Amateur Theatre Guild

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Founding and early history

Port Elizabeth's Amateur Theatre Guild was founded in 1961 by members of the cast of King Lear which was produced in that year after the death of producer Andre Huguenet. The group cooperated so well together that they decided to form a new organisation under the name Amateur Theatre Guild. During their first year they produced Our Town, Rope, Tea and Sympathy, and The Lark. Hundreds of people were unable to see The Lark because the season, fully booked, could not be extended as no other suitable venue could be found. These four productions raised well over R4 000-00 for various charities. Founding "members" included Christine Roberts, George Jones, Jill Shepherd, Alan Williams, and David Hemmings.

Aims and function

The Amateur Theatre Guild was unique in South Africa as it had no funds, no members as such, no committee, no secretary and no constitution.

Later status

By August 1962, the Amateur Theatre Guild was also calling itself the Port Elizabeth Theatre Guild.


Impact on SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

February 20 - 24, 1962: The Amateur Theatre Guild produced Five Finger Exercise at the Port Elizabeth City Hall.

August 14 - 18, 1962: The Port Elizabeth Theatre Guild presented Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize winning play, Death of a Salesman at the Port Elizabeth City Hall. The play was directed by David Barnett - producer. The setting was by Patsy Barnett.

April 16 - 23, 1963: The Amateur Theatre Guild staged Hamlet at the Port Elizabeth City Hall. The play was produced by Will Jamieson with all proceeds going towards the Red Cross.


Sources

Sunday Tribune, February 11, 1962.

Evening Post, April 10, 1963.

Eastern Province Herald April 20, April 17, 1963.

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