Shropshire History


Cinemas & Theatres


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Theatre of some kind has probably been in existence since our Stone Age ancestors performed dances to emulate the killing of animals for food. The first instance of theatre as we know it was with the Ancient Greeks, where it is believed to have developed in Athens. There were three types of drama, ie tragedy, comedy, and the satyr play. The Romans loved theatre as well and a number of tragedies and comedies were written during this time. They introduced it to Britain when they invaded.


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During the Dark and Middle Ages, theatre was provided by troupes of travelling actors called “Mummers”. Many of their plays had a religious or moral basis. A troupe typically consisted of 13-14 members, with everyone taking a share of the profits roughly equivalent to the size of their role. Static theatres became popular during the Elizabethan period, William Shakespeare becoming famous for his plays held at the Globe Theatre in London.

Typical Elizabethan Open Air Theatre


By the late 19th Century, there were theatres in most cities and towns and one off-shoot from this was the music hall. This provided light entertainment for working class people who could not afford the cost of mainstream theatres. Another development during the 19th Century was the magic lantern show. Magic lanterns used a glass lens, a shutter and a powerful lamp to project images from glass slides onto a white wall or screen.


In 1894, Louis and Auguste Lumière produced a film called “Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon”, which is considered to be the first true motion picture. From 1894 to the late 1920s, movie theatres showed silent films that were accompanied by a pianist or organist to provide atmosphere. The first known film with sound was exhibited in Paris in 1900 but it was to be many more years before sound motion pictures were made commercially practical. By the 1920s, the first sound films incorporating synchronized dialogue were shown but these were shorts. The first full length talkie was “The Jazz Singer”, released in October 1927.


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Cinemas became popular and the multi-view cinema was introduced whereby several films could be seen at the same time. By the 1990s, cinema attendance began to drop with the advent of home videos and many closed.


Gazetteer of Theatres and Cinemas


Bishop’s Castle - Teme Sparc Theatre

Brampton Rd, Bishops Castle SY9 5AY


Bridgnorth - Majestic

Whitburn Street, Bridgnorth WV16 4QP


Bridgnorth - Theatre on the Steps

Stoneway Steps, Bridgnorth WV16 4BD


Ludlow - Assembly Rooms

1 Mill Street, Ludlow SY8 1AZ


Market Drayton - Festival Drayton Centre

Frogmore Road, Market Drayton TF9 3AX


Oswestry - Attfield Theatre Company

The Guildhall, Bailey Head, Oswestry SY11 1PZ


Oswestry - Kinokulture Cinema

9 Arthur St, Oswestry SY11 1JN


Shifnal - Kaleidoscope Theatre

Kemberton Hall, Kemberton, Shifnal TF11 9LH


Shrewsbury - Ashton Theatre

Shrewsbury School, Kingsland, Shrewsbury SY3 7BA


Shrewsbury - Cineworld

Old Potts Way, Shrewsbury SY3 7ET


Shrewsbury - Old Market Hall

The Square, Shrewsbury SY1 1LH


Shrewsbury - Theatre Severn

Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8FT


Telford - Cineworld

Southwater Square, Telford TF3 4HS


Telford - Oakengates Theatre

19 Limes Rd, Telford TF2 6EP


Telford - Odeon

Forgegate, Telford TF3 4NE


Tenbury Wells - Regal

Teme Street, Tenbury Wells WR15 8AA


Wellington - Belfry Theatre

Prince's St, Wellington, Telford TF1 1JG


Wem - Town Hall

28-32 High St, Wem, Shrewsbury SY4 5DG


Whitchurch - Talbot Theatre

Heath Rd, Whitchurch SY13 2BY