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1947-1949: The post-war revival... but don't forget your ration book

Although the Second World War ended in 1945, it took Britain many years to recover. Even by 1947, when the revived club staged its first post war production in the SCDA One Act Festival with J.M. Barrie's The Twelve Pound Look, rationing was still in place. The secretary's report for 1949 records how club members gratefully received a food parcel sent by a drama group in New Zealand.

In that year, the club staged another double bill of curtain raiser and three act play. This time the venue was Mary Erskine School Hall in Queen Street. That three act play was Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest. Making his debut in that double bill was a young man by name of Douglas Currie (Second from right in photo). That young man is still an active member of the Mercators today - currently club secretary. Douglas's most vivid recollection of that production was the venue itself.

"A flat hall with poor sightlines where umbrellas were needed to shield some from the rain dripping through skylights which couldn't be closed; no "props" but what we could lay hold of from families; only borrowed costumes (rationing still on); the stage lighting a derisory death-trap with its plugs and wiring a compliment to Victorian installers; finally where no charge for tickets could be made in an unlicensed hall and where the club had to rely on the generosity of the audience with an interval collection".

It was clearly time to find a new venue...

1949 - The Importance of Being Earnest

1950-1959: The Club is firmly established... It's fun to play at the YMCA

In February 1950, the Mercators moved to a new venue, the YMCA hall in St. Andrew Street. It was a small, intimate and comfortable venue seating around 200 people. So what was the catch? The lighting was still fairly rudimentary and to get from one side of the stage to the other you had to go down one flight of stairs, through the dressing room and back up via a second flight of spiral stairs. If your entrance was stage left, you had to make sure you were waiting offstage left. Needless to say, many club members can recall hairy moments.

Plays performed in the early 50's included Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit and, in 1952, a first for the Mercators - the première of an original Pantomime written by one of our own members, the late (and much missed) Cal Donald.  

The temporary closure of the YMCA for reconstruction in 1955 forced the club to find alternative venues; Adam House Theatre and St. Columba's Hall. Plays presented during that break included Champagne for Breakfast by Derek Benfield and The Hollow by Agatha Christie. However, in the autumn of 1957, the newly reconstructed YMCA welcomed the Mercators back to perform Kenneth Horne's Fools Rush In.

It was a period when we enjoyed good coverage from the local press at a time when Edinburgh had two evening newspapers - "The Evening News" and "The Evening Dispatch". Although we were alarmed in those Cold War days to find ourselves named by one critic as the "Mevatovs"!


Ticket for "Autumn Crocus"

1936-1939          1947-1949          1950-1959          1960-1969          1970-1979
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