Newsletter Archives – March 2008

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Let me be the first to wish you a Happy Easter!  It’s not for a couple of weeks, but you certainly can’t move in the shops for chocolate rabbits and other symbols of Spring, even if not of the Holy Day itself.  Let’s hope this is also a good time for a resurgence of dramatic activity.  Yes, it’s been a roller-coaster few weeks on the production front, with the disappointing news that Liz couldn’t cast After Magritte, in spite of intensive lobbying, which makes us wonder if Festivals will feature in the Players programme in future.  (You may recall that Stewart Woodward also gave up trying to enlist for a Festival last year, but has not given up hope entirely!)  It’s getting very hard to find people to come to a social evening, let alone, it would seem, commit to a summer of theatre-hopping!  (Yours truly is no exception on the Festival front, so I can’t cast any stones myself either.)

But on the upside, after a staggering turnout for the read-through of Alarms & Excursions, followed by a rapid return to earth after the more limited audition attendee numbers (but quality, to a man and woman!), Robert Peacock has indeed managed to cast Michael Frayn’s collection of short plays, and this production will now go ahead in May.

Late Spring Production, Alarms & Excursions, 22nd-24th May

Robert enthuses thus about his first directorial outing for Bovingdon Players: “Eight actors mixed and matched across eight plays will portray dozens of characters amid hundreds of sound and lighting effects in our next production, Michael Frayn’s Alarms and Excursions – More Plays than One.  This is a collection of comedies of embarrassment, frustration and strained relationships on the theme of how modern technology is meant to make life easier, but actually just provides new forms of torment.  

The Guardian called it ”The funniest play of 1998”, while The Sunday Times raved, “This is simply breathtakingly, comfortingly and appallingly funny.”  We’ve lined up a terrific cast and we’re all raring to get to grips with this challenging play and have great fun in the process. Please get in touch with me if you would like to help with this production (07905 512258 or, especially if you happen to have a secret collection of home and pay telephones and answer machines…..”

Advance warning: AGM 9th July, St Lawrence Hall

Yes, it’s a way off, but since we’ve booked the date we thought you might as well have it in your diary too.  8pm start at the St Lawrence Hall (Parish Rooms).  You will hear more nearer the time……

Survey of Amateur Arts Groups

We were recently asked to participate in a national survey being undertaken by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, who explain the reason behind the survey as follows:

“Voluntary arts activity plays an invaluable part in the cultural and social life of England. However, unlike other parts of the arts, cultural and voluntary and community sectors, comprehensive research has never been undertaken to provide a detailed picture of its scale, scope and impact. The Department of Culture Media & Sport and Arts Council England have jointly commissioned this survey of voluntary arts groups. The aim is to provide an accurate picture of activity taking place in voluntary arts groups around England including gaining a better understanding of:

  •  the number and range of voluntary arts groups

  •  the number and range of people involved in voluntary arts activities as both participants and audiences

  •  the impact groups have on the communities they work in

  •  the range of support needed to enable voluntary arts groups to achieve their ambitions”.

If, like me, you are wondering, “yes that’s all very well, but what will you do with the results?” then hopefully the final report will cast some light on this – it will be out in July.   No-one is expecting a rash of new grants or facilities to emerge, though!

Most of the questions were about the finances and make-up of the group (would you believe the proportion of our paid-up male and female members is almost exactly 50-50?  Probably not, since we never seem to have enough of one or the other!), but we were also asked tricky questions like “What would you say is the one main reason why people join your group?” (answers on a postcard please!) and what the main challenges are which the group faces.  And as for deciding which age groups the various members fell into, well, I hope I didn’t grossly insult anyone (please don’t ask!!) – luckily no individuals are identified!!! 

If anyone would like to know how your Committee answered the survey on your behalf then let me know and I will let you see the responses some time – unfortunately these couldn’t be saved for posterity except by me printing out the pages as I went along, so they can’t easily be published.  There is the small possibility of a cash prize for participating, so cross your fingers, but don’t get your hopes up.

Pub Walk, Easter Monday!  (That’s 24th March!)

Allan Saunders has kindly agreed to arrange a walk in delightful Herts countryside followed by a decent pub lunch, and following the success of the short-notice Christmas dinner we’re planning this for Monday 24th March (when we can also work off a crème egg or two…).  Because of the early Easter many people will not be away, so we are hoping for a good turnout; however, being Easter Monday, we do need to book the table for lunch, so if you would like to come, please let me or Allan know asap – and definitely by Friday 14th March.  

The walk will be around 3½ miles, so even laggards like me should be able to cope, starting and ending in Sarratt.  If the weather is dire (and who’s to say whether it will be 15° and sunny or blowing a blizzard?), then we will probably just go for the lunch.  We will sort out details nearer the time, when we know if the numbers make it viable.

NODA District Meeting, Sunday 6th April, afternoon

NODA has invited all the regional member societies to get together and exchange ideas, particularly on charity status for groups.  The last meeting, in September, was extremely useful in presenting the latest guidance on children in performances, and although the topic of charity status is not one which is very relevant to the Players, there will also be an opportunity to raise other issues and talk to other societies about their experiences. 

If you would like to go along, do let me know asap.  Robert & I will be going, so you won’t be all on your lonesome.  Start time will be around 2pm, with venue yet to be confirmed, but we believe it will be over Luton way (as it was in Hemel last time we can’t really complain!).

Christmas Production!  Details tbc!

I am delighted to report that plans are afoot for a Christmas-proximate production of hilarity and mayhem (or was it charity and a playpen?  Possibly both).  After our initial dismay at the challenges presented by new guidance on having to accommodate children in separate changing rooms, and provide chaperones for every rehearsal, cunning plans are being hatched (largely by Mike Aylward) and we hope to be able to work this all out.   Children are great for ticket sales, as you know, so an occasional foray into “family entertainment” helps with a balanced programme and budget.  We hope to get lots of members – new and old – involved, so we can then pick the best of the crop for the next production.

At the moment all I can reveal is that John & Brenda Bugg will once again be at the helm, but more info will follow next time. 


That’s all for now everyone.  Hope to see you on the 24th or another time soon.