The Stockport Garrick is the oldest Little Theatre in the country and has staged plays continuously since it was formed in 1901.
The Stockport Garrick Theatre was founded on 24th of October, 1901, by engineer Edwin Heys and his fellow actors: fugitives from the disbanded dramatic society of Stockport Unitarian Church, They met in what was then The Church Coffee Tavern on St Petersgate, Heys and his friends resolved to found a new society "to perform the best plays by the most capable amateur actors and with the finest scenic effects". The new society was named after the great actor David Garrick and has remained in the centre of Stockport ever since.
The theatre kept its doors and its curtains open throughout both World Wars, and attracted the admiration and support of numerous luminaries in the world of professional theatre. Garrick productions have been performed in venues around the country and The Garrick's first production, The Merchant of Venice, in 1901, internationally over the decades.
The society purchased its current building, an old mill occupied by an assortment of small businesses, in 1920. Since then, the building's labyrinthine interior has undergone various refurbishments to enhance the society's ability to produce theatre to the highest standards possible.
It is the Garrick's early ownership of its own theatre space that qualifies it as England's oldest Little Theatre, a status that was celebrated in 2008 by the unveiling of a plaque by President of the Little Theatre Guild, Sir Ian McKellen. This plaque can be seen on St Petersgate, at the site of the coffee house in which the society was founded, within sight of the building where the ambitions of Edwin Heys and his co-founders continue to inspire a full season of high quality drama every year.
The society has also run a thriving Youth Theatre for over half its life, which currently produces a full show each winter. Visit the Theatre website for more information.
A contribution to ABC Wednesday.