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The Magellan Dramatic Society (1924-c1955)  [Quotation]

… Another important British institution in Punta Arenas was the Magellan Dramatic Society. This was founded in 1924 after a very successful production by the family of Ernest Hobbs of Barrie's Quality Street. Previous to this, at odd times during the years various theatrical productions had been given, perhaps the most ambitious being the musical comedy The Runaway Girl in 1918 of which four performances took place before crowded houses. But the establishment of this society started regular performances every year, except in those years Dorothy and I went on leave to England. In every other year, certainly one and sometimes two productions were given during the winter months and this was invaluable in providing pleasant occupation for many young people when there wasn't much else to do. Excellent performances were given of Loyalties, Many Waters, Tilly of Bloomsbury, Laburnum Grove, Hay Fever, London Wall, The Late Christopher Bean, Alice in Wonderland and other plays, and during the last war [WW2], in order to attract larger audiences for the benefit of war charities, splendidly produced revues were presented. We gave the names to these of Good News, Take It or Leave It, and Take it Easy.

We were rather unprincipled, but, acting in the belief that the end justified the means, in producing these revues we stole the best items of any London revue we thought suitable, translated some of the sketches into Spanish and achieved great success and popularity.

Dorothy produced the shows and nothing less than a Chas. B. Cochran standard would satisfy. In these revues we would have a splendidly-drilled chorus of about twenty young girls beautifully attired, which, with several changes, meant over a hundred frocks all made by a Mrs. John Booth who would never charge for her services and would not even accept complimentary tickets to see the performances. An orchestra of fifteen (some of them professional musicians who gave their services under the direction of G. P. Brown) rendered superlative service. We gave two performances of each revue in the Municipal Theatre to audiences of about six hundred. These shows were quite the event of the year in Punta Arenas and were always attended by the Intendente and other leading Chilean officials.

Sometimes when we had a visiting cruiser we would put on a play, and I remember how very impressed Rear-Admiral Lane-Pool of H.M.S. Durban was when we staged London Wall in honour of his visit.

Mrs. Wilson Williams did yeoman service in arranging the dances, and in our plays we had some really talented actors Chisholm Williams, Carnegie Ross, Arthur Jacobs, C. R. Buxton, and Alex. Borger, while amongst the ladies an outstanding actress was Louisa Boyd who, in my opinion, should have taken up the stage as a profession.

The Municipal Theatre in Punta Arenas was built by José Menendez and afterwards taken over by the Municipality. It was in the French style with a row of boxes round the stalls. There was also a balcony and a gallery, and it was an ideal place in which to give our shows. However, the Municipality decided to turn it into a cinema and committed an act of vandalism by ripping out all the stalls and boxes and making it into a barn of a place to hold a thousand people. For our big revues we continued to use this reconstructed theatre and managed to fill it easily, but it ceased to have the intimacy which the original theatre had provided.

… in an out-of-the-way place like Punta Arenas, people, especially foreigners, had to make their own amusements and this was another important aspect of our Dramatic Society. Our motto was, "Our true intent is all for your delight" from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and we tried to live up to it…

Source: "Patagonian Panorama", Tom P. Jones, Bournemouth, 1961
Last updated: 4-IX-2003