Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

  • The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry was built in 1958 as part of the reconstruction of Coventry after World War II. The Belgrade acquired its name in recognition and thanks for a gift of timber from the Serbian capital city of Belgrade, that was used in the construction of the auditorium.

    Frank joined the company in 1958 as part of the pre-opening team. The company was formed by Artistic Director Bryan Bailey. The first performance on the 27th of March 1958 was Half in Earnest, a musical adaptation by Vivian Ellis of The Importance of Being Earnest, this was followed by William Inge's Picnic, the third production was Peter Ustinov's Romanov and Juliet and the fourth a revival of Shaw's St. Joan.

    Frank's time at The Belgade was the catalyst that started his very successful stage career. It directly took him to the Royal Court and from there an invitation from Sir Laurence Olivier to join the newly formed National Theatre. The play that would take him to the Royal Court was Chicken Soup With Barley by Arnold Wesker and directed by John Dexter. It was first presented at The Belgrade Theatre on the 7th July 1958 for one week, subsequently at The Royal Court, London on 14th July for one week as part of a four week "Guest Repertory Season".

    Other notable actors at the Belgrade at the time include; Richard Briers, Alfred Lynch, Patrick O'Connell, Sian Phillips, Michael Crawford and Patsy Byrne.

  • Frank's letter of employment from Brian Bailey