Dawlish Repertory Company, an amateur society, was formed in 1949 by a small group of enthusiasts who met while attending a series of evening classes.
The first production of three one act plays took place in May 1950 at the local secondary school. Over the next three years a total of 14 plays were staged at the school and productions then moved to "The Hut", a local public hall.
Having produced 26 successful plays at this venue the Company was forced to look elsewhere when it was announced that the building was to be demolished. The only suitable building in Dawlish was The Shaftesbury Hall, which was on the market for £2,500 and it was estimated that it would cost a further £1,000 to convert the building into a theatre. Although the Rep at that time had a mere £40 to their name, the committee took the brave decision to purchase the building.
The building was constructed in 1881 and had been used for meetings and a variety of social gatherings. At one point it was owned by the Christian Alliance for Women and Girls before becoming privately owned. During this time it continued to be used by the local community for a variety of social functions.
The Shaftesbury Theatre was finally opened in September 1959. The stage area measured approximately 19 feet by 19 feet and at that time there was a seating capacity of 147.
In 1967 the company purchased the cottage at the rear of the theatre, providing additional space both backstage and in the public areas of the theatre. As with any old building there have been countless expenses over the years and the company has been responsible for major repairs and improvements to the building.
Since the most recent major alterations, carried out as Phases I and 2 of The Shaftesbury Quest, the seating capacity of the theatre is now 141. The Theatre season runs from October to September.
Please click on the link below to see a list of all the plays performed by the Dawlish Repertory Company in historical order.