The Royalty Theatre was established in 1925 as Sunderland Drama Club. It was not originally situated on its present site, and its productions at that time took place at various venues around Sunderland, eventually settling at the Victoria Hall.
During World War II, the Victoria hall and other buildings used by Sunderland Drama Club were destroyed, and productions moved to Barnes Park and The present building, a former church hall. In 1947 we took a lease of the Royalty building, where it has been our home ever since.
The 1950s and 1960 saw us go from strength to strength as alongside our regular dramatic offerings, we took home numerous awards from drama festivals across the north of England. In the 1970s, Sunderland Drama Club played hosts to a visit by Theater Der Jugend from Essen – Sunderland’s twin town. They were an amateur group very similar to the Drama Club and performed Spur Der Leidenschaft (Cue For Passion) by Elmer Rice, but in German. These visits and our festival successes continued into the 1980s, and in 1985, our studio theatre was opened.
Th 1990s was a period of major changes for the society, as we changed our name to the Royalty Theatre and undertook a major renovation programme. The new Millennium saw David Parfitt, producer of Shakespeare in Love and whose parents had been members of the theatre, take on a role as Patron.
In 2011, Sir Ian McKellen, in his role as Patron of the Little Theatre guild, visited the theatre to see a production of Macbeth. National recognition for the theatre followed in 2015 when we were awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress of Sunderland.
The theatre will celebrate its centenary in 2025.