The Little Theatre

The Little Theatre, Vale Road, Rhyl

This is the first theatre in the UK built specifically for children. It opened in May 1963 as a home for Rhyl Children’s Theatre Club, which still plays an important educational role today.

Actor Joseph Holroyd founded the club in 1944 to give local youngsters the chance to appreciate and take part in theatrical productions. In 1962 Flintshire council granted the club a 21-year lease on a vacant school, at a peppercorn rent. The school couldn’t be converted to a theatre so a campaign raised funds to replace the school with a theatre at the same site. Local people bought bricks for 2/6p or seats at £5 apiece. The building was equipped with a lighting box, fly tower and a stage which is bigger than some in London’s West End!

The building cost £18,000. As well as the local fundraising, there were grants from the Department of  Education, the Gulbenkian Foundation and Flintshire County Council, and a loan from Rhyl Urban District Council.

Many young people have written, produced and staged their own productions here. The poet Adrian Henri (1932-2000) was one of the theatre club’s earliest members. He is best-known for his association with Liverpool but was educated in Rhyl and St Asaph.

Three former club members later forged careers with the Royal Shakespeare Company and a fourth, Sara Sugarman, is a Hollywood film director. Others, including two university professors, say the self-confidence they gained at the theatre club helped them in their studies and careers. Children with special education needs have also benefited from club activities. High-profile artists have been presidents of the club, including actor Richard Burton.

The club is still run by volunteer trustees. Children pay only £2 a week to attend the Saturday-morning club. The theatre bears the running costs and provides costumes and scenery for productions.

In 2001 Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was involved in a fracas with a protestor outside the Little Theatre, an incident which was widely reported by the media.

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: LL18 2BS

Website of the Little Theatre

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