Dramatic Society of East London

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The Dramatic Society of East London (DRAMSOC East London) is an amateur dramatic society.


Founded in 1952 by Norman Lazarus, Juliet Lazarus, Walter Essex-Clarke, Evelyn Essex-Clarke, Louis Alexander, Lynette Alexander and Jimmy Nicholas as a society where those with a passion for the performing arts could practice their craft and create opportunities for others to do the same.

The society focusses mainly on the production of popular musicals, comedies and dramas with their amateur members, though it did on occasion participate in partnership with professional organisations such as CAPAB. Early productions were staged at St Saviour's Church Hall and the East London City Hall.

They were among the societies supporting the Guild Theatre Association’s attempts to build a civic theatre for the city in 1954, and once it had been built, became one of the most eager users of the facility. Their production of The School for Scandal opened (the Guild Theatre) in October 1962, and their members provided the voluntary workers to staff the theatre.

The advent of television in 1976 diminished their activity, as it did with most such organisations, but they remained active well into the 21st century.

In 1989, the society collaborated with the East London Museum in a production of David Wood's play The Selfish Shellfish.

In the 2000s, the society established the FNB Alexander Playhouse Eastern Cape High Schools' Drama Festival.


The Society built their own venue in 1963. It was used for rehearsals and performances. From 1986, dinner/theatre productions were regularly staged at the venue. Initially called The Playhouse, it was re-named The Alexander Playhouse in 1999 after founding member, Lynette Alexander.

Productions (1953-)

1953: The Flaw, The Last Plot, Cream of Tartar, Is Your Honeymoon Really Necessary?, Pink String and Sealing Wax, Love from a Stranger, The Man Who Came to Dinner.

1954: Intent to Murder, Home at Seven, Young Wives' Tale, The Shop at Sly Corner, The Happiest Days of Your Life.

1955: Two Dozen Red Roses, Don't Listen Ladies, Peace Offensive, The Yeomen of the Guard, His Excellency, Heaven on Earth, Strange Parallel, Behind the Lace Curtain, Playgoers, The Strong Go On, Scattered Showers, Charity Begins....

1956: Ten Little Niggers, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, The Late Christopher Bean, Ladies in Retirement, The Bespoke Overcoat (Festival Play).

1957: Here We Come Gathering, The Gondoliers, Gaslight, Lithuania (Festival Play), My Sister Eileen.

1958: To Dorothy a Son, Merrie England, The Reluctant Debutante.

1959: Bonaventure, Waltz Time, The Whole Truth, The Diary of Anne Frank, Noah.

1960: Simon and Laura, The Wooden Dish, The Women, Death of a Salesman.

1961: Birthday Honours, A Touch of Fear, Seperate Tables, The Water Babies.

1962: Pygmalion, Casse Noisette, Noddy, Our Town.

1963: The Gazebo, Patience, The Waltz of the Toreadors, A Night to Remember, Orpheus, Ondine.

1964: The Innocents, You Can't Take it With You, The Shifting Heart, The Amorous Prawn.

1965: The Miracle Worker, Will Any Gentleman? Red Riding Hood.

1966: Sailor Beware!, Pools Paradise.

1967: Busybody, The Fourposter, The Christmas That Was.

1968: Five Finger Exercise, Beauty and the Beast, Say Who You Are.

1969: Woman in a Dressing Gown, The Queen of Hearts.

1970: Boeing-Boeing, Pirates of Penzance.

1971: The Women, Mother Goose.

1972: Winter Journey, Something to Hide.

1973: Breath of Spring, Rattle Of A Simple Man, The Happiest Days of Your Life, Water Babies.

1974: Plaza Suite, The Poker Session.

1975: Not Now Darling, Oliver!

1976: All In Good Time, Two And Two Make Sex.

1977: Cinderella.

1978: The Goes The Bride.

1979: Bedroom Farce, Bar and Ger, Lovers.

1980: Black Comedy, Joggers.

1981: Before the Party, Fringe Benefits, Something's Afoot.

1982: Key to Murder, The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See....

1983: Will Any Gentleman?, See How They Run, A Christmas Carol.

1984: Deathtrap, The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner.

1985: Fiddler on the Roof, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

1986: Nutcracker Sweet, Dark of the Moon.

1987: Hijack Over Hygenia.

1988: Hello, Dolly!

1989: The Selfish Shellfish, South Pacific, The Boy Friend.

1990: Night of January 16th.

1991: Flibberty and the Penguin, Mame.

1992: Hans Christian Andersen.

1993: Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma!.

1994: Save the Human, Gingerbread Man.

1995: Camelot, Showstoppers II, Annie Warbucks.

1996: Showstoppers III, Partners in Time.

2011: Hairspray

2012: Showstoppers Diamond Jubilee


DRAMSOC East London theatre programme November 1972.

Daily Dispatch, 13 December 1996

Partners in Time programme, 1996

'A history of East London’s theatres', ShowMe (online), 1 August 2019 (https://showme.co.za/east-london/events-entertainment/east-londons-theatres-and-their-history/)

Princess Nkabane and Nolihle Gulwa. 'Dramsoc tribute to local theatre legend'. Daily Dispatch. 5 December 2012.

Showstoppers Diamond Jubilee programme

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