In the summer of 2018, the new owners of Little Easton Manor Estate, Andy and Mel, contacted us to invite the Greville Theatre Company to return to The Barn Theatre.
In the years following the Second World War, before television became widely available, many amateur drama groups sprang up throughout the UK, playing an important role in the cultural life of the nation, providing local culture and entertainment at a time when it was sorely needed.
This was particularly valuable in rural areas away from major cities and towns, where the same was happening in professional theatre in, for example, Coventry, Colchester and Chichester.
The leaders of many of these amateur drama companies were members of the teaching profession; Dunmow was no exception. A group of teachers from Helena Romanes School, led by the then head teacher, Trevor Phillips, formed the "Greville Theatre Club". The first performance in 1959 was Everyman. Written in the 14th century, it is widely thought the finest of the medieval English morality plays.
Initially, performances were held in the school hall, but in the 1970’s the Barn Theatre became home to the Greville. This ancient performance space, reputed to have been the location of Tudor revels in the sixteenth century, was converted from the village tithe barn to a theatre in 1913 by Daisy, Countess of Warwick ‘to amuse my growing family’. The song "Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer Do "was written about her, and Greville was Daisy's family name.
The Barn Theatre hosted performances by many of the great names of the day during Daisy’s latter years, including Ellen Terry and Charlie Chaplin. For us at the Greville Theatre Company, it always feels such an honour to tread the same boards as those legends of yesteryear!