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1965-1980

Scene from Kiss Me Kate

Scene from Kiss Me Kate

The last full stage production in the Playhouse theatre took place when SALOS (Swindon Amateur Light Operatic Society) presented Kiss Me Kate in 1970. The auditorium of the theatre had rows of leaded windows all requiring to be blacked out for each production and removed each night for safety purposes. The seating was flat on one level and the backstage facilities were almost non existant with no changing rooms or orchestra pit. This meant larger scale productions could no longer be effectively produced on the already deteriorating stage.

With the opening of the towns Wyvern Theatre in 1971 the Playhouse suffered the same fate at the Empire theatre which had closed some 16 years earlier and the theatre fell dark in late 1970.

The building itself was now used for sporting and recreational purposes. Parts of the building were already closed due to damp. The auditorium was being used for rehearsal purposes only but even this was being hampered by ever increasing requirement of new fire regulations. The last use of the auditorium for regular rehearsals was again by SALOS in 1980 for a production of Fiddler on the Roof performed at the towns Wyvern theatre later that year.

Guys and Dolls 1976

Members of SALOS in rehearsal for Guys and Dolls in 1976 at the Playhouse. By this point the auditorium alone was in use on the upper floor.

Guys and Dolls 1976

The leaded windows and rather primitive heating by modern standards can be clearly seen


Even at this time the auditorium was becoming difficult to work in due to increasing damp and fire hazards.

The lower floors of the building had now been converted into a large bar, snooker rooms and an air-pistol range. A small meeting room had been set aside for sporting association meetings but by 1980 this had been taken over as an overflow bar cellar.