The Questors Archive logo

by David Grey and
Avery Hopwood

The Park Theatre, Hanwell
November 1929


Directed by Alec Payne



Margaret Browne, Isobel Browne, Frank Cockburn, Phil Elliott, Alfred Emmet, Frank Emmet, Norah Hadley, Guy Hadley, Heather Hobson, P Miskin, John Regan, John Ruck, Barbara Sharp, Hilda Simpson

Production Team:
Alec Payne, Isobel Browne

extract from
The Story of The Questors Theatre (1929-1989)
by Gwenan Evans et al

On September 5th, 1929, a new theatre group was formed in Ealing, having 17 members and a bank balance of 7s.11½d. The group comprised half a dozen or so enthusiastic young people, who had previously acted together in various local productions, and a number of their friends who had been persuaded to join them. The aim was merely to enable the friends to act together more regularly and more often.

Alfred Emmet, a founder member, recalls:

Actually, being all very young at the time, we had very big ideas. A dramatic society was to be only one part of a larger new local organisation, and so we solemnly christened ourselves ‘The Ealing Junior Arts Club (Dramatic Section)’. This was of course a great impertinence on our part because it was done without any reference to the well-established and active Ealing Arts Club which, not unnaturally, took considerable exception. So the name had to be changed, and at an historic meeting over lunch in a Soho Restaurant one Sunday in November, it was decided, for no particular reason except that by the coffee stage no-one had thought of anything better, to change the name to ‘The Questors’.”

The name was actually the brainwave of Alec Payne, the group’s first producer, and it came well before any policy was formulated, although the society very quickly began to live up to its name...

So it was under this title that the group gave, on November 19th, 1929, the first of two performances of its first production, The Best People by David Grey and Avery Hopwood, at the Park Theatre in Hanwell. The names of those original 17 members of the group, most of whom were involved in this production in some capacity or other, are listed below as they appear in the first Minute Book:

Mr Alec Payne
Miss M R Browne
Miss B Sharp
Miss H Hobson
Miss L Hobson
Mr S Low
Miss V Low
Mr G Hadley
Mrs Alec Payne

Mr J D Ruck
Mr A E J Emmet
Miss I Browne
Mr F Cockburn
Mr P Elliott
Miss R Elliott
Miss Simpson
Mr E R Emmet

Alec Payne was appointed the group’s Producer, Alfred Emmet its Honorary Secretary and John Ruck its Business Manager.

Again from that first Minute Book comes this reference to the plans for the first production, which will help to set the scale of the enterprise in context:

The Business Manager is authorised to advertise The Best People, save that he is not authorised to incur expenditure exceeding £1 without further reference to the Committee.

It is worth noting that the Committee eventually ratified expenditure of the princely sum of £2/19/- !