Newcastle-under-Lyme Theatre: "THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT"


Historian Richard Talbot’s latest book is a tribute to the first purpose-built theatre in North Staffordshire: The Newcastle and Potteries Theatre, 1788-1957. He sets it in the context of theatre developments of the time, the social habits of the town and the class distinction which existed. Provincial theatres didn't have a permanent company - they were hired for periods by touring players, which then moved on to perform the same repertoire elsewhere in the country. This was all facilitated by the growing transport systems and rail network during the 19th Century - enabling the theatre to host London companies - and its milestone year was 1833 when the great violinist Paganini gave two performances there. The Theatre Royal in Hanley and other larger theatres drew large audiences in the latter part of the 19th Century, followed by the universal challenge of film shows which saw Newcastle Theatre convert to a cinema. It finally closed under the name The Roxy and was demolished in 1957. But during its 150-year lifetime it made a huge contribution to the social history of the town - and the wider issues of life at the time are addressed in this highly engaging book.