Dryburn Theatrical Workshop is an enthusiastic amateur theatre group, based in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, which has been performing for 40 years. We perform a pantomime in January, a musical in June and a play in September.
We have over 50 members, aged 11 and upwards. As a group, we bring together an eclectic mix of talented local people, keen to learn and entertain. We are passionate about the group and its members, who many regard as family, and putting on professional-standard productions.
We rehearse on Monday and Wednesday evenings in Chester-le-Street, as well as enjoying various fundraising and social events throughout the year, including after-show parties, picnics, theatre trips, seasonal parties, fairs and even an annual group weekend away.
Dryburn Theatrical Workshop was founded in 1978 by Edith Carvill (the then Supplies Manager for Durham Hospitals), and a small but enthusiastic group of staff based in Dryburn Hospital in Durham City.
The productions started off as small-scale revues and pantomimes, and were rehearsed and performed in the hall of the staff social club. The hall had a small stage and no changing rooms, so the group members made use of a borrowed local scout marquee in which to dress for the productions. Any profit made from the productions was given back to the hospital in the form of donations of equipment to wards.
As membership expanded and changes within the hospital took place, the decision was made to move rehearsals to a local community centre, and the productions to Park View Theatre in Chester-le-Street, which is where the group continues to stage its performances to this day. Dryburn Hospital was later demolished and replaced by the University Hospital of North Durham, but the group membership agreed to maintain its roots and keep the original name as a mark of respect to Edith, its founder.
Although none of the founder members still perform with the group today, there are still members with almost 40 years service who remember the “marquee days” and the humble beginnings of a now thriving group who perform not only pantomimes, but also full-scale musical productions with over fifty dedicated and passionate members.