In the early 30s an Auckland speech teacher extended his activities to Hamilton. Walter Russell-Wood tutored his pupils at a studio in the Railway Building. On these weekly visits he drew pupils together and staged play readings; their success prompted a decision to form a club and expand the exercise. A committee was formed with Mr Malcolm Thomas as President and Maisie Hewetson as Secretary-Treasurer. The first meeting took place in March 1932, with a staged reading of TG Murray's Autumn Fire. Walter both directed and read a role. He was a vital and effervescent personality with a ready wit, and dedicated to theatre. In October 1933 Walter transferred to Dunedin but kept in touch over the years. He later founded a Playbox in Dunedin and was highly regarded there. Playbox is proud to have him as its founder.
Walter died some years ago and New Zealand theatre is the poorer for his passing.
A tribute must be paid to Arthur Manning, managing-director of the Waikato Times, producer of an initial Playbox production, friend, firm supporter and patron of the Society for 28 years. The Society owes much to this fine man known in his later years as "Hamilton's grand old man of the theatre".
The above text was extracted from the Playbox Gold Book (50th Anniversary Souvenir Book)