Chapter One: The Founders

The company was founded in 1960 by a group of experienced players on the Glasgow amateur musical circuit. These like minded individuals were disenchanted by the lack of variety of musical productions performed in the city. At the time it seemed like there was endless repetition of the tried and tested musical formula involving an endless rehash of only a few different shows. The group agreed to form their own club and set out to perform new and rarely performed shows – the shows that the other clubs said “just couldn’t be done by amateurs”.

Their first task was to select a name for this pioneering company. They settled on the name “Theatre Guild – Amateur Musicals” taking inspiration from the world famous Theatre Guild of New York. For their first production they set out on the ambitious project to perform “South Pacific”. With it’s exotic locations, colourful costumes and complex orchestration this show had never before been performed by an amateur company in Glasgow. The show was performed in Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre in October 1960 and was a rousing success. Theatre Guild had set a new benchmark for amateur productions and so a bright new light had been lit on the Glasgow theatre scene!

One of the founder members of The Guild (as we quickly became known) was Billy Love who remains as our Honorary Life President to this day. Billy soon took on the pivotal roles of Producer and Choreographer for the club holding these positions for more than 3 decades! While the new club settled on a constitution which set a direct course for ‘adventure’ in the form of the uncharted waters of new and rarely performed musicals, Billy produced dozens of successful Glasgow, Scottish, British and even World Amateur Premiers. In fact, to this day Theatre Guild remain the only amateur club to have EVER performed a number of our ambitious premiers. The founders of Theatre Guild – Amateur Musicals should be truly proud that they achieved their aims to bring new shows to the audiences of Glasgow.

But all would not be plain sailing for The Guild. Towards the end of the 80’s, the club began to lose money on each show. The fantastic cost of each production (at that time in excess of £40,000) was forcing ticket prices to creep ever higher. Slowly the club found that audiences were less inclined to buy a ticket for a show that they perhaps had not heard of and certainly had not seen before. In addition, the King’s Theatre (at that time owned by Glasgow City Council) – which had been The Guild’s home for many years – announced a massive increase in rental costs. In January 1993, Chairman Jack Holmes called an Extrordinary General Meeting of all Theatre Guild members to break some very difficult news ….