Founded in 1962 by members of Romford Civil Defence Players (later to adopt the slightly less ferocious sounding name, 'Comedy Players') and Romford Children's Theatre, the group's inaugural production, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', also boasted members of the
Romford School of Dancing.
It would be an
other two years before the group adopted the more familiar 'Romford Summer Theatre'; a name which is now synonymous with high calibre open air productions of Shakespeare's comedies in the Havering area.
In its early days the group benefited from the experience of members of local drama groups, including Frank Everett of the Chameleons who had presided over the Romford and Hornchurch Theatre Association in 1960 - an umbrella group featuring performers from eleven local groups who came together in order to stage productions beyond the reach of their individual companies.
Founder members Edwin 'Eddie' Rudd and Gordon 'Bumble' Humby brought their talents to bear, with Edwin not only acting, producing and directing shows, but also designing and making a number of costumes for the group. In this, he was ably assisted by a young actress called Con Chandler, who would continue to design and re-make costumes for the group, as well as eventually taking on the role of Secretary and Chair.
In addition to nurturing the talents of its actors, RST also provided many a chance to develop their skills as directors and many benefited from the enthusiasm and experience of Frank Willcocks who proved a great inspiration to both old and new members alike.
Over the years, audiences have watched as our actors and actresses returned year on year, growing out of the juvenile leads and into the older parts, eventually bringing their own families into the fold. Each new generation of members has been able to learn and grow under the watchful guidance of those who went before, including their spouses who have often made up the key elements of the back stage team, making the group feel like a wonderful, warm and ever growing family and something which its members hope to remain a part of for many years to come.
For more information on the history of Romford Summer Theatre and our past productions, you may be interested in purchasing a copy of our Golden Anniversary booklet, '50 Years of Romford Summer Theatre' by Norma Jennings.
Copies of the booklet cost just £6 (including post and packaging) and are available from our online shop.