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Eltham Little Theatre Limited, Wythfield Road, Eltham, London SE9 5TG
Registered as a Company in England and Wales. Company No. 401481
Registered as a Charity. Charity No. 208710

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THE STORY OF THE NEW STAGERS


In 1976 Barry Jennings, a local teacher and a leading member of, what was then, Eltham Little Theatre, saw the need for a junior theatrical group to cater for local children who were genuinely interested in acting. He spread the word, and on March 27th that year about a dozen young people turned up for an initial meeting. News of the group's foundation travelled swiftly, and within a few weeks the numbers had increased spectacularly swelling to over 70, with extra parts being written in for them right up to and including the dress rehearsal. And yet on the two performance nights in July -- in the middle of that year's notorious heatwave -- 'Superstick' was a triumphant success, and The New Stagers were on their way.


During succeeding years the group stabilised and became properly valued within the theatre. Barry continued to run it, with the assistance of his friend the late Margaret Carver, sometimes presenting as many as three shows in a year, many of them specially written. From time to time Barry would take a rest and someone else would direct a show with the group ; over the years, other directors have included Bryony Ford, Paul Howard, Maggi Law, Robin Kelly, Geoff Sage, Colin Hill, Ivor Kemp, Sarah Chipperfield, Gerri Kemp, Mike Martin, Wendy Reynolds, Mel Mitchell, Elizabeth Vile, Dave Jordan and Nick Bartlett.


In 1993 Ivor Kemp, who had been working with The New Stagers for some time in collaboration with Barry, took over responsibility. He introduced separate smaller shows for the group to perform in the George Tapp Studio at the rear of the theatre, in addition to one big show a year in the main auditorium. Mike Martin arrived to assist, and when Ivor moved away to work in Dorset , Mike took over the group.


Today the New Stagers are led by a team of dedicated people, who are well equipped to provide tuition in drama, music and a wide range of theatre skills. They can call on professionals for outside of the Bob Hope Theatre to provide workshops and specialist training, and our own technical and stage management people are on hand should training in these areas be required.


The activities of The New Stagers are not confined to acting. They are given workshops in all aspects of drama, with tutoring from outside professionals as well as experienced Bob Hope Theatre members. They're also given the chance to go on trips -- In the past they have been to workshops with the cast of 'Les Miserables' in the West End of London and have visited Shakespeare's Globe. There have been circus skills workshops and many other events in addition to their own drama productions. Over the years, members have been involved in television specials such as "See You In Court" and have been instrumental in raising funds for specific theatre purposes.

Many ex-members of The New Stagers have moved on to careers in various areas of show business and over the years a great many of them have stayed with our theatre and become leading adult performers, directors, technicians, etc.


The group's policy has not changed since Barry Jennings founded it.


The group meet on Saturday mornings with additional rehearsals when a production is approaching.


The New Stagers group provides a basic hands-on grounding in theatre. Talent is not crucial and previous experience is unnecessary ; it's more a matter of enthusiasm, loyalty and reliability. From time to time there is a waiting list to join, but if you are interested in joining the list, contact the Theatre's Membership Secretary via the Theatre office. Telephone 020 8850 3702 or e-mail membership@bobhopetheatre.org.uk.