Fools Rush In
By Kenneth Horne
21st to 23rd February 1957
Mrs. Coot, daily woman
Mrs. Mandrake, housekeeper
Angela, Pam's mother
Charles, Angela's fiancé
Paul, uninvited guest
Assistant Stage Manager
Phyllis G. Dadd
In recent months a great deal of criticism has been levelled at Scunthorpe Corporation because of their proposal to build a Civic Theatre. Naturally enough this Society welcomes the opportunity of presenting plays with all the amenities and comfort of a modern theatre, but there is much more to it than this purely personal reaction.
Let us for a moment dwell on the growth of this town of ours – a rapid, mushroom-like growth at an almost incredible speed. In a comparatively short time Scunthorpe has become an important and prosperous place; a village has become a town, fields transformed into housing estates, lanes widened into roads. Schools, pubs and shops spring up almost overnight to meet the demands of the rapidly increasing population.
Of course, in such a swift development domestic needs had to come first, but during the last few years more and more emphasis has been put on the wider, and less tangible aspect of things ethereal, and material. Appreciation of the arts is not for sale in the shops, but is surely as necessary for the mind as food and clothing for the body. There is a school of thought which believes that governments, local and national, have a duty to the people in giving a lead in this direction. Obviously the local Council share that view, for the post-war years have seen the development in the town of public parks, the library and the museum, to mention but a few. The proposal to erect a civic theatre is a natural continuation of that policy.
So much for views: what of the criticism? That the end will not justify the expense; that an extra burden will be put on the rates; that, in view of the economic situation, the proposal is untimely; that the professional theatre is in a decline. Now, as already stated culture is not a matter of pounds, shillings and pence, nor indeed can it be weighed or measured, let it suffice to say that there is a genuine need for the theatre: all minorities are entitled to consideration. Further, the Council have said that the sum of £15,000 is already available, and the balance will come from public and private subscriptions – not from rates. As for the timing, there will always be those among us who would delay benefits for one reason or another; if they had had their way such things as state education, the National Health Service, and old-age pensions would still be plans in pigeon holes. Finally the question of professional theatres. It is not denied that all over the country theatres are being closed down, but it is also a fact that the amateur drama movement in this country has never been stronger, and Scunthorpe is no exception to the rule.
In conclusion this Society wishes to congratulate the Council on its foresight and enlightenment, and urges its patrons to give wholehearted support to the proposal.