ABOUT OUR SOCIETY
After the initial impetus from the Rotary Talent Quest and the Society’s success with the Mannequin Parade and Jubilee Drama Festival, Parkes members worked actively with the Forbes Society in their production of the Gondoliers under the direction of Mary Davis which was staged in both towns. This co-operation helped in building up the confidence and experience of the local members many of whom were novices in stage appearances. In the first few years, the Methodist Choir, under the direction of Ron Watts, produced quite a number of Gilbert & Sullivan musicals that allowed members to participate. Stan Kingham remembers those years when father Frank and sister Lila were involved with both groups, singers such as Renee Pearson, Jack Scoble, Dot Murphy, Harold Jennings were prominent in most productions, ably supported by the Parkes Orchestra. Cheryl, another member of the Kingham family, joined with Stan, as staunch members over many years.
Out of any congenial discussion is the possibility of concrete proposals and so it seems the case with the M & D Little Theatre.
George Pittendrigh and Toby Rudolf, teachers at the High School and enthusiastic members of the Society were yarning over a few beers after rehearsals and decided the M & D needed their own place to rehearse, even though the bank balance showed a 16 Pounds deficit. It wasn’t long before Council was approached to build a clubhouse for the Society, little did Council know the clubhouse was to be a fully blown theatre, or so the story goes !!!
After weeks of cleaning bricks, mixing concrete for the foundations, the back grinding effort started to pay off with the walls of the theatre moving skyward, to the delight of members. With the help of tradesman, such as bricklayers, carpenters and plumbers from the Apex Club, the building was completed to the wall plate stage by early 1956, under the supervision of Jack Davis and Bill Robinson, the honorary architect. Unfortunately despite the efforts of members, the money ran out so Council was approached for a grant to roof the theatre and externally finish the building. Council agreed to provide 1,000 pounds, providing two Councillors, Ken Payne and Eric Nash were appointed to the management committee.
At the end of 1957 the Little Theatre was really very basic and unfinished as the Bogan Street side of the Theatre was a temporary fibro wall set back some distance to allow for future extension. The entrance was a set of wooden steps rising to a porch in front of two wide doors which led into the theatre, a not very efficient sound barrier to outside traffic, especially if a truckie parked a load of pigs outside while he had a quickie at the local pub. Another problem was the winter chill, as the doors really let the cold draughts in and at this stage with no heating, overcoats, scarves and warm socks were a necessity. One of our members, Lorraine Bond, an art teacher, painted a colourful pattern of squares on the temporary wall which lasted till the theatre was upgraded in 2000. Lorraine incidently married Bill Soeder, another member of the Society. Also included in the main structure was a small vestibule entrance on the car park side with a basic kitchen adjoining, allowing supper to be provided there or through a servery to the main theatre. Attached to the back of the kitchen were the toilets, used by both the cast and patrons which created a bit of a culture shock for the visitors to be confronted by cast members in full costume having a nervous before going on stage.