The Theatrical Guild has an illustrious history of helping people in theatre who have found themselves in times of need.
Mrs C L Carson
In 1891, the celebrated actress Kitty Carson gathered together a group of fellow actresses in her house in Great Russell Street.
“…I have been very grieved to hear of many sad cases of distress among our sisters in the profession…”
And so the Theatrical Ladies Guild (TLG) was founded with Kitty Carson as Hon. Treasurer and the actress Fanny Brough as President.
The TLG expanded very quickly. The need was great. Kitty’s Busy Bees met weekly making clothes for new born babies whose actress mothers had been thrown out of work whilst on tour, through pregnancy, illness and abandoned with no means of support. The cast off clothing department was for actors and actresses who had to supply their own stage costumes.
The Stage Needlework Guild, a branch of the TLG, had Sewing Bee branches in Edinburgh and Hull. Fundraising was and still is, vital. Magnificent, glittering occasions were held regularly as well as fundraising matinees, all supported by the aristocracy and royalty. AGMs held in West End theatres were standing room only. They were given huge press coverage.
At the 1936 AGM, Irene Vanburgh (president for 36 years), praised
“…stage hands, dressers, those employed in the front of house of the theatre: in fact, all that great army of unseen workers who administer to the amusement of the public.”
In 2001, the name was changed to The Theatrical Guild, to promote the fact that the charity was there for men as well as women, though almost since the beginning, men, women and their children came under its care.
In 2016, there is less need for tickets for bread and coal, but more for counselling, retraining and short term financial help in light of the government cuts to the industry.
somewhere to turn to in times of need