Arts Theatre Club

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Arts Theatre Club, an amateur dramatic society in East London.

Founding, function and history

Since the early 1940’s, the East London Technical College Drama Club and East London Schools Music and Drama Association were involved in providing local theatre entertainment in the city. In the early 1950's, they were joined by the Dramatic Society of East London, the Music and Variety Club and The Children’s Theatre to raise funds toward the building of what was to be the Guild Theatre.

The Music and Variety Club and the East London Technical College Drama Club amalgamated on 29 June 1962 with the Arts Theatre Club being its new name.

The aim of the club was to provide local entertainment and to encourage visiting artists to perform locally, and in December 1962, the Arts Theatre Club put on Peter Pan, their first pantomime, at the newly opened Guild Theatre.

Over the next decade, many productions followed, until the club amalgamated with the East London Light Operatic Society on 19 May 1976. The Arts Theatre Club name was retained.

The Club adopted a new constitution on 10 November 2006.

The Arts Theatre Club has produced local drama productions over the past 50 years and has always encouraged visiting artists to utilize the venue.


President: Fred Cooper (1962-1973) G.A.A. Chapman (1974-1979) Harry Archer (1980-1982) Les Pike (1983-1987) Ernie Butterworth (1988) Les Pike (1989-1991) George Mountjoy (1992-1998) ? Bill Rudling (2003)

Chairperson: John Orpen (1962) Les Pike (1963-1969) Vic Kaiser (1970-1972) George Pentz (1973) C.E.W. Rowland (1974-1976) George Pentz (1977-1979) Les Pike (1980-1981) Bob Margolius (1982-1983) George Mountjoy (1984-1991) Mike Ormston (1992-1994) Gail Farrenkothen (1994-1996) Nola Durno (1997-1998) ? George Mountjoy (2005-2006) Amanda Bothma (2007-2010) Pieter Bothma (2011-2012)


By the start of 1965, plans were underway to find a permanent headquarters and rehearsal venue for the club and it was decided to purchase property in Paterson Street. The purchase was concluded on 19 March 1965.

In the late 1980s, the property at 51 Paterson Street was turned into a small theatre, The Arts Theatre. The first phase of alterations was completed in March 1987, coinciding with the club’s 25th anniversary. Phase two of the alterations were undertaken in 1991, with the venue reopening on 30th March 1991. In February 2021, the building in Paterson Street was sold.


1962: Peter Pan (directed by Hazel Muller).

1963: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (directed by Elaine Shaw); The House by the Lake (directed by Merle Tarr); Festival of One-Act Plays (directed by Elaine Shaw)

1964: Dark of the Moon (directed by George Canes); Romeo and Juliet (directed by Mary Howe); The Old Woman Who lived in a Shoe (directed by Elaine Shaw); The King and I (directed by Hazel Muller)

1965: Gigi (directed by Mary Howe); The Snow Queen (directed by Elaine Shaw)

1966: The Republic Anniversary Show; The Hasty Heart (directed by Lea Denfield); Blithe Spirit (directed by Mary Howe); The Wizard of Oz (directed by Hazel Muller)

1967: Billy Liar (directed by Lea Denfield) (in collaboration with the Hebrew Order of David)

1968: Seidman and Son (directed by George Canes) (in collaboration with the Hebrew Order of David); Listen to the Wind (directed by Hazel Muller)

1969: Let's Get a Divorce (in collaboration with the Garrick Players, directed by Mary Howe)

1970: The Owl and the Pussycat (directed by Mary Howe); The Gondoliers; Stairway to the Stars (directed by Hazel Muller); Black Chiffon (directed by Margie Weyer); Make Me a Widow (directed by Nick West); Charley's Aunt (directed by Pietro Nolte)

1971: Carousel (directed by Hazel Muller); Lady Frederick (presented in collaboration with the Garrick Players, directed by Mary Howe)

1972: Becket (directed by Hazel Muller); Relative Values (in collaboration with Dramatic Society of East London and Garrick Players, directed by Mary Howe); Peter Pan (directed by Hazel Muller)

1973: The Man (directed by Keith Konopka); Hayfever (directed by Mary Howe); Flying High (directed by Val Clur and Mavis Woods); Stairway to the Stars (directed by Hazel Muller)

1974: Don't Tell Father (directed by Mary Howe); The Sound of Music (directed by Hazel Tennant)

1975: Of Mice and Men (directed by Roger Corfield)

1976: Your Obedient Servant (directed by Mary Howe); The Man Most Likely To (directed by Mary Howe); Stairway 76 (directed by Hazel Tennant); My Fair Lady (directed by Hazel Tennant)

1977: On the Kitty (directed by Hazel Tennant); Pride and Prejudice (directed by Mary Howe); Murder Among Friends

1978: Murder in the Cathedral (directed by Mary Howe); Alice Through the Looking Glass (directed by Hazel Tennant and Marco van der Colff)

1979: The Unexpected Guest (directed by Mary Howe)

1980: Don't Start Without Me (directed by Dennis Versfeld); Jack and the Beanstalk (directed by Pam Emslie)

1981: Johnny Belinda (directed by Dennis Versfeld); Irma La Douce (directed by Dennis Versfeld); Blithe Spirit (directed by Drummond Marais)

1982: Half a Sixpence (directed by Don Titford)

1983: No productions

1984: White Horse Inn (directed by Mary Kockott); The Mousetrap (play reading, directed by George Mountjoy); Winnie-the-Pooh (directed by Joseph Ribeiro)

1985: Fantasy in Shakespeare (poetry reading, directed by Elaine Shaw); Scapino! (directed by Margery Moodie); No, No, Nanette (directed by Mary Kockott), Listen to the Wind (directed by Brian Cook)

1986: Charley's Aunt (play reading, directed by George Mountjoy); The Wizard of Oz (directed by Glynn Day)

1987: Grease (directed by George Mountjoy); An Evening of Strauss (directed by Pim de Boer); The Golden Goose (directed by Brian Cook)

1988: Wait Until Dark (directed by Colin Ward); Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood (directed by Robin Williams)

1989: Peace in Our Time (directed by Brian Cook); A Bedfull of Foreigners (directed by Colin Ward)

1990: Max's Egg (directed by George Mountjoy); Annie (directed by David Matheson)

1991: The Best of the West (directed by Brian Cook)

1992: Grease (directed by David Matheson); Alice in Christmas Wonderland (directed by Brian Cook)

1993: Peter Pan (directed by George Mountjoy)

1994: An Evening with the Union Jacksters; Are You a Mason? (directed by Ian Haselau); Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (directed by Kevin Feather)

1995: The Union Jacksters Through the Streets of London; The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 (directed by Pierre Perold)

1996: A Little Peace of the Sixties (directed by Pierre Perold); Three Wicked Women and a Lady (directed by Pierre Perold); The Union Jacksters Court of Henry XII (directed by Brian Cook); A Slice of the Seventies (directed by Pierre Perold)

1997: Sylvia's Secret Salmagundi (directed by Pierre Perold); Finally the Fifties (directed by Pierre Perold); Robin Hood (directed by Richard Rees)

1998: Everyman (directed by Pierre Perold); Cinderella - The True Story (directed by Marjorie Craib); A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock and Roll (directed by Pierre Perold)

1999: Celebration (directed by Marjorie Craib); Disney in Song (directed by Kim Mathieson)

2000: No productions

2001: Snow White - The True Story (directed by Marjorie Craib)

2002: No productions

2003: Fundraiser (directed by Pierre Perold); Animotion (directed by Kim Mathieson); Our Favourite Things (directed by Marjorie Craib)

2004: No productions

2005: Lloy Brent and Friends (fundraiser)

2006: Love is in the Air (directed by Amanda Bothma); Yesterday Once More (Lloy Brent and Friends fundraiser); Father Jolly Good (directed by George Mountjoy); Cinema, Cinema (directed by Amanda Bothma); Did Little Red Really Ride the Hood? (directed by Mbasa Tsetsana)

2007: My Funny Valentine (directed by Amanda Bothma); Lloy Brent and Friends (fundraiser); Clue: The Musical (directed by Amanda Bothma); Songs and Keys; Ponderella (directed by Mbasa Tsetsana)

2008: Arabian Nights Fantasy Show (directed by Amanda Bothma); The Chronicles of Jack (directed by Mbasa Tsetsana); Magical Mayhem at the Moulin Rouge

2009: Cupid and Psyche (directed by Amanda Bothma)

2010: Postcards from Paris (directed by Amanda Bothma)

2011: Diamonds and Divas (directed by Mark Williams)

2012: Lady Love (directed by Amanda Bothma); Evita (directed by Amanda Bothma).


Material held by NELM.

'A history of East London’s theatres', ShowMe (online), 1 August 2019 (

DispatchLIVE, 18 February 2021.

What's On, December 1987

Arts Theatre Club archive held by George Mountjoy.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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