News Update – May

 

Chairman’s Newsletter – May

 

The Spring General Meeting held via Zoom was attended by 43 members, which is about the same as we would get in normal circumstances. Elections, which would usually have taken place, did not do so as it would have been too difficult to manage effectively but (all being well) next year will revert to normal.

After opening remarks President, Viv Window, remembered some members who have passed away in the last year – notably Michael Rainey and Anne Hepworth, both long standing members who had given sterling service to the Society. 

Chairman’s Report

The Chairman’s Report was shorter than usual Chairman’s report for the good reason that there was little to report. 

There has been one change to the Trustees. Arthur Aldrich recently resigned due to ill health, but we’re delighted to say that Hazel Cook offered to replace Arthur and has been co-opted to join the Trustee Board..  She will also agreed to take over the membership Secretary’s duties from Chris Jack. Chris will remain a Trustee without portfolio until next year’s Spring General Meeting when elections should be possible.

Our previous plans for reopening after the pandemic all had to be scrapped due to Covid regulations – but providing things go as planned by the Government we are planning to reopen in September. It was explained that an earlier reopening carried too many risks and even if the June 21st Government all clear is sounded there would have been too little time before the end of the season in July for a safe reopening.

He thanked Maxine for her amazing work in keeping everyone up to date with ever changing rules and regulations. He wished Mike Allen, who will be leaving the area at the end of May, a long and happy future and welcomed Carmino Traviato who will replace Mike as Premises Officer. 

He reported that the new communications system had been installed and the backstage carpet has now been replaced. Parsnips has resumed but Claire has had a serious accident resulting in her being in hospital with a severely broken leg which will need surgery. He wished her a speedy recovery.

John Waller then gave a summary of the Financial Position.

Thanks to various grants from local and national government the finances are still strong. 

The grants have cancelled out the lack of income from other sources given that our outgoings have been greatly reduced due to lack of activity.

Sue Waller then presented the 2021-22 Season as follows:

SEPTEMBER 28th – 2nd October 2021

Skylight – 2 Act play by David Hare, 2M 1F, about power, politics and passion. Two ex-lovers try to rekindle their love affair, but find that physically, emotionally and ideologically, they have pulled away from one another.**

**This play was 2 weeks from performance when the Theatre closed because of the pandemic.  Director Liz Clarke

NOVEMBER 9th – 13th

Fools – 2 Act comic fable, 7M 3F, by Neil Simon. This warm and funny play is set in a small village in the Ukraine in the 19th century. A young schoolteacher arrives to take up a job to educate Sophia, daughter of Dr. Zubritsky and his wife.  He soon discovers that the village is cursed with its inhabitants doing things upside down and back-to-front.  Can he break the curse in time before he too becomes cursed and as stupid?

Possible Gala Night Performance on Monday 8th November 

JANUARY 18th – 22nd 2022

Beyond Reasonable Doubt – 2 Act Who-dun-it by Jeffery Archer, 3F 11M (several male characters could be played by females) Accused of wilful murder of his terminally ill wife, Sir David Metcalf is locked in legal battle in the courtroom with his old rival, the prosecuting counsel Sir Anthony Blair-Booth.  Act2 goes back in time to the fateful night before Lady Metcalf’s death.  There is a surprising twist at the end. 

FEBRUARY 22nd – 26th

Two One Act Plays

Bull – by Mike Bartlett, 1F 3M.  A razor-sharp play about the fine lines between office politics and bullying. Three employees fight to keep their jobs.

Box and Cox – by John M. Morton, period farce, 1F 2M and a Narrator. The farcical plot hinges on the fact that Mrs. Bouncer has rented the same room to two men, one uses it by night, the other by day.  Her effort to keep them apart results in a ludicrous tangle. (40 minutes approx.)

APRIL 5th – 9th

A Bunch of Amateurs – 2 Act farcical comedy by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman 3M 4F.   Paparazzi M and F (at least 3). A fading, aging Hollywood super action hero star Jefferson Steele, is keen to boost his flagging career by playing King Lear in Stratford-upon -Avon. But his agent signs him up to the wrong Stratford and he ends up with the ‘Stratford players’, an Am Dram group in Stratford St. John, a sleepy Suffolk village.  Over the ensuing days, with the help of the members of this failing group, his monstrous ego and demands get cut down to size, and he discovers a few truths about himself – along with his inner Lear!**

Possible Gala Night Performance on Monday 4th April

**This play was already into rehearsals when the Theatre closed because of the pandemic.  Director Sue Waller

 MAY 24th – 28th 

Crown Matrimonial – 2 Act drama by Ryton Royce 4M 6F.  This is the fascinating story of Edward VIII’s abdication between 1936 and 1945.  An engrossing and moving study of a major constitutional crisis and an overwhelming issue of private and public conflict.

JULY 5th – 9th

Ladies Day – 2 Act comedy by Amanda Whittington 4F 1–5 M (All male characters could be played 1M).  4 characterful women, who are good friends, work in a fish processing factory in Hull.  They decide to go on a trip to the Royal Ascot meeting relocated to York racecourse.  Dressed up to the nines, they are ready for a drink, a flirt and a flutter. However, their friendships are tested as secrets are spilled along with the champagne, but could their fortunes change before the end of the day……………….

All Main Auditorium Productions Include Saturday Matinees and licences have been obtained for all the main house productions.

Two studio productions have been pencilled in for December and March but, as yet licences have not been obtained.

JF thanked Sue and the Drama Committee for their hard work given the restrictions. There was general approval for the choice of plays.

New Season Publicity

Very soon, the theatre window, social media and website will be full of information that we will be back. These messages will be changed every 3-4 weeks emphasising things like improvements to the ventilation system and other messages to remove the fear factor as well as promoting the plays.

Thanks in advance were sent to Nick Lewis and to coordinators and members who will enhance the window displays to aid promotion of specific plays. Our windows in the past few months have looked good, but now we must look forward. 

We will need to ensure the website is up to date and attractive to users. Offers to help will be gratefully received.

We intend to be represented at Harborough’s Volunteers Fair in early September and will be holding an open day on the Sunday before our first play. This will coincide with Arts Fresco (lite) as they are calling it so there should be plenty of people in town.

Ticket Prices 2021-22

Tickets for 2021-22 will be priced at £12, a slight increase on 2019-20 with season tickets (which will go on sale in July) priced at £72. Buy 6 get one free. Tickets for Studio Productions are being reviewed.

Membership Fees

Chris Jack reported that the Trustees had simplified the membership fee structure for 2021-22. Fees would now be as follows:

Adult Membership £15

Additional Members living at the same address £10.

Youth Members (under 23 years of age) £10.

Letters would be sent to all members advising of the change. Those paying by direct debit need do nothing. Payment will be taken in August.

Future Developments

We’ve spent quite a lot in the past 18 months on improvements to equipment and in maintaining the theatre to a high standard, but we believe we have spent the money wisely.

Our expenditure this next year will be much smaller – but equally important, with a website upgrade the biggest item.

Our website was installed in 2014, since when it has had little spent on it and is now dated and, perhaps, not as inviting as it should be. 

We believe this to be a good investment but how good depends on how it is used afterwards and our willingness to ensure it is regularly upgraded in the future. 

And as an offshoot we want, for next season, to have weekly social media output on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and we are looking for someone who is a Social Media aficionado. 

Covid Restrictions

Maxine gave a short presentation on where we are now but emphasised that changes happen quite quickly. We are working strictly in line with Government advice, and specialist advice from the LTG and others.

Maxine was able to add, after the meeting that:

“We’re delighted to announce that Harborough Theatre can now display the “See it Safely” mark from the Society of London Theatres (SOLT) & UK Theatre.

This certifies that we are complying with the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers, visitors, and audiences. The “See It Safely” mark is only granted once a venue has shown that it has safety features in place, such as ventilation, hand sanitisers, cleaning, facilitating social distancing and minimising the requirement for contact.

We will updating our procedures as Government guidance evolves”

Drinks in the Auditorium

The question of allowing drinks into the auditorium has been raised several times by members and customers.

The Trustees have decided (by a majority vote) that it should be allowed for next season. There were strongly held views on both sides at the SGM with a show of hands vote showing that by a majority of about 2-1 of those present agreed. We will be sourcing washable plastic glasses and will watch the situation carefully next season, but we will allow (plastic) glasses to be taken upstairs.

We cannot allow drinks to be taken outside the premises.

With that, the President closed the meeting in her usual gracious style. 

 

John Foreman

Chairman