But Alec had even bigger plans
and in 1952 ETCEA presented both its first major musical, A
Country Girl and its first straight play, Full
House. The scale of the productions had now outgrown the
resources of the college students alone and so ETCEA became an Evening Class, allowing its membership to expand to include anyone who had
a genuine interest in the performing arts.
Annie Get Your Gun (1960) and the distinctive Enfield College Theatre stage.
Throughout this period, and for
many years to follow, ETCEA enjoyed the wholehearted support and
encouragement of the Principal and Governors of the Enfield College.
However, it ran its own affairs and, as now, was financed entirely out of
the sale of tickets.
South Pacific (1967)
Sleeping Beauty (1971/72)
The high standard of Alec’s
productions provided an excellent breeding ground for local talent and
many members went on to success in the professional theatre.
The Wizard of Oz (1975/76)
In the early 1970s a national
reorganisation of higher education resulted in Enfield College becoming
part of the new Middlesex Polytechnic (later to become Middlesex
University). ETCEA continued as it had for the previous 30 years but it
soon became apparent that the Polytechnic authorities, who were
controlling a number of college sites all over North London, had little
interest in what was to them just another obscure “Evening Class.”
1977 was ETCEA’s year of
KISMET – the Arabian word for Fate, and our chosen
musical to be presented during the College Easter holiday. This was a time
of student agitation at many colleges throughout the country. Rehearsals
for Kismet were frequently disrupted by students
conducting a campaign of sit-ins. Just before Easter, the police finally
evicted the students and the Polytechnic authorities ordered that the
College be closed throughout the holiday. As a result, a number of our
scheduled performances of Kismet had to be
cancelled at the last moment.
The future for ETCEA looked
bleak indeed. Ill health had forced Alec Stretch into retirement. Our
position at the College looked increasingly uncertain as we no longer had
the support of the College authorities, and there was no other venue in
Enfield suitable for the scale of our productions.