Curtains No Longer
Tony Aldous looks at a new history of British theatres
Britain’s theatres are rather like whales – an endangered species, but with a vigorous conservation movement working to save them. They are probably under less threat now than twenty years ago, says John Earl, co-editor of The Theatre Trust’s Guide to British Theatres, 1750-1950, which has just been published by Who’s Who publisher A & C Black.
When its predecessor Curtains came out in 1982, the widespread threat from demolition and development was compounded by public ignorance. ‘Most people didn’t even know that good but disused theatres existed in their own towns,’ says Earl. ‘We had to demonstrate that they were a wonderful resource which was neglected.’ Part of the problem was that there was no comprehensive listing and description of what existed. Curtains provided that, and pretty dismal reading many of the entries then made.