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Regina Little Theatre

Regina Little Theatre (RLT) is the oldest continuously producing English-language theatre in western Canada. RLT was established in the spring of 1926 by Walter Read and Captain G.R. Chetwynd “to present the best plays for the entertainment of the members and to encourage new talent in all areas of the theatre.” RLT’s first productions were two one-act plays presented to members only on November 29, 1926, in the 600-seat Regina College Auditorium. This arrangement was typical in the first two seasons. The first public presentation was Officer 666, staged at the Grand Theatre in February 1927.

In 1928, Darke Hall was built on College Avenue. Described by Read as “an admirable theatre, one which few cities can rival,” it was used for RLT performances for many years, initially for a token annual rent of $30. In the early 1930s, RLT helped found the Saskatchewan Branch of the Dominion Drama Festival, and encouraged Little Theatre Clubs throughout the province. In 1931, RLT’s $2 annual membership fee provided admission to “club” performances, plus a half-price ticket for public performances. By 1933, there were 800 members; membership in 2002–03 was 882. Over the years, more than 7,000 community volunteers have participated in RLT productions, with nearly half a million tickets sold.

RLT ventured into competition in 1933 for the provincial playdowns of the Dominion Drama Festival. Until the Festival’s demise in 1971, RLT won many national honours for its productions, directors, and performers. It continues to compete in the Saskatchewan Community Theatre Inc. provincial festival each spring. The Society’s voice is the newsletter Masks and Faces, established in 1941.

In 1956, RLT bought a former puffed-wheat factory and paint shop on South Railway Avenue (now Saskatchewan Drive) for rehearsals, storage, social events, and small-scale performances. Productions continued in Darke Hall and local high schools until the Regina Performing Arts Centre opened at Angus Street and 4th Avenue in 1989. An executive, appointed annually by the members at a general meeting, manages the Society’s affairs. For many years, the Regina Little Theatre season has consisted of four or five full-length plays. Since the 1950s, annual one-act play evenings have facilitated the development of directors, actors, and emerging playwrights. Scholarships are awarded to promising active members. Regina Little Theatre has encouraged community theatre development throughout Saskatchewan and fostered the growth of other Regina companies such as Theatre Regina, Regina Summer Stage, and Regina Lyric Light Opera.

Lyn Goldman

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