History of the Seletar Theatre Club
On Monday 22 August 1949, a group of 22 people met under the chairmanship of Group Captain Morse, and decided to form a Theatre Club. Policy and rules for the running of the club were agreed to. The first committees’ decision was that they wanted a club properly equipped with a bar and rehearsal rooms with decent furnishings and a bar. They hoped that by having such a club would encourage members to spend more of their spare time at the club, and treat it almost as second home. They were, as years went by, to be proved entirely right.
The Club was officially opened by the Base Commander on Thursday, 17th November 1949. Problems of accommodation, furnishings and, most important of all, finance arose. These were, however, quickly resolved.
As with all new organisations, the club had its’ teething problems The most significant of these was the decision to form two groups. The Selastra Players were the Drama group and The Selastrians the Variety Group. The two groups under the same roof created an atmosphere of discomfort which let to strained relationships. Needless to say, not long after their separation they were reunited and, once again, became The Seletar Theatre Club.
From the 17th November 1949 to February 1957, the Club had to use an old nissen hut which had previously served a long and useful life as the Malcolm Club. During these seven and a half years they suffered many problems in their efforts to obtain better accommodation. All productions were performed in the Astra cinema, which presents its’ own special problems as each production had to be rehearsed in one building and presented in another.
The early members can be justly proud of themselves, because, during these very difficult years, they produced and presented no less than 28 productions.
By 1951, the Nissen hut was in a bad state of repair and self help only just managed to keep it in reasonable condition. However, in 1954 things got really desperate when the Astra Announced that it was to introduce Cinemascope, which would almost certainly prohibit the future use of the cinema for productions. Several suggestions were made, including the use of a hanger at West Camp, and the complete renovation of the Nissen hut. The latter meant, virtually, the demolition of the nissen hut and starting from scratch, which would be very costly.
It took another three years of frustration before achieving the final aim – a dedicated building. They were promised four walls and a roof. That was what they got but they were happy, very happy. The first production ‘Night Must Fall’ was staged in the new theatre on February 18th 1957. Since then the club never looked back and carried out many improvements to those original austere premises. The rate of production jumped from four plays a year to a very high number of seven, and sometimes eight.
The Services Drama Festival was introduced in 1961, which invested into the club a spirit of competition, which makes any undertaking much more exiting. Spirit was sky high when, in 1962, The Seletar Theatre Club won with the Play J.B by Archibald Macleish, which was produced by Juliana Goss.
The Club did not rest on their Laurels and, in the following ten months staged seven productions ranging from heavy drama to the lightest comedy.
Preparations for the 1963 Festival were in full swing when disaster stuck. In the afternoon of 6th August 1963 fire destroyed everything inside the Theatre and only the shell was left.