Louis participated in 85 productions at the Barn.
In Harry Stull’s history of the Welwyn Drama Club his summary of the year 1953 to 1954 begins ‘The year was more or less uneventful’. It might have seemed so at the time, but in that year Louis Davis joined that society and over the next 60-odd years he left his mark on all aspects of the Barn, and was the prime mover in changing its history.
Louis was engaged in the family business, manufacturing brown paper bags somewhere in north London. When the war intervened he served in Italy with the London Jewish Rifles. In the 1950s he was in the Middlesex Hospital and his nurse was Ann Brewer. They married, and it just so happened that Ann’s father was Roy Brewer, Committee Member and leading light of the Welwyn Drama Club. This group was one of several companies using the Barn, mounting three productions each year and a festival play.
In 1954 Louis found himself in Roy’s production of The Beaux’ Stratagem. By the next year he was on the Club committee and the year after he became Treasurer.
In the next few seasons he played several roles and also worked as box office, lighting designer and operator, and stage manager. In 1959 he played the lead in the memorable Noël Coward comedy Red Peppers which won the Welwyn Festival. In the next ten years he was involved in 47 Drama Club plays and a handful of Folk Players plays, including the clubs’ joint productions, which were a test-run of the forthcoming merger of the two clubs to form the Barn Theatre Club. His last appearances for the Drama Club were in 1969, just before the amalgamation.
Having worked for this event, which didn’t please all the members, he was appointed the first Chairman of the new society, a post he held until 1973 and again from 1978 to 1983.
The complexities of the amalgamation were overseen by Louis. The new club had to lease the building from the New Towns Commission; participating clubs had to be wound up and their assets transferred to the new Club; membership had to be offered to all users of the Barn; and the constitution of the new Club arranged.
When the purchase of the Barn premises in 1984 became a possibility, Louis was the lead negotiator in our dealings with the New Towns Commission.
After this, Louis carried on with his frequent involvement with productions. In 2002 he took his cast to the Lake Worth Playhouse in Florida with Ayckbourn’s Round and Round the Garden. His last part was as Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army in 2008. He appeared in the Rotary Music Hall and the informal Barnstormers charity shows. He was Stage Director, then Chairman and later President of the Welwyn Drama Festival, and Chairman of the Youth Drama Festival. He played at the Minack with the Hertfordshire Players. He played pub-style piano at club nights. He and Ann moved from Radlett to Welwyn Garden to be closer to us. He was appointed President of the Barn Theatre Club in 2009.
Always cheerful and helpful, he was a guiding and important part of the Barn and a friend to everyone. We send our deepest condolences to his family, Jo, Kate, Ben and Martin and their families, and to all his friends at the Barn.
To say he will be missed does not come near how we will feel.
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Part 1, 18th Jan 8pm
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Parts 1+2 20th Jan 2.30pm
Part 1, 23rd Jan 8pm
Part 2, 24th Jan 8pm
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Part 1, 27th Jan 2.30pm
Part 2, 27th Jan 8pm