My name is Margaret Ormrod and I’m the president of Neath Little Theatre. There was more rationing after the war than there was during the war and things were more difficult as far as clothes were concerned and food; but you didn’t have very much. We still were on short rations and everything was difficult.
But of course it all began to come right again because all the factories were going; everything was happening. People were in employment so there was money in Neath now. And that made a difference. All the factories, even Ystradgynlais, were starting to bring young men into the area. If you’ve got young men you’ll get the young women. They used to come very often come to the theatre. We had a lot of people at that time, so we could do different plays and the one play that stands out in my memory of that is Madame Tic-Tac where she was blind and deaf and there was a young woman who was quite high up in the tax office actually in Neath. She was playing a prostitute in it and our own members absolutely sabotaged that play before it ever got on in the Gwyn Hall.
Now we had started to think about building a theatre before the war and where the new Civic Centre is now, we purchased the land and there was going to be a 400-seated theatre there. When the war came the council did a compulsory purchase order on that piece of land and we lost it.
After the war, we start to look for land. The only thing you could have was agricultural buildings. A lot of people don’t even know where Westernmoor Road are and for years we were not allowed to have the name outside the theatre. We had a little small plaque by the letterbox. It’s only very lately that we’ve had that big sign up.
I met my husband, David Ormrod, in Neath Little Theatre. He had come from Cheltenham. He was looking for a theatre company to join. Well he came to see Forced Landing in the Gwyn Hall. As soon as he came to the theatre he was put into a play immediately, Berkeley Square, and that is really where we met. We played opposite each other and there is a story about him having to present me with a bracelet on the stage out of his costume and we couldn’t find it in the pockets and I remember putting my hand in the pockets and right down the lining of the coat to find the bracelet to bring out. We never looked back after that. We were married within 6 months. A lot of people met like that and that is what we haven’t got now.
The Second World War brought many changes to people’s lives. It changed the whole pattern of our existence really. In many ways, with all the rebuilding of things that had been bombed to start off with, but also rebuilding our artistic and cultural lives that had rather gone down in the war.
What happened was that the plays began to change. We had started off with very big ideas about doing modern plays and so on but we were coming to watershed really where the ordinary little play, which we used to call a silver teapot play, was becoming boring and people wanted something more. We did Look Back in Anger which is absolutely a kitchen sink watershed for drama in the country.