A Brief History

In the 1930’s a group of local theatre enthusiasts – many of them friends and acquaintances from their respective churches, and, principally, Priory Methodist Church – decided to form an amateur dramatic group. They called themselves, “The Doncaster Literary Society”.

The ‘LIT’ used a number of venues in local church halls. Many of those productions were wonderfully staged and incredibly successful.

Despite the exigencies of the war years, the ‘LIT’ went from strength to strength and when the new Arts Centre (or Civic Centre as it was known) was opened, the ‘LIT’ was one of the first groups wanting to perform there offering an adventurous choice of plays throughout the post-war era.

The ‘LIT’S’ activities were not just confined to these shows and there were play readings, theatre trips, parties, beetle drives, quiz nights, the ‘Special Effort’ at St. James’ Church Hall in the summer. The monies raised at these events helped to keep the Society afloat.

The Society reached a point where some members wanted to do a greater variety of plays, the backstage members wanted their own workshop, and some saw the advantages of a more intimate theatrical style in a smaller space. The Society decided to search for premises which would offer the desired scope for their theatrical ambitions. Any premises needed to be centrally located and affordable, with the potential to be converted to a theatre.

Eventually, the dilapidated L – shaped warehouse on King Street was located. It was very run down, having been home to several different short-lived businesses. In the autumn of 1994, members of the ‘LIT’ launched into the conversion of the King Street building to create the new Doncaster Little Theatre. The theatre opened in March 1995 with the production of Terence Rattigan’s “The Deep Blue Sea”. Almost overnight, the annual programme of plays quadrupled and a new highly successful Youth Theatre – “The Young Lit” – was formed. Also, the members slowly started to welcome other artistes and companies, both amateur and professional, to supplement and enrich the artistic programme of the theatre.

Since 1995 Doncaster Little Theatre has continued to grow and currently puts on twelve main house performances each year. The members offer a varied programme including Pantomime, plays with music, pure drama, musicals and cabaret. The Artistic Committee, supported by the Board of Trustees, is keen to offer the members as many theatrical experiences as possible and to this end encourages people to challenge themselves by taking on roles that are a little outside of their comfort zone or by enabling them to begin directing with the support of an experienced Director.

The Young Lit puts on three annual productions which vary from musical plays to Shakespeare to comedy to murder mystery to Greek tragedy. Some of our young actors also support main house plays and the pantomime. A number of our Young Lit go on to study drama at university and some have joined the professional theatre. Currently we have forty five young people who regularly attend our Saturday drama workshops and who support the theatre and the arts in Doncaster by appearing on our stage.