THE OLD TALISMAN THEATRE                                          THE NEW TALISMAN THEATRE


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:-

  1. A book on the history of the first 50 years on the Theatre, by Peter James.
  2. A dvd on an early show (Dick Whittington), By Ben Hooper.
  3.  A dvd on the old theatre in Station Road and the building of the new Theatre in Barrow Road, by Ben Hooper.
  4. 2 & 3 above have been updated with a narration and soundtrack, by Peter James and Graham Gould. (To be shown at the Talisman Theatre on the 12th July 2013

Dick Whittington 1947

Grenville Payne (left); Harry Andrews (seated)

Talisman book for DVD

The new presentation book to go with dvd


Last Modified 22-03-2014