The Little Theatre, home of the Dunstable 'Rep' Theatre Club, is in a building which was originally a school. This was erected in 1883 by the Chew's Charity after its original school next door had to close. The building became Dunstable Library in 1938 - the first full-time library in Bedfordshire.
It fell vacant after a new town library was built in Vernon Place in 1964 and it was then converted into a theatre by Dunstable Repertory Company.
The Rep began after a group of young people presented a play called 'Quiet Wedding' in 1944. The success of this led to the formation of the Rep whose first production was The Sacred Flame by Somerset Maughan in April 1945.
The drama group performed at Dunstable's old Town Hall in High Street North and built sets for its productions in a garage next door.
After the town hall closed in 1964, the Rep presented plays at various venues including Brewers Hill School and Kensworth Village Hall, as well as pantomimes and plays at the new Queensway Hall. The Rep then seized the opportunity to create its own theatre in the old library. It opened on October 7th 1968 with a production of the comedy Come Blow Your Horn. Actor Bernard Bresslaw (President of the Rep) conducted the opening ceremony.
In its first season the Little Theatre presented such plays as The Crucible, The Grass Is Greener, Twelfth Night and The Long and the Short and the Tall. By 2022 the Rep had produced around 400 different plays and hosted many performances by other local theatre groups.
After numerous changes to the layout the theatre now provides a 99-seater raked auditorium, changing rooms, a Green Room, box office, coffee lounge and a bar.
Text: John Buckledee and Jenny Dilnot ©
Design: David Turner.
Narration: Angela Goss of Dunstable Repertory Company.
Recording: David Hornsey.
Website developer: Joshua Buckledee.