Dynamo Youth Theatre was the inspiration of local school teacher, Andrew Bowker and a group of parents whose children had taken part in the drama club and annual productions at Bosmere Junior School, Havant.
At that time, way back in 1981, there was very little opportunity in the Havant area for youngsters to continue to enjoy drama and develop their interest in the performing arts, after the age of 11. They decided to set up a Company operating from the newly opened Havant Arts Centre in East Street, Havant.
The inaugural Committee meeting was held on 18th May 1981: the Minutes were strictly functional…The Company was named Dynamo Youth Theatre by the members themselves after rejecting the alternative suggestions ‘The Flying Pigs’ and ‘East Street Kids’. Dynamo Youth Theatre was born!
Who amongst them could possibly have foreseen the tremendous impact and success that Dynamo Youth Theatre has enjoyed since its foundation, that it would last more than 40 years and that Andrew and some of the founding parents would still be involved.
|Formation of DYT. First production, The Alternative Channel,written and performed. Generally agreed to be ‘pretty dire’.
|First Christmas production – Oh! What a Lovely War. This show was performed again in 1994, with a completely different production style.
|Jesus Christ Superstar. John Gleadall made his Dynamo ‘debut’ as Musical Director when DYT were the first youth theatre in the country to perform this show, and has continued to be instrumental in the musical development of the Company. Difficult to believe in the 21st century, but DYT performing this musical led to picketing outside the Arts Centre by protesters who considered the show to be blasphemy. This attracted the local ITV news, giving DYT invaluable publicity.
|First 6th Form play, Charley’s Aunt. The September slot gives the 16 to 18 year olds the opportunity to perform a small cast play with much artistic and technical input.
|Zigger Zagger was the first production to have an external director – Anne Baillie, who later became Dynamo’s Artistic Director from 1989 to 1990
|First production of Oliver. May be remembered by several of the older Committee members for the short set up time available and friction at 2am while erecting the set. May have led to thisguidance bulletin being issued.
|Dynamo Seniors performed their first play, Deathtrap. Dynamo Seniors was formed to extend the age range of the group to 25 bringing us into line with the National Youth Theatre. The Seniors were relatively autonomous with a stated Artistic Policy ‘to present a high standard of dramatic entertainment which will appeal to a large cross-section of the public in the area’.
|The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first production of a children’s play. The make-up in this show, especially for the White Witch and Aslan, represented a major challenge for the back-stage crew.
|Tenth anniversary! Amongst other celebrations were an Anniversary Ball, a balloon race and members disco on a (rough) boat trip in the Solent.
|Heart in Hand was, sadly, the last production by Dynamo Seniors. By this time, most members were leaving at 18 to go to University or away on gap years and few returned to the area after graduation. The Seniors could not be sustained.
|Tyre Track Ted represented another innovation for Dynamo. Led by Kevin Mundye, the older members put together a play with a road safety message which was taken on the road and performed in local junior schools.
|July, a new show written specifically for DYT with music by Jon Headon and story and lyrics by Andrew Bowker, was premiered at the Arts Centre on 29th December 1992 with a formal black-tie evening. This show was such a success that the management of The Kings Theatre Southsea invited us to perform the show there.
|July at The Kings! Our first exciting exposure to a real theatre! Although the set had been kept from January, it had to be doubled in size – all in a day and a half. On 15th April 1993, an audience of 1200 (the largest audience at The Kings in a year) had an amazing evening and gave the cast an experience they will never forget.
|Second production of Oh! What a Lovely War and the debut for the ‘revolve’. For this production, we built a revolving stage which was powered by a large, strong young man, Steve, the Arts Centre technician. Winding this revolving stage around full of teenagers, with the numerous scene changes was a thirst-making experience and a hazard to Steve’s back!
|DYT supported a group of ex-members, led by Chris Hale, who formed themselves into an ad hoc company calling themselves The Dynamo Renegades and performed Accidental Death of an Anarchist during the Easter vacation from their first year at University. They came together the following Easter to perform the Victorian melodrama The Magistrate.
|The unprecedented step was taken of advertising for boys to join the company to provide the male cast members for West Side Story. Although most did not stay long after this show, it did enable an exciting and vibrant production of West Side Story.
|Further innovation with a modern dance production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, re-named The Hot Nutcracker. Persuading male teenagers, none of whom had any dance experience, that this was a cool way of spending their Christmas holidays remains one of Andrew Bowker’s triumphs.
|Our Day Out by Willy Russell whetted our appetite for Russell’s work. We are still hoping to do Blood Brothers sometime in the future..
|The 6th Form production of Bouncers and Shakers got us into trouble with some members of the audience over the language..
|A Mean Old Man, written by John Gleadall and previously performed by Purbrook Park School, was extended by John with additional dialogue from the DYT cast.
|A Mean Old Man performed at The Kings Theatre Southsea, DYT’s second visit to The Kings. Required a completely new set.
|Slide, put together through a series of improvised workshops, by Adrian D’Aubney who was Artistic Director for 7 months during 1997
|Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat performed at Warblington School because of copyright restrictions in performing in a public theatre. A glossy, glitzy performance which further broadened the cast’s experience with a different venue.
|Our Millennium production, Blitz by Lionel Bart, was popular with both cast and audience. It featured an innovative set, including a ‘brick’ wall which collapsed impressively as a climax in the final act.
|Accompanied by an exhibition, the 20th Anniversary Show started the celebrations for our 20th birthday. The final memorable evening was a wonderful reunion of ex-members from the last two decades, many of whom gave off-the-cuff testimonies to Dynamo at the end of the show.
|Frank Hunwick directed the 6th form in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, our first serious piece of drama for many years. Following the author’s recommendations for a minimal set to the letter, Frank was praised by both the audience and the set construction crew!
|One Pride One People was the second musical in our history to be written especially for Dynamo. With the research and story by Andrew Bowker and music and lyrics by John Gleadall, One Pride One People told the story of the people of Portsmouth in the years immediately after the First World War. The first night was again a black tie Gala premiere evening.
|One Pride One People virtually filled the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth for three nights. The thrust stage demanded innovative scenery; we used four large drums which were rotated when changes of scene demanded it. These, and two very large backdrops were expertly painted by Chris Durant. Unfortunately one of the backdrops failed to appear on the last night when Chris was present!
|Outside Edge. After failing to find a floor covering that looked like grass and met the fire regulations we decided on – real grass! It was watered daily and had the added benefit of olfactory realism. It was cheaper, too!
|On its third outing (after successful use in Oh! What a Lovely War and Confusions ) the revolve failed when a small metal pin in the winch sheared, leaving the stage in chaos on the first night ofLes Miserables. After an early interval, during which repairs were effected, the audience returned to a longer than usual second half.
|After a successful run in May at Havant Arts Centre, Our Day Out was performed again in St Faith’s church hall. Early doubts about audience numbers were dispelled when the show was a ‘sell-out’ and £550 was raised for St Faith’s.
|The get-in period for July at the Arts Centre was so short that we had to build and rehearse on the set at St Faith’s hall. The whole set was then struck and rebuilt in the Arts Centre theatre within one day. Another first!
|Our 25th Anniversary Show – a dance and drama spectacular, recalling many of our most successful productions was put together by no fewer than sixteen directors! The usual Saturday ‘last night’ was replaced by a very successful ‘black tie’ Anniversary Ball.
|Forty-five people turned up to the first production meeting for Tommy. Eventually over sixty helped in rehearsals and back-stage to put on this very complex show.
|Roses of Eyam: our first promenade production and first at St Faith’s church. No less than ten acting areas were used, three of them among the gravestones outside. External security problems, lights and sound innovations and audience movements were among the challenges successfully met. We were blessed by the only dry week in a very wet summer. Widely regarded as the most powerful drama by Dynamo to date.
|Pirates Of Penzance was Dynamo’s first thrust stage production, on a complex three-dimensional set in St Faith’s Hall. The cast found acting to an audience on three sides of them a novel experience.
|Old Mother Hubbard was our first pantomime and first production on a proscenium stage. Two milestones in one show!