Grove Park Theatre is Wrexham’s oldest amateur theatre. The society was formed in 1925, initially as Grove Park Old Boys’ Amateur Dramatic Society, and the group moved into its current building on Hill Street in 1954. We joined the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain in 1975.
In 1925 a meeting of the Old Boys Association of Grove Park School was held at Messrs Roberts Café, and a few members interested in embarking on the world of drama volunteered to meet with the aim of forming a drama group. A subsequent meeting was held at the school and resulted in the birth of the Grove Park Old Boys’ Amateur Dramatic Society.
It was during these early years that the foundations were built on which our thriving theatre is now established. Initially the home of the society was the billiard room at Bodlondeb, In March 1931 it was decided to put the society on a more permanent basis, and a constitution and rules were approved and adopted.
Grove Park Amateur Dramatic Society
The next eventful year for the society was 1936 when, on the strength of an approach made the previous year to the Grove Park Old Girls’ Dramatic Society, it was agreed that the two societies should merge. The first Annual Meeting of the newly formed Grove Park Amateur Dramatic Society was held on 8 April of that year.
A special meeting in 1938 considered the possibility of finding a permanent home for the society. A most generous offer of land in Caxton Place was made by the President, Dr Reid, and after some months of negotiations, in the Easter holiday of 1939, to the accompaniment of news that Mussolini had invaded Albania, a strenuous weekend was spent erecting a sectional wooden building, purchased at a cost of £180, and from then on known as the ‘Hut’. This became headquarters, rehearsal room, workshop and home to the society - though only for a short while, as war was declared and the Hut was requisitioned.
The difficulties were immense. However, all these problems were somehow overcome, and the reputation of the society was not only maintained but enhanced.
The year 1945 saw the ‘Hut’ regained and, from the autumn of 1945 into 1946, a full programme of plays, one-act plays, play readings, lectures, theatre visits and social evenings was enjoyed.
The Little Theatre
At about this time a committee was formed to consider securing a more permanent theatre in which the society could present its productions, and in 1948 two major events took place. The supporter membership was founded, and the search for our own theatre began in earnest. However, it was not until 1954 that the present building was purchased.
At the annual general meeting of the society in May 1954 it was agreed to purchase the old Masonic Hall (latterly the YWCA), to be vested in the society’s Trustees and converted into the Little Theatre, the foyer and dressing rooms to be added later.
The task of designing and building the Little Theatre was accomplished by the members of the society.
By the late 1950s a full season of six plays was being produced. Through the sixties and seventies the theatre settled into full-length productions of major works. Supporter membership increased, and improvements were made to the theatre facilities in 1966 when the present lounge, kitchen and bar were added.
We are always seeking to improve the theatre experience for our members and supporters, and always try to keep the lines of communication open, whether this is through community surveys, consultation at our annual general meetings, or collaboration with other like-minded individuals and organisations.
For some years now the theatre has been a member of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain; we have regular exchange visits with other theatre members of the Guild, to help maintain and improve standards in all departments.
Though membership over the years has fluctuated as young juvenile leads have become middle-aged mums and dads and then old fogies, the theatre continues to attract and hold enthusiastic and talented members of all ages. The society will continue to enhance its amateur professionalism in all aspects of theatre, hopefully for years to come.
We are anxious to attract young people to live theatre on both sides of the ‘curtain’, and the young as well as the young at heart are always welcome to come and join us - who knows what you may be missing!