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News from Member Theatres – February 2014

At OldburyREP, 2014 is the occasion to celebrate 75 years, with a gala production of Crown Matrimonial. Chairperson Doreen Bastable will also be celebrating 71 years as a member, and over 50 years as a member of the management team. Another example of impressive commitment to the amateur theatre in England.

Chesil Theatre have taken delivery of a number of Philips Selecon PL LEDs: 5 x PLCYC1, 5 x PLFRESNEL1 and 3 x PLPROFILE1, which are intended to enhance their colouring abilities considerably. Following this they invited a number of LTG Theatres to a Lighting-Designers-Only Philips Selecon LED Workshop at the Chesil Theatre on November 10. Theatres who sent lighting technicians were Maskers, Plaza, Titchfield, Wharf and former member Woolstore. A workshop was also held later for Haying Island who were setting up on the original date.

The Charity Scheme at The Miller Centre Theatre over their last season raised a total £10,565, which included £4,088 from the sale of calendars for Calendar Girls. Since the scheme was started, nearly £480,000 has been raised for local charities. The scheme has now been replaced by a £1 Miller Centre Refurbishment Levy on each ticket to pay for essential work at the Centre. Meanwhile, the techies at the theatre have a new toy – a highly sophisticated piece of kit in the control box with the technical name of ETC ION. Other techies reading this will understand how it delivers on sound and light cues precisely and rapidly, and will know that it didn’t come cheap!

In November Oast Theatre, Tonbridge held a special open day – Les Miserables Day – when from 9:30am to 6:00pm there was a master class offering the chance to learn the secrets of this famous musical. It was run by Andy Reiss and David Fawcett, and simulated an actual working rehearsal, showing special techniques and creating scenes from the show, allowing participants to experience rehearsals as part of a professional working company.

Market Harborough Drama Society celebrated their 80th Anniversary with a Gala Dinner in November, and a gala performance of Hindle Wakes as well.

Rainham Theatrical Society celebrated in November their Golden Anniversary in many ways. There was a special anniversary dinner, a Variety Show, A Meander Down Memory Lane with Dean Caston, and a gala reception after the Youth Theatre production of Much Ado About Nothing.

At Attfield Theatre, Oswestry, they commemorated 35 years of service backstage and in the lighting and sound box of Mervyn Hughes, with a party and a special cake! Since 1979 Mervyn has worked on 173 productions with 31 different directors, and amassed a vast library of music and sound effects in the process. Devotion to the cause!

Peter Cockman, long standing member of Progress Theatre, Reading and the Keeper of the Purse. celebrated his 90th birthday last year. Peter was nominated in the Cultural Contribution section of the Pride of Reading Awards (and won), for his contribution to the life of Progress since 1974, where he has acted, directed, produced, and of course been Treasurer. It also reflected his contribution to the Reading Open Air Shakespeare, and to the founding of the Caversham Park Theatre in 1965.

The opening of the new film – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – brought some very welcome publicity on TV and in the local press to Bolton Little Theatre, because of the connection with the Director, Justin Chadwick, local boy made good! Justin had been a member of the theatre’s Junior Workshop in the early 1980s, playing the lead in Kes, and also on the main stage in On Golden Pond. When interviewed, his happy memories of his time at BLT were very gratifying.

News from the Bingley Arts Centre, home to Bingley Little Theatre, is that business is flourishing, with nearly full houses for a range of extra events, especially musical ones. Audiences for the in-house productions have been very good too. Success breeds!