The History of the Dunstable Rep

Chews HouseDunstable Repertory Theatre, fondly known as ‘The Rep’, was formed in 1945 after a group of young people performed a play called ‘Quiet Wedding’. They enjoyed the production so much that they decided to form a theatre group.

Throughout the late forties and fifties The Rep performed at the old Town Hall. It built its sets in an old garage next to the old Town Hall. At that time The Rep performed 3 productions a year to packed houses and its membership grew.

In 1964 the demolition of the Town Hall made way for the erection of the all purpose Queensway Hall (The Civic Centre). The Queensway Hall had an 800 seat auditorium but was not a venue for intimate plays. The Rep did produce a number of pantomimes and plays at The Queensway Hall but could never fill the venue.

Audience preparing for the first performanceThe Rep started to present plays at Brewers Hill school, Kensworth Village Hall and Maldon from 1966. They used simple travelling sets and produced mainly comedies and farces, but despite being well supported it was not the same as having a permanent home.

In 1964 the old library next door to Chews House became vacant and The Rep committee approached Chews Foundation to see if they could lease the building and convert it into a theatre. On 7th October 1968 The Rep performed their first of many productions at The Little Theatre, as the converted library was named.

The History of the Little Theatre

The home of the Rep for the last 50 years!

The old library before the Rep moved inThe Little Theatre has an interesting history.

- In 1715 Chews Charity School was built at Chews House, next door to The Little Theatre building, to provide a school for 40 poor boys of Dunstable.

The old library being converted- In 1883 The Chew Trustees opened a second school (now The Little Theatre building) next door to Chew's Charity School, as education of children aged five to ten years became compulsory. The Little Theatre building was built to provide extra accommodation for the boys of Chews Charity.

- In 1938 Dunstable Library opened at Chew's School building (now Little Theatre).

The first rake seatingIn 1964, as part the development of the Queensway Hall site, a new town library was built. The old library building became vacant and it was converted into The Little Theatre and opened on 7th October of the same year by Bernard Bresslaw.

The theatre now provides a 99 seater raked auditorium, changing rooms, a Green Room, box office, coffee room and a bar.