Muriel Pratt's Proposed Season

Circa: September 1914

By the 1900s Bristol was full of music halls and theatres, and manager Frederick Carpenter was struggling to make ends meet. In 1913 he hired Annie Horniman’s repertory company, which included Lewis Casson, Sybil Thorndike and Muriel Pratt to perform at the Theatre. Their contemporary performances helped revive Bristol’s interest in repertory companies, and inspired Muriel to start Bristol’s own repertory company.

Carpenter paid Muriel to create an experimental programme in May 1914. Following the success of her three-week season, she launched an appeal to renovate the Theatre and fund an autumn season. Sadly, the outbreak of war meant audiences were limited, with many considering theatre an unnecessary luxury. Support and finances dwindled, with some suggesting it was outrageous for a woman to be pursuing such an extravagance instead of aiding the war effort, and Muriel eventually left on tour. Undeterred, when she returned in 1915 Muriel applied to the Proprietors for a three-year lease but they refused, hoping for a better offer. She received minimal returns for her work but made a valiant attempt to revitalise local interest in the Theatre Royal.