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 and called themselves, ?The Doncaster Literary Society?
Believe it or not, some ?LIT? (as it came to be known) stalwarts are still alive and certainly kicking, and they remember those early pioneering days with great affection. A number of venues in local church halls were used, and a lot of those productions were wonderfully staged and were incredibly successful.
Despite the exigencies of the war years, the ?Lit? only went from strength to strength. Not surprisingly, when the new Arts Centre (or Civic Centre as it is known) was opened, the ?Lit? was one of the first groups lining up to play there. Through the post-war era, the ?Lit? became more adventurous in its choice of plays, but was always mindful of what its substantial Doncaster following liked.
They settled into a regular programme of three shows a year, and that is how I discovered them when I joined them in the late 80s. Their activities were not just confined to these shows, however, ? there were play readings, theatre trips, parties, beetle drives, quiz nights, the ?Special Effort? at St. James? Church Hall in the summer ? and always another party!
At the time I joined, a group of people with theatre, technical and entrepreneurial backgrounds all joined the ?Lit? at roughly the same time. This influx of new blood, talented in many different fields, helped the ?Lit? to contemplate for the first time that its long-held ambition to have its own theatre might indeed become a reality. 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 search was now on for premises, centrally located and affordable, which we could convert to a theatre of our own.
After a few false starts, the dilapidated L ? shaped warehouse on King St. was located and seemed to have possibilities. It was very run down, having been home to several different short-lived businesses during the Thatcher years and beyond. In the autumn of 1994, all the then members of the Lit launched into the conversion of King St. into the new Doncaster Little Theatre, which opened in March 1995 with my production of Terence Rattigan?s ?The Deep Blue Sea?. Almost overnight, the annual programme of plays quadrupled, a new highly successful Youth Theatre ? ?The Young Lit? ? was formed, and we slowly started to welcome other artistes and companies, both amateur and professional, to supplement and enrich our artistic programme.