Windsor Theatre Guild

About Us

WHO ARE THE WINDSOR THEATRE GUILD?

The Windsor Theatre Guild are Windsor’s only amateur dramatics society and perform 3-4 times a year – a spring production, a summer matinee, a summer Shakespeare and an autumn play.

The cast of The Merry Wives of Windsor outside the Chapter Garden, 1951

The Guild, which is a registered charity, is managed by a committee, elected each year at an AGM held during the month of January.

The Committee generally meets once a month. It organises productions, workshops and social events. Membership is open to all ages and includes actors, directors, stage managers, costumiers, set builders, lighting and sound operators.

We also have several members who have trained as professional teachers of speech and drama and dance/choreography. We have an active youth group in the Young Windsor Theatre Guild which offers drama classes for young people on Saturday mornings.

A Doll’s House, 1940

Windsor Theatre Guild formed in 1959 – but can be traced back 20 years prior to this to 1939.

With membership charged at a mere 1-2 shillings a year (between 5-10p these days) it’s first official play was Conflict by Miles Malleson in 1939, which was performed in the Labour Hall in St. Leonard’s Road.

Windsor Theatre Guild’s second production was Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. This was performed for three nights in January 1940 and the programme on this occasion was professionally printed (that for Conflict had been handwritten). It must have been gratifying for all concerned when the press headlined its review “A Society with a Future”.

Look Back In Anger, 2014, Maidenhead Town Hall

In addition to its regular programme of productions the Guild threw itself enthusiastically into projects aimed to boost the war effort during WWII, with proceeds from an evening of three one-act plays being donated to the Red Cross.

The Guild turned its hand to Shakespeare for the first time in Sept 1941 when it presented The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by founder member Dorothea Alexander at the Conservative Club to great critical acclaim.

The Guild was invited several times to submit plays for the Toynbee Hall Theatre Drama Festival in East London. A RADA adjudicator in 1943 giving his adjudication of the Guild’s performance of The Intruder by Maurice Maeterlinck said that the entry was “beautifully played and beautifully produced”.

Moving props in 1942, outside the Castle

In 1951 the Guild was invited to stage The Merry Wives of Windsor as part of Windsor’s contribution to the celebration of the Festival of Britain, the huge national event designed to give the country a boost after the long years of war. This marked the start of it’s annual summertime open air Shakespeare productions.

So wrote the Slough Observer in 1973: “and it is true that throughout the middle years the Guild did indeed continue to endeavour to choose plays, some traditional some experimental, that would stretch its actors and stimulate its

The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 2002

audience rather than the plays that form the staple diet of most amateur dramatic societies.”

This is something Windsor Theatre Guild has strived to continue in it’s late-1990s years and into the 21st Century, with things currently rolling out a tradition of a comedy in the spring and a drama in the autumn at the Guild Hall next to Windsor Castle.

For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and find out how you can be a part of this historic theatre company.