The Northcote Dramatic Society
The Northcote Dramatic Society was formed in 1945, just after World War Two, by librarian and artistic patron Myrtle Fletcher, Cr. Alex Gray who was chairman of the committee of drama and ballet and Ella Denning who had run entertainment throughout the war years. The President of the Northcote Dramatic Society was Frederick Gotardo Capp. He hosted monthly meetings at the Northcote Town Hall. Myrtle Fletcher was the Vice President. Their first play, Hay fever by Noel Coward, was performed in July 1946 at the Northcote Town Hall. The play was produced by Ella Denning who also played the part of Judith. Violinist Basil Farrell and a student orchestra performed the incidental music. This performance was followed by a mystery play 9.45 by Owen Davies and Sewell Collins performed at the Northcote Town Hall in November of the same year. The society put on two plays a year.
In November of 1947 the society performed Ivor Novello’s Fresh Fields at Northcote. The society would also host readings of plays society members had written. One such play was Girl Wanted, written by J Barber in 1948, a comedy which explored changing attitudes to bosses in the work place after the Second World War.
In 1948, the society acquired Paul Hill as producer and Max Robertson as secretary. Paul Hill’s first play with the society was Walter Hackett’s The Barton Mystery in November 1948. He continued to direct the plays of the Northcote Dramatic Society for many years.
At a packed meeting at the Northcote Town Hall in March 1955 the attendees were told the society had “arrived” and their plays had become “the done thing” to attend. There was an award ceremony whereby Gordon Little took the trophy for best actor, Jessie O’Connell took best actress and Shirley Donaldson and Stan Watt took most improved. In the 1955 meeting a bid for the society to have its own theatre was put forward. Although this was eventually unsuccessful, the society was very popular throughout the 1950s. Myrtle Fletcher remembered in an interview the night in their earlier years when a white cat welcomed itself on the stage of their performance of Quiet Weekend.
Amateur Theatres (2 July 1946), The Herald, p. 10
Backstage with the Dramatic Society (20 July, 1955), The Northcote Leader, p, 16
Enthusiasm at Northcote Dramatic Society: Drama – and theatre – is here to stay (9 March, 1955), The Northcote Leader, p. 1, p. 5
Fresh Fields at Northcote (20 November 1947), The Age, p. 12
Lively Farce at Northcote (9 May, 1952), The Age, p. 13
Melbourne Theatres (12 November 1946), The Herald, p. 13
Northcote Drama Groups Success (12 November, 1948), The Age, p. 2
Northcote Dramtic Society: Play Reading Prove Interesting (12 May, 1948), The Northcote Leader , p. 7
Retired, but still has key of the door (26 February, 1969), The Northcote Leader, p. 11
Thriller by the Northcote Group (7 December, 1951), The Age p. 4
Thriller Play at Northcote (24 August 1950), The Age, p.2