KLT Celebrating 60 Years – Part 1
(For Part 2 click here)
Kuwait Little Theatre is an amateur dramatic society supported by the Kuwait Oil Company. It was established in 1948 and has staged productions over 60 annual seasons. Membership is open to all who are willing to work towards the society’s objective of providing a variety of events for the enjoyment of those interested in theatre.
The first recorded theatrical activity in Kuwait’s oil era dates back to 1947 when a group of Kuwait Oil Company employees met in the old Magwa Club and called themselves “The KUOCO Independent Players”.
Their first production in 1948 was staged in a large nissen hut located in the Ahmadi Industrial Area. Rehearsals were usually held in the producer’s or a member’s home. As the building was also the local cinema the sets were often built and painted out in the open and then assembled on stage at the last minute
In 1950 KOC provided the group with a small hut next to the cinema with a mere 18 inch high platform serving as a stage. The hut was so small that it came to be known as Kuwait Little Theatre. Two years later the group moved to larger premises, (the former KOC food store known as Spinney’s on Main Street), and this nissen hut has gone on to become the permanent home of ‘Kuwait Little Theatre.’
Over a period of almost forty years the theatre built up an impressive foyer, large backstage facilities and improved the seating, air conditioning, stage lighting and sound equipment as well as boasting a revolving stage. Together with an impressive wardrobe and props collection the society was able to produce virtually any play in a professional manner.
With the generous help of KOC and the hard work and support of its many members the theatre thrived. It was run on similar lines to most amateur dramatic societies throughout Please Take Your Seats!the world. The choice of events was not limited and performances were given of British, American, French and German plays. These included musicals, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, pantomimes, farces, dramas and comedies.
Theatricals in the Gulf Area were little known in those early days and consequently productions of KLT. were taken to Iraq’ Bahrain and Beirut, thereby making the name of ‘Kuwait Little Theatre’ quite famous. The Kuwait community, Ahmadi families and KOC personnel and management alike were proud of their ‘Little Theatre’. and made a point of taking out-of-State visitors to the theatre if a performance was running.
In 1990 the KLT facilities were ransacked by Iraqi invaders who smashed and destroyed almost everything stealing whatever they felt was worthwhile – including KLT’s prized pantomime camel! The building was not officially entered for almost three years until 1993 when an Explosive Ordnance Clearance certificate was issued and a small band of volunteers commenced cleaning up the devastation.Backstage
Despite the incredible amount of waste and vandalism that had occurred the team managed to salvage an assortment of costumes, props, musical scores and play scripts. The work was dusty and dangerous. Live ammunition was discovered but the determined group persevered in their aim of re-building what was once the “best little theatre in town”.
An extraordinary general meeting was held in February 1994 and a new committee elected to manage the ongoing affairs of Kuwait Little Theatre. By November of the same year the curtains opened once again on the KLT stage and a production of ‘She Stoops To Conquer’ re-launched the theatre.
Since its re-launch in 1994 the theatre has grown back to full strength, providing full, annual seasons of productions and social events for its rapidly growing membership. Once again the variety that existed pre-invasion is back on the theatrical menu and productions of The Rock Musical, “Buddy”, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph” have appeared alongside traditional pantomimes, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado”, Neil Simon comedies and classic dramas by the likes of Albee and Ibsen.
Kuwait Little Theatre is growing stronger with every passing season. Today, over 60 years on from its humble, nissen hut, beginnings, it is firmly re-established as the busiest as well as best ‘Little Theatre’ in Kuwait.