Warren McWilliams, from amateur drama group Saint Monica’s Players, on why the Intimate Theatre must be saved
Should the Intimate Theatre be demolished, Enfield stands to lose part of its artistic heritage.
The venue in Palmers Green was built next to St Monica’s Church Hall in 1931, but in 1935 was handed over to Sir John Clemence as the home for his repertory theatre company. This set the Intimate on its path to become part of not just local, but national cultural history.
As a theatre it has welcomed many famous actors, but the Intimate itself has also played an important role. It was the first theatre to reopen during the Second World War, and hosted the first-ever play to be screened live on television. The Intimate also contains significant architectural features, including its sprung floor, counterweight balcony, and plaster proscenium arch. In 1988, it was listed for dual use as a theatre and church hall.
Sadly, the church now views the theatre as a burden. They plan to demolish it to make way for a block of flats and new parish centre. To fund this they will sell the current parish centre in Cannon Hill.
We fully support the good work of the parish, but feel that by developing the existing building the needs of both parish and community could be met sooner – at a reduced cost. We are under no illusions as to the current state of the venue; through mismanagement and neglect it has been allowed to deteriorate. Despite that, it still runs at a profit.
With small financial investment and volunteer help, the Intimate would be an asset to the parish and community. Despite being users for decades, local groups such as ours were not consulted in the church’s five-year building audit, because we are not considered parish groups. Our knowledge of the venue would have been a valuable asset and we would have relished the opportunity to take part.
There is already a large and small hall on the site. The proposed replacement will house one large hall that could be divided into two small halls. Access to the current small hall needs to be
improved but this could be done without demolishing an entire building. This approach is akin to buying a new television because the batteries in your remote have died.
We devised alternative options and were told we would be granted a meeting with the committee, but it never materialised. We sent our proposals to the diocese, but they have been ignored. Our plans, available on the Saint Moncia’s Players website, retain all the church’s assets and meet the needs of parish and community, while offering the potential for a greater financial return.
To sign the petition to save the Intimate Theatre: