Highbury Theatre Centre

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Highbury Theatre Centre
Address Sheffield Road
Type Amateur Theatre

140 (Main Stage)

40+ (Studio)
Opened 1942

Highbury Theatre Centre is an amateur theatre situated in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, England.


Highbury theatre

Highbury Theatre (formerly Highbury Little Theatre) is one of the oldest, established amateur theatres in Birmingham, having being formed in 1924 with members who were until 1935 producing plays in local church halls.[1][2] The company was originally called the Erdington ILP Play-reading Circle, and when they first began putting on plays they rehearsed in the home of the founder, John English's house; which was called Highbury (from which the Highbury Players subsequently took their name when it was changed in 1928). In 1935, they decided to build, almost entirely on their own, their own theatre. It was through dedication and without financial aid or patronage; that they began the construction of the theatre and its traditions and helped lay the foundations of what the theatre is today. Amongst the founding group was John English, OBE [3] (1911-1998), who, with others, had the vision to form the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain of which Highbury was a founder member, alongside The Crescent Theatre and The Questors Theatre with 6 other companies. John consequently went on to co-found The Midlands Arts Centre [4][5] and the Arena Theatre Company [6] along with his wife Mollie Randle.

The Theatre was fortunate enough to have amongst its Patrons Sir Barry Jackson, Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Sir John Mellor, 2nd Baronet alongside fifteen other influential people in both the local community and the theatrical community.

Highbury Theatre Centre officially opened on 22 May 1942 [7] with George Bernard Shaw's 'Arms and the Man' and has since then continually produced a season of plays for the last 73 years. The theatre and its programme are constantly being altered [8] for a 21st Century audience.


The theatre's resident company is, The Highbury Players who during the course of a 10 month season; put on 7 Main Stage productions and 3 Studio plays.[9] The plays are chosen by an elected Arts Committee and aim to continue the Highbury tradition of having within every season; an English Classic, an International Classic and a play connecting the theatre with our own times, amongst both classic and modern plays. The theatre is one of two major amateur companies that operate in the Sutton Coldfield area, the other being Sutton Arts Theatre who have close ties with Highbury both historically and personally. All plays staged at the theatre are reviewed by the online reviewers Behind the Arras [10] who employ retired, professional theatre journalists to critique each production. Each year, plays are nominated for the BFAME Awards, which Highbury has either won or been nominated for every year.[11]


The theatre is a registered charity [12] and is run entirely by a 160+ team of dedicated volunteers who are involved in many aspects from acting, directing, set design, costume, front of house amongst numerous other opportunities.[13] The theatre is a valuable asset to the local and wider community; with various events and art exhibitions [14] taking place there throughout the year. In late 2013, the theatre decided to resurrect one of the original theatre's ideas from 1943 - 1956, the Highbury Film Club.[15] Working alongside the British Film Institute and the British Federation of Film Societies. This became a permanent fixture in 2014, now being included in the theatre's 73rd season.

Other facilities[edit]

The theatre is also home to Highbury Youth Theatre, which gives local children the chance to experience performing in front of an audience, as well as developing their skills and confidence. Members are given the opportunity to work towards LAMDA examinations should they wish and have access to the National Association of Youth Theatres' workshops.[16]


  1. ^ "Birmingham Stage - The Highbury Little Theatre". BBC. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  2. ^ Mollie Randle & Noel Sherwood (1963). Highbury Theatre Centre: Sixteen Years After. Highbury Theatre Centre. p. 3. 
  3. ^ "Midland Arts Centre and Highbury Theatre founder; OBITUARY. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. 1999-01-01. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  4. ^ "History". mac birmingham. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  5. ^ "mac birmingham | The Big Give". Secure.thebiggive.org.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  6. ^ "Proposal for a Midlands Arts Centre for Young People". Search.connectinghistories.org.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  7. ^ "Highbury Little Theatre". The Theatres Trust. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  8. ^ "Planning Application 2012/04495/PA, Highbury Theatre Centre Sheffie... :: Birmingham City Council :: Openly Local". Assets.openlylocal.com. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  9. ^ "Birmingham and district theatre guild: group members' profile". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  10. ^ "Reviews By Affiliates". Behindthearras.com. 1916-07-17. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  11. ^ Mail, Birmingham (2014-03-03). "Your Communities: Theatre Gongs". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  12. ^ "Highbury Theatre Centre Limited". OpenCharities. 2013-11-10. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  13. ^ "The Venue - Avenue Q at The Highbury Theatre Centre". Avenueq.org. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  14. ^ Mail, Birmingham (2008-03-18). "Artist to exhibit work at Highbury Theatre Centre". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  15. ^ "Highbury Little Theatre - Sutton Coldfield. Youth Theatre". Highburytheatre.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  16. ^ MDK Web & Media Ltd. "Youth Theatre: Youth Theatre: Highbury Youth Theatre - Highbury Youth Theatre - National Association of Youth Theatres". Nayt.org.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 

External links[edit]