Exactly 100 years ago, on Thursday 20 February 1908, actor-manager Sir Charles Wyndham held a luncheon at the Hyde Park Hotel in order to propose the creation of an association of West End theatre managers.
Joining Wyndham for this very first meeting of what was to become the Society of West End Theatre (SWET) were 16 actor-managers and producers of the time, among them Frank Curzon, John Hare, Seymour Hicks, Charles Frohman, Arthur Bouchier, George Alexander, J E Vedrenne and John Gatti, the last three of whom all became future Presidents of SWET. Seven others who were not present were also invited to join the founding members, including Herbert Beerbohm Tree, the famous actor-manager who had founded RADA four years earlier,
The group unanimously elected Wyndham as the first President of the new association, and a secretary was appointed on a yearly salary of £100. An annual subscription for membership of the new association was fixed at five guineas, with an entrance fee of 20 guineas. The founding members also voted that meetings should take place on the first Wednesday of every month at 11:00, with the next meeting scheduled for 11:00 on 4 March 1908, again in the Hyde Park Hotel.
A century later, monthly meetings of the Society of London Theatre (formerly SWET) members are held on Thursdays at midday at SOLT’s Covent Garden home.
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