Chairman’s Newsletter – September


MHDS Newsletter – September 2020

Dear Supporters

Now I might as well get the bad news out of the way first – there will be no live performances in our auditorium until at least February 2021.
At a recent Trustee’s meeting it was decided that due to the social distancing requirements it is simply impossible.
We calculate that, under existing social distancing regulations, if we were to open the auditorium for performance we would, at best, get around 30 masked people in and that the only way to get them in according to present restrictions would be to have them queue up outside and be escorted into and out of the auditorium one or two at a time. No bar facilities and limited toilet access.
And then there is the cast and crew. How on earth do you keep them 2 metres apart? Imagine a crowd scene, a love scene, or a fight at 2 metres distance.
There have been a couple of attempts by professional theatres – including one at the London Palladium with Beverley Knight in front of an audience of about 400 (around 15% of their maximum) and musical at a ‘warehouse’ theatre in Wembley.
They happened but (from reports) were not theatre as we know and love it.
The Wembley one could only happen because the cast were Covid tested every day and ticket sales restricted to about 20% capacity, and the Palladium effort was described (by Andrew Lloyd Webber) as an experiment that would not be repeated.
We are advised by the LTG that the next time the regulations will be reviewed is in November. If social distancing were relaxed to the point where we might be able to accommodate, say, 60 people in a reasonable manner, we would then look at reopening sometime in February – but we’re not scheduling anything at the moment as previous re-scheduling has proved to be pointless.
But that is not to say that the Society is doing nothing – Far from it.
By the time you read this the first of three productions planned for the rest of 2020 will be available to view on the website. The Lockdown Review is a satirical look at the Lockdown with sketches written and performed by our members.
From what I’ve seen it’s a sort of cross between Monty Python and Not the Nine O’clock News. It runs for just over an hour and is on the part of the website which members of the public can access as well as our own members.
Watch it and enjoy – and get friends to watch as well. We need to let the world know we are alive and kicking.
This will be followed by ‘Old Smokey’ a play written and directed by our very own published playwright, Arthur Aldrich, who has adapted a new play he has written as a ‘radio play’ for this rehearsed reading which will go up on the website in October, and be followed in December by an adaptation of Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ adapted by Mark Bodicoat and directed by Jan Wilson.
In total these three productions will give 30 or 40 people the opportunity to perform and be part of a creative process.
And if the situation continues into 2021, I understand that a radio version of Under Milk Wood is under consideration by the Drama Committee.
More will follow until things can return to normal, but if the theatre is still dark next summer, we would like to schedule an outdoor production and here we need your help. We need to find a possible venue. If you can think of somewhere or have connections with anywhere that might be suitable, we’d like to hear from you.

Parsnips are resuming in September with classes being halved in size and each half meeting fortnightly instead of weekly. Again, this is subject to changes in Government Regulations. It will be good to have the young people back in our theatre.
The sale of short dated beer and soft drinks was a great success (we sold out in minutes) and raised £123.50 for the MH Foodbank.
And finally, we have now made refunds and issued credit notes in respect of the unused portion of 2019-20 season tickets and the cancelled Murder Mystery Evening. But, amazingly, around two thirds of all people entitled to a refund have chosen to donate their refund to the theatre. We are incredibly lucky to have such generous patrons.

And that’s it for now. Keep smiling.


John Foreman
Chairman MHDS