THE OLD TALISMAN THEATRE THE NEW TALISMAN THEATRE
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TALISMAN THEATRE BY PETER JAMES
The Talisman was not Kenilworth's first
dramatic society; that honour goes to the Kenilworth Players in
1932; they became The Priory Theatre in 1946.
In fact, The Talisman was not even conceived as a Kenilworth organisation at first, but as a playreading group that started at the Rover Company in 1940.
Only in 1942, following Coventry blitz, when the Rover drawing office moved out to Chesford Hotel, was the connection with the town made.
The young men and women who formed the bulk of the group were in reserved occupations, Rover having been converted to war work.
As luck would have it the wife of Charlie Randle, owner of the tannery in Warwick Road, was a keen theatregoer and she persuaded her husband to allow the group to convert an old skin store into a little theatre for a peppercorn rent.
The adaptation went ahead, using timber salvaged from Coventry bomb sites, and by October 1942 the Rover Players were ready to stage their first play.
A public competition to determine the theatre's name resulted in "Talisman"; chosen in acknowledgement of the town's Walter Scott connection.
The membership became increasingly focussed on Kenilworth, as opposed to Rover, and in 1944 the Company took the name of the building, becoming The Talisman Theatre Company.
In 1964 the tannery site was redeveloped to create Talisman Square and the old theatre was lost.
It took five years to raise funds to establish the new theatre, which opened in February 1969.
From the first production to the latest (No.679 and rising) an archive has been maintained that preserves programmes, photographs, reviews etc. of each production - a unique record.
Those wishing to read a fuller history of the theatre's first 50 years can find it in "A Maker of Magic", a copy of which is lodged in the local library.
Information on the Talisman Theatre:-