Welcome to this comprehensive listing of every play presented by the Progressive Players amateur drama company since its founding by Ruth Dodds in 1920.
(You can access the company's main website, "littletheatregateshead.co.uk", by clicking on the PP logo at the top of the screen.)
Based on the company's Diamond Jubilee Celebration Booklet published in 1980, this list also draws on information from the scrapbooks of Ruth Dodds, the Progressive Players photograph albums, playscripts, several internet drama database websites, and Maureen Callcott's biography of Ruth Dodds, “Pilgrimage Of Grace”.
The plays are listed by year, in order of presentation.
In the company’s early days it was common for plays to be performed at several venues, especially those written by Progressive Players members themselves. Ruth Dodds’ own work, “The Pitman’s Pay”, is a prime example of this. There are entries for each separate production for which we have rediscovered documentary evidence. Since October 1943 almost all productions have been performed at the Little Theatre, Gateshead.
One-Act Plays have formed a significant part of the output of the Progressive Players, and these have been included in this list, as have the productions presented by the youth groups formed within the company over the years. Not included, however, are excerpts or sketches from plays, nor are performances for members-only audiences.
Each entry shows details of play title, author, production dates, and a very brief synopsis. Character names are not included, unless representative of actual historical figures. Unfortunately, a number of plays performed in the company’s early years have become rather obscure, so some information is still lacking. Research is ongoing, so watch this space!
To the left of each entry comes a set of statistics about the production. As an example, the line:
“PP 868 Play 680 LT 728”
tells you that the play - 'The Steamie' in 2010 - was the 868th to be produced by the Progressive Players, and the company’s 680th new play, ie never having been done by the company before. If a play has been done before, the Play number will be omitted and the year of the previous production or productions will be shown in parentheses below the synopsis. (For instance, the play "Dangerous Corner" was most recently presented in 2000, with previous productions in 1988 and 1966.) Finally, 'The Steamie' was the 728th to be presented in the Little Theatre since its opening in 1943.
Some entries will also include a short italicised comment or note of interest, such as details of adaptations, festival participations, etc.
The system we have used for Play Type is necessarily simplistic. Inevitably there will be some differences of opinion about what “type” a play is; whilst many Dramas and Thrillers have humorous moments, they are not regarded as Comedies. By the same token many Comedies and Comedy Thrillers have their serious, even tragic, aspects. Our intention has therefore been to show the overall flavour of the play, rather than get bogged down into “sub-types”. The five types used herein are Drama, Comedy, Thriller, Comedy-Thriller, and Pantomime.
Plays receiving their world premiere performance will be so indicated by the phrase "First Performance Of A New Play".
Accompanying most entries are thumbnail images of the play programme (showing the cast and production team lists) and one or more production photos. Clicking on a thumbnail will bring up an enlarged image. Unfortunately we have no photos or programmes from the 1920's!
Following the main listing are two A-Z indexes, the first giving an alphabetical listing of plays together with years of production, and the second being a listing of authors whose plays we have presented.
We hope you enjoy browsing through this roundup of Progressive Players history.