A new curtain rises at The Little Theatre

Leicester Drama Society refreshes board of trustees ahead of £3m renovation plans.

A night time shot of The Little Theatre logo sign
Photo by Sally Evans

A new era is beginning at The Little Theatre. Leicester Drama Society met on Sunday for its Annual General Meeting, which saw the election of the theatre's new board of trustees.


Among the new appointments was incoming Trustee for Productions, Joe Middleton.


Coming out of the pandemic, the time is right for a reinvigoration of the theatre community, with the goal being to bring new people and fresh energy to the Dover Street venue.


"I am hoping to bring a fresh enthusiastic approach in this post-pandemic era," says Joe. "We have to adjust our audience strategy and make our theatre universally accessible to all ages."


The new trustees are hoping to grow the membership of the regular audience and performing talent. New community building events, a dynamic programme of plays and other performances, and an expanded lineup of workshops are all on the agenda.

The cast of Blue Stockings performing at The Little Theatre
New Trustee for Productions Joe Middleton (third from left) in Blue Stockings, September 2021

There's a particular interest in tapping into Leicester's diverse culture, bringing different voices and backgrounds to The Little Theatre.


"I am excited to see the diverse range of engaging theatre we can provide for our whole community to enjoy, increasing interaction and hopefully putting The Little Theatre firmly on Leicester's map and everyone's radar."

The cast of Cinderella at The Little Theatre, Leicester - the 2021/22 pantomime
The cast of Cinderella, 2021/22 pantomime

Leicester Drama Society (LDS), which owns The Little Theatre, is celebrating its 100 year anniversary.


Founded in 1922, following a meeting at the Turkey Café, LDS staged its first productions at The Royal Opera House in Silver Street. The building was demolished in 1960.


The society later moved to the Association Hall, now The Y Theatre, before moving to the former Dover Street Baptist Chapel in 1929. LDS purchased the building in 1932 for £14,000, renaming it as The Little Theatre.

The cast of A Bunch of Amateurs during dress rehearsal
The cast of A Bunch of Amateurs, February 2022

Having struggled for space over the years, the theatre's main ambition for its centenary year is a large scale refurbishment and expansion of the building. This will include the addition of a 100 seat studio theatre, new rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms and an expanded wardrobe department.


The council has agreed to sell the neighbouring land to LDS for £1 (yes, one pound), if they can raise funding for the project.


Funds of £1.7m are required for the first phase, which would include building the outer shell and studio theatre.


A total of £3m is required to complete the plans, with £150k raised so far from corporate sponsors, legacies and individual donations. The original hope was to have the project completed by 2022, but this was delayed by Covid-19.


There's still ample time to support the project, with naming rights and other opportunities available for major benefactors.

 

Written by Tom Young

Tom is a feature writer for Niche Magazine and the Event Co-Ordinator for Cross Productions. He has a degree in Creative Writing and over a decade of experience working in comedy and theatre as the founder of improv group The Same Faces. He writes about what's on, interesting people, and local events.