Marjorie Dence

Born 14 June 1901, died 23 August 1966

Marjorie Dence was the daughter of Annie Eleanor Searle and Ernest Martin Dence, brass-founder and company director. Her theatre career began when she was studying at the University of London.

She joined the university dramatic society, where she met the actor David Steuart. Their relationship was professional rather than romantic, but it was a close and lifelong partnership. In 1934 they were both members of Lena Ashwell’s Greater London Theatre Company.

When Perth Theatre was advertised for sale in The Stage, Ernest Dence agreed to buy it for £4,000 and appointed his daughter as manager. Marjorie Dence and David Steuart contributed £1,000 of their own money to refurbish the theatre, and engaged a company. On 23 September 1935, their first season began successfully with a performance of The Rose without a Thorn by Clifford Bax, and they went on to present a further 18 plays in weekly repertory.

Under Marjorie's management, the Perth company extended its activities, travelling around the country, and hosting Scotland’s first theatre festival. She became a JP, and was made MBE in 1952. Her will stated that the theatre was to be sold to the city of Perth for £5,000 – the initial outlay.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Based on an entry by Donald Campbell