THEATRE
Strathmore Community Hall
Loeman Street
Strathmore
[Melway map 16 H10]

BOOKINGS: 9382 6284

About STAGtheatre

No drama group existed in the local Strathmore area at the time S.T.A.G., an unsubsidised amateur theatre company, was formed in 1954 - 1955.

The inaugural first meeting of twelve members was held in the home of Mary & Ron Little of Bruce St - two members of which (Ivy Walker & Mary Little) remain actively involved.

The site of its initial productions (And This Was Odd, Poison Pen & Here We Come Gathering) was at the St. John's Presbyterian Church Hall in Essendon, until the permanent purpose-built facility was organised through the Strathmore Community Association.

STAG's aim - then as it is now - is to bring together people of similar interests & to provide a true community theatre where members can share their talents & abilities in diverse fields of performance.

Over the years we have continued to present quality productions for the enjoyment of all & thank our patrons, audiences, players & crew for their ongoing support & dedication.

We look forward to seeing you at our next show!

Gail Armstrong (President)

Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group (STAG)
by Irma V. Jackson

In 1954, the following random events occurred in Strathmore:
A play reading was held to raise funds for the local Health Centre
A complete stranger appeared on the doorstep
A chance encounter on a bus
A tiny group of young residents who enjoyed theatre discovered others who shared their interest
Is this a scenario for a mystery novel or perhaps a play?
It is how Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group - STAG - began! 

The people involved in these events arranged to meet at the Bruce Street home of Mary and Ron Little to discuss their interest in theatrical affairs. Mary and Ron were members of the Williamstown Little Theatre. Others attending were lvy and Kevin Walker, associated with Northcote Theatre Company, Nell and Ron Caldwell, Jim Clumsee, and Irma Jackson.

At this point it is worth mentioning that in the area at this time, the only theatrical activity was provided by the Northern Light Opera Company, based in Moonee Ponds. As its name indicates, this organisation provided musical comedy productions, and it was felt that there was a need for a wider coverage of theatre. After all, not everybody could sing in tune! By the way, television had still to enter our homes and very few people owned cars.

With a view to starting a local Drama Group, the Bruce Street meeting decided to begin activities with a Rehearsed Play-reading "George and Margaret", held at the Caldwell's home in Kernan Street. The response was enthusiastic, attendees being family, friends and neighbours and the "Essendon Gazette" was contacted to publicise our activities. This resulted in new members - I recall Idris Jones, Margaret Walsh, Greta Pickering and Norah ("Mopsy") Horlock, among others. Jack Russel joined us about this time and for some years he and Ron Little alternated as Director.

It was suggested at our inaugural meeting that the group be called "Strathmore Theatrical Arts Group" which would enable is to encompass all aspects of theatrical activities. While this name did not appeal to all, the acronym STAG sounded good and was easy to remember - so it has remained over all these years.

A committee was formed, a constitution framed and adopted and we were on our way. The fledgling group staged its first production "And This Was Odd" at St. John's Presbyterian Church hall in Essendon. This venue was used by STAG for our first three plays, until the Strathmore Community Hall was built later. My lasting memory of the time spent at St. John's is frenetic, youthful, energetic enthusiasm. We could afford to pay rental for one night apart from performances, so Dress Rehearsal was conducted while the set was put up around us and lighting / sound facilities were set up.

The cast had difficulties remembering lines, while adjusting to entrances / exits, which were constantly changing. I am sure that the Construction and Technical Crew (same people really) and Ron Little as Director did not actually relish the challenge.

Apart from the actual productions, all activities were conducted in the homes of Committee members - rehearsals and monthly social activities such as play-readings, sherry nights and charades ... all of which helped to raise money for our continuing theatrical ventures. Finance was always needed to pay for expensive necessities such as authors' royalties, hall rental, costumes, sets, printing, postage, etc.

Soon after our inauguration we received an invitation to join the newly-formed Strathmore Community Association. A Community Hall was to be built in Loeman Street, Strathmore by the Broadmeadows Council, and participating groups would share use of this facility. They were, of course, expected to share in administration / upkeep responsibilities. Many of our members worked hard to ensure that this multi-functional hall could be utilised as a theatre for our productions. When the building was completed, we at last had a home, although shared with Guides, Brownies, Youth Groups, Judo Classes and the Kindergarten. Much juggling was needed to ensure that rehearsal and production dates fitted in with the other groups' commitments.

Over the years, the other groups either dissolved or moved elsewhere, now only STAG and the Kindergarten remain and the space has been successfully partitioned. We have been able to turn our section into a theatre and, with the addition of curtains and carpets, it functions very well.

Despite many difficulties over the years, we grew - not just one play a year, but for some years we managed four Productions plus a Pantomime and a season of One Act Plays to a Teenage Production. In this way we fostered new actors, and directors, which has been very pleasing. Over the years, many artists have passed through our group - technicians, actors, directors, workers and supporters, giving freely of their talents and enthusiasm for one year, five years, ten or twenty years - and some have been with us for our entire history. We thank them all - without their support we could not have survived or grown.

We have endeavoured to present a varied program each year. To this end, we have produced the works of classical authors - Meliere, Wilde, Shaw, Sophocles, Coward - together with contemporary playwrights such as Williamson, Rayson, Ayckbourne, Simon. Melodramas, Pantomimes, Music Hall have all been part of our repertoire.

We shall continue with the successful, exciting and innovative productions - with audience support - for another 40-plus years, thereby fulfilling our original intention ... to provide artistic and theatrical enjoyment to our community and the opportunity to participate in these activities.

Irma V. Jackson
(Original found-member and member of the Committee until she passed away in 2005)

First Plays

  1. And This Was ODD directed by Ron Little
  2. Deliver My Darling directed by Ron Little
  3. Here We Come Gathering
  4. Blythe Spirit
  5. Poison Pen directed by Ron Little
  6. Death Takes a Holiday directed by Ron Little
  7. Murder Out Of Tune
  8. Simon and Laura directed by Ron Little
  9. The Barretts of Wimpole Street directed by Ron Little
  10. The Blue Goose
  11. Someone Waiting directed by Ron Little
  12. You Canít Take It With You directed by Ron Little
  13. Harvey
  14. Appointment With Death directed by Ron Little
  15. The Holly and the Ivy