History of The International Theatre Studio
The International Theatre Studio (ITS) was formed in 1975 at a time when there was no theatre, in Spanish or English, on the Costa del Sol. Even though the Cervantes Theatre building in Málaga existed, it had been closed for many years, though it did re-open in April 1987 after substantial renovation. The Salon Variétés in Fuengirola made its début in 1985.
ITS was the brainchild of two exceptional ladies: Paz Dávila Arostegui and Mary Wells. Paz was from Chile, the daughter of the country’s one-time President, Carlos Dávila, but was educated in Washington DC. She trained for the theatre both in New York and at the Chekov Studio in Connecticut where one of her fellow students was Yul Brynner. Mary was the daughter of a Dutch Admiral and was married to a much-decorated ex-Battle-of-Britain fighter pilot from New Zealand.
The ITS’s first production was Noel Coward’s “Relative Values” and what a magical first night it had ! The audience was full of royalty, titled people and celebrities, including Count Rudi Schoenberg, Lord and Lady Foley, Prince and Princess Bismarck, Prince Alfonso Hohenlohe, Sir Francis and Lady Peck, Sean Connery, Mel Ferrer, Sir Stanley and Lady Baker, Ray Milland, Michael Sullivan, Dani Roban and James Hunt.
The ITS was fortunate in its early days to have among its members people of distinction from the professional theatre, such as Broadway actor Sam Bookbinder and a major British Film Industry figure, Maxwell Setton, producer of famous films like “Lawrence of Arabia”, “A Man For All Seasons” and the original “Casino Royal”.
Another luminary was Joyce Kyle, who as Joyce Blackham had spent her life as an opera singer performing at the Royal Opera House and all over the world and singing with the likes of Placido Domingo, Montserrat Caballe, Jose Carreras and the English baritone Peter Glossop (whom she had married). Joyce was a very active member who directed ITS shows and whose expertise was particularly important in the early days for the ITS’s three excursions into the world of musical comedy.
Sadly, the ITS has never had its own theatre, although a great many shows have been performed at the Atalaya Park Hotel discotheque, a popular venue with audiences who enjoy its comfortable “café theatre” type of seating arrangements and its on-site bar.
Over the years a plethora of famous plays – dramas, comedies, thrillers – have been presented: “The Odd Couple”, “Witness for the Prosecution”, “Habeas Corpus”, “The Little Hut”, “Lettice and Lovage”, “Deathtrap”, “Blithe Spirit”, “The Admirable Crichton”, “Murder by Misadventure”, “Hay Fever”, “Round and Round the Garden”, “Laura”, “84 Charing Cross Road” and many, many more.
A regular feature of the ITS’s annual programme has been a summer show performed outdoors and held for the benefit of a variety of charities. For many years this took place in the beautiful garden of the Countess of Salamanca, Maria Larish, until her death in 2004, but it has continued since at various other venues and has always emulated the Glyndebourne format whereby audiences bring their picnics for consumption al fresco during the show’s lengthy interval.
The Company have also held a great many supper-theatre evenings, involving one or more one-act works, and readings of full-length plays as regular events in their calendar. On the purely social front, there have often been informal occasions where members, whether active participants or not, have been able to get to know each other better over a few drinks and discuss recent and prospective productions.
Throughout its history the ITS has always welcomed new members, whether theatrically experienced or not and whether people’s fortes are on stage, backstage or in general administrative support. As in any theatre group there is a wide variety of ways in which newcomers can help: stage construction, stage management, properties control, lighting, sound, make-up, front of house support, publicity and so on. Of course, actors are also needed and in particular young performers who over the years have sometimes tended to be in rather short supply !