Royal Manor Theatre

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Royal Manor Theatre is a theatre on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England—within the village of Fortuneswell, amongst village shops. The theatre was once a Methodist chapel, and retains that appearance from the outside.[1][2][3]

History

The Royal Manor Theatre Company (RMTC) first began in 1947, when it was known as the Portland Dramatic Society (PDS). The Society was formed when approximately a dozen local people wished to return live theatre to Portland following the Second World War.[4] The venues used by the Society would range across Portland and Weymouth. During early 1957, the Society successfully obtained the use of the Masonic Hall in Victoria Square on a yearly lease. The Society attracted good audience numbers[clarification needed] throughout this period, but in early 1964 suffered a setback after the hall owners decided they wanted full use of the premises. After an eighteen-month search for a new venue, an agreement was made for use of the Jubilee Hall in Easton Square. The Society continued to use the Jubilee Hall until the end of 1970, when they were evicted again because the owners had other plans for the hall.

By the end of 1971, the Society's future looked uncertain and bleak. As there were no halls available in Portland for staging plays, it looked as if the Society would disband. However, the Society's fortune changed after Captain and Mrs. Chibnall—contacted one of the committee members, and arranged to meet with the Society. At the meeting, the Chibnalls revealed that they were interested in buying the disused Primitive Methodist Hall in Fortuneswell—built in 1869 by James Kerridge.[5] The meeting reassured the Chibnalls that the drama members were enthusiastic, capable, and determined, so they offered to lease the upper floor to the Society for £25 a year. The Society would convert the upper chapel floor into a theatre, whilst the Chibnalls retained the lower floor (the hall) for letting. Conversion work began in late summer 1972.[6]

After six years of construction work, the theatre officially opened in October 1978. Overall, the project involved 11,000 hours of voluntary labour and cost £3,500. With the new theatre soon to open, the Society decided to change the group's name from the Portland Dramatic Society to the Royal Manor Theatre Company.[7] In 1980, owner Captain Chibnall decided to sell the property. As a result, the company approached the Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to ask for support in obtaining a bank loan. The council proposed to purchase the building and then lease it to the company at a yearly rental rate. Chibnall agreed to sell the building for his original purchase price, plus the cost of improvements he had made, which totalled £8,500. In May 1980 the transfer of ownership was completed, and the Royal Manor Theatre Company repaid the loan in full by 1985.

Regarded[by whom?] as Portland's 'Little Theatre', the company's first aim is to provide live theatrical entertainment of a high standard for the local community within easy reach of their homes. Another aim is to provide and improve education in all aspects of drama. The company's intentions have been recognised by the Charity Commissioners who granted the Company registered charitable status.

References

  1. "Portland's Royal Manor Theatre". Visitweymouth.co.uk. Retrieved 9 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Royal Manor Theatre. "Royal Manor Theatre - Theatre in Portland, Weymouth and Portland - Dorset". Visit-dorset.com. Retrieved 9 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Getting to the Royal Manor Theatre". Rmtcportland.co.uk. Retrieved 9 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "history". Rmtcportland.co.uk. 3 February 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Historic England. "Monument No. 1486593". PastScape. Retrieved 3 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "history". Rmtcportland.co.uk. 3 February 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "history". Rmtcportland.co.uk. 3 February 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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