the Baker’s Arms, the Friends Meeting House, St Peter’s, Park Lane, before finally becoming the resident theatre company at the Assembly House.

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“With attendances averaging just below 70% of capacity over the last ten seasons, the closure has come as a surprise and great disappointment to audiences who have witnessed series drama, comedy and farce of a high quality,” said John.

“It has drawn on the best acting talent across the city and county maintaining the standard through the decades.

Roger Gamble as Lob in the Great Hall Theatre Company's performance of Dear Brutus in 1996.

Roger Gamble as Lob in the Great Hall Theatre Company's performance of Dear Brutus in 1996. - Credit: Great Hall Theatre Company

“Sadly, actors want to act, and generally decline the pushing and shoving of staging, furniture and properties etc., so with a change in the policy of the Assembly House Trust, an ageing committee and few extra helpers, Great Hall has had to say goodbye to their impressive venue,” added John.

That makes the illustrated brochure containing 64 photographs, a list of performances and contributions from actors and directors an even more valuable part of local history.

Kar Oakley and Neil Stenton in the Great Hall Theatre Company's performance of Dangerous Corner, 2004.

Kar Oakley and Neil Stenton in the Great Hall Theatre Company's performance of Dangerous Corner, 2004. - Credit: Great Hall Theatre Company

It costs £5, including postage, and can be yours by clicking on the Great Hall Theatre Company website https://great-hall-theatre.sumup.link

On the positive side the trustees are committed to supporting local theatre and arts groups, especially where young people are involved. For more details email secretary@greathalltheatre.org.uk