Following the announcement of victory in Europe in the Second World War, The Stage looked back on the conflict’s impact on British theatre.
“Never before in the history of this country has the dramatic art been faced with problems of the character forced upon it by the tremendous upheaval now happily over in this part of the world,” reported our correspondent. “In London particularly, but to some extent also in those provincial cities and towns which received the attentions of the Luftwaffe, artists and audiences have been faced with adventures and dangers unparalleled in the plays presented on the professional side of the footlights.
“A comprehensive picture of the situation outside London cannot be attempted here. All that need be said is that although grievous damage was sustained in some places, over the greater part of the country the drama prospered as never before in its history, and the millions who before knew literally nothing of the living stage have been now awakened to at least some awareness of its delights and thrills.
“But the London story is very different. In the capital wholly unprecedented rises and falls in the theatrical temperature have occurred. There were three periods of crisis. At the very beginning of the war all places of amusement – and this applied to the whole country – were closed under the orders of a government expecting vast scale and immediate enemy raids. Such a closure had never happened before since Cromwell’s time – except perhaps for a day or so on the demise of the Crown. It is never likely to happen again…”
For more from The Stage Archive, visit thestage.co.uk/archive