Rogues & Vagabonds

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The Archive: Annie Horniman and the first English repertory theatre | Features | The Stage

Originally posted in The Stage.

Annie Horniman was a founder of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester, the first repertory theatre in England

It all began with a letter in the Manchester Guardian, as it then was, on July 11 1907, announcing that Miss AEF Horniman and Mr B Iden Payne were intending to form a repertory theatre that autumn under the name the Manchester Playgoers’ Theatre.“We shall seek to produce good new plays, to revive old masterpieces and to present translations of the best works of foreign authors,” wrote Ben Iden Payne, a rather earnest 26-year-old Mancunian actor and director. “We have chosen Manchester because we feel that of all towns it is the one most ready for such an undertaking, and that there will be the support necessary for the success of our scheme.”

The working relationship between Horniman and Payne, despite a 20-year age gap, had been fostered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, which Horniman helped to establish and fund with the fortune she’d been left by her grandfather, founder of the world’s largest tea trading business. She also played a significant role in the early career of George Bernard Shaw, backing the first public performances of…

Source: The Archive: Annie Horniman and the first English repertory theatre | Features | The Stage

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