ENSA

Definition

Theater

  • Entertainments National Service Association. A British theaterorganization established in 1938 to provide troops and war workerswith entertainment ranging from plays to music and variety performances.It was managed by Basil Dean, who had organized similar shows duringWorld War I, from offices in Drury Lane. The financial side was administeredby the Navy, Army, and Air Force Institute (NAAFI).

    All actors not called to active service were required to givesix weeks to ENSA. These included John Gielgud, Edith Evans, VivienLeigh, Emlyn Williams, and Beatrice Lillie. ENSA remained in businessimmediately after the war, when Laurence Olivier toured camps in Germanywith the Old Vic.

    ENSA concerts greatly helped to boost morale during WorldWar II, despite the joke among theater people that ENSA stood forEvery Night Something Awful.

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