From the President

Below is my President’s Report for the July meeting. I’m sharing it here so that members can keep up with what’s happening around the theatre.


President’s Report

Strategic Plan

This month has seen us tick off several items on our Strategic Plan. This meeting will see us finally pass the changes to the Constitution about membership (hopefully) and we have made progress towards updating the website so that it can manage membership.

There’s also been a range of meetings with theatre management staff about the evolving nature of the role. Vivien has also met with Jo Michel about ticketing systems as part of our investigations into changes in this area in the future. In the office area, there’s been a clean-out ahead of plans to move the photocopier into the secure store.

Back of house, there’s been a lot of activity this month. Several of our members have been busily transferring set items, materials and props to our storage shed in Cardiff, and we are making progress towards refurbishing the green room. I will be meeting this week with our WfD supervisors to work out the next steps.

The replacement of the doors into the old theatre, the repairs and repainting of the wall in the old theatre are also significant improvements.

In line with our plan, we have also had the theatre professionally cleaned and at the July meeting we will be looking at and confirming plans for the future in this area.

The ADSC has also been very busy, getting us to the point where we can lock in next year’s season.


Independent Member’s Projects

Much Ado About Nothing was our ‘trial run’ for this kind of project and it has, in my view, been a considerable success. This project was the result of several months’ worth of committee discussions and recommendations, and a response to a long-running discussion with members.

Where this idea grew from is from members’ comments about club nights. We were looking for a model for club nights that engaged members and audiences. Shakespeare’s Women most certainly did this. The idea of a four-night club night taking over $4,000, total audience well over 200, and with strong positive press about its quality? If anyone had suggested that this was possible twelve months ago, would we have believed them?

Of course, there were some unanticipated problems. We ended up with three large shows rehearsing at once, and there was some strain on the people involved. Could I thank everyone who showed patience and made accommodations for others?

We also hadn’t considered some of the organisational needs in detail, so a few things were done in an ad hoc way. As one example, bump-out breakfasts happened and were successful, but they depended on the goodwill of a few of the members in all three casts in order to work.

I would like to hear from people involved in the production, and from committee, about difficulties we can address in the future. Clearly, we have the makings of a long-term initiative here. If we can successfully manage two or three members’ projects a year, it would be one way that we could better meet the needs of our members and contribute to the wider theatre community.



Unfortunately the charity who was keen to take on The Sea has had to pull out. We have had this happen a few times lately, and it begs the question: why? Perhaps we need to revisit arrangements for our final dress rehearsal? Or is this an issue of engagement? I am keen to hear people’s views on this.


Audience and Membership Engagement

I’d like to acknowledge the work of everyone who has been putting time into this area. Noel Grivas, Amy Hill, Debra Hely, Susan Dredge and Vivien Jones in particular have been instrumental in keeping this side of things running.  However, we are currently operating without a dedicated sub-committee in this area. I’d like to get this going as a priority. Running our website, planning for season 2018, staying in touch with members, engaging our audience, making decisions about publicity… these things are essential to what we do. I know there are a number of committee members with ideas and the capacity to contribute, so what can we do here? Is there a good time that people with an interest can meet?


Stewart McGowan

President NTC

Dates for your NTC Diary

Thursday 16 February 7:00 pm:

1st Play Reading for 2017

Life member John McFadden has chosen Vaclav Havel’s play Leaving to kick off the start of our play readings this year. Members, patrons and other interested friends are welcome to come along and either take part in the reading or merely listen and enjoy the camaraderie. With 6 female and 10 male roles, there should be something for anyone. John has described it as a quirky, wry, tragicomedy and hopes it makes the 2018 season. Feedback at the reading could go a long way to support this. 


The playwright was the former Czech President, and dissident leader and poet, Vaclav Havel who died in 2011. This was Havel’s last play, who was described by the NY Times as a “writer and dissident whose eloquent dissections of Communist rule helped to destroy it in revolutions that brought down the Berlin Wall and swept Mr Havel himself into power.”


Laughter on the 23rd Floor – Debrief

Monday 20 February 6:30 pm

After a successful run that came to an end last weekend it’s time for a little introspection. The cast and crew and ADSC will go over the process involved in mounting the production. Directors and/or Production Managers (or those considering these roles in the future) and other interested members might also like to listen in or even contribute where appropriate.



Raffle Winners:

1st prize: Green H 77 – S. Wark

2nd prize: Green H 73 – Gerda.

Congratulations. Our Theatre Manager will contact you shortly.

Numbers to consider

Theatre in Newcastle

ticketOne of the most obvious things an artistically-minded newcomer to Newcastle would immediately note is that we have a very vibrant and active theatre scene. With so many shows on throughout the year, audiences have to plan what they see and how much money they are willing to part with. Naturally enough, we want our plays to be high on that priority list.

Vice-President Richard Murray sat down with the 2017 Theatre Guide prepared by recent Order of Australia recipient, Ken Longworth. These are the number of shows each month that Richard gleaned from that guide:

Month              Shows

January                   6

February                9

March                   18

April                      13

May                         7

June                       13

July                        13

August                    7

September           10

October                 13

November              6

December             Not listed

The total number of shows is 115! We are only doing 8 (1 already done) out of this number, which is close to 7% of known theatre in Newcastle. Of course, these are only the ones Ken knew about when he went to press.

Publicity and promotion are certainly big factors in helping audiences make their play selections. If you have any brilliant ideas and would be able to help the Committee in any way, be in one show per year or more, please pass your offer on to one of the Committee members. All help will be appreciated.


Picnic by William Inge and directed by Julie Black is well into rehearsals now. It opens on 4 March, and closes 18 March. Don’t just book your own tickets, start spreading the word. This is going to be another show you won’t want to miss. More information soon.


Julie’s passionate presentation about Picnic at the Launch


hot_newsBlood Brothers – matinee date moved

Blood Brothers – an excellent and moving piece of musical theatre written by Willy Russell and directed by Adelle Richards has a huge cast/band. For specific reasons, they have asked to move their Saturday Matinee (29 April) to the Sunday (30 April) and the Committee agreed to this on Monday night. This means they will have two Sunday matinees: 23 April and 30 April: NO SATURDAY MATINEE.


Adelle sharing her inspiration about Blood Brothers at the launch.

The AGM is approaching

According to the Constitution, all 2016 membership fully expires on 28 February 2017 (there’s a two-month leniency allowed). The AGM is being held on 1 March – so if you want to vote, you need to ensure you are financial. (To confirm your status email:

Anyone wishing to nominate for Committee needs to be financial at the time of nominating, as does the member nominating them. All nominations need to be submitted by 22 February. Details and forms have been emailed out. (Email the Theatre Manager if you need more information:

[Photos used were taken by Debra Hely; Clip Art - public domain/royalty free]

Submissions welcome:

If you have news that you wish to share with members here, please email me:

Until next time, cheers, Debra.

2017: Looking ahead

Item 2: Fingers crossed

re Newcastle City Council (NCC) & Occupancy Certificate

Remember when our new theatre opened in March 2011? 

There was excitement about the future and plans for a liquor licence. The Committee Members at the time raced off and got their RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) qualifications anticipating the go ahead stamp from the NNC.

But, like all good dramas, there was an obstacle. The Occupancy Certificate wasn’t granted, therefore there was no Liquor Licence and the RSA qualifications slowly expired.

Since then, each new Committee (some faces have changed, others are stubbornly still serving NTC) has struggled to meet the criteria, or negotiate regarding the work already carried out and even re-examining all our plans and policies. The number of people-hours that has gone into this is too exhausting to calculate.

Thanks to the persistent work of Stewart McGowan, Janine Mullins and other regular Committee members throughout that time, not to mention our Theatre Manager, we started to believe we were getting somewhere. The obstacle may be overcome and we can get to the happy finale.

Recently, our architect, James Craft has come up with what we hope is convincing paperwork and plans that have been forwarded to the NCC.

If we get the green light, it means we can finally get that Liquor Licence and it opens up a whole lot of other possibilities for our Company. One step at a time.


Note: all animations used are free without copyright issues. 

Written by Debra Hely.


2017: it’s all systems go

Item 1. Showing now.

Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor


Yet another serious meeting for the team of comedy writers @ NTC.


The original writers’ room.*



Season: Opened 21 January and runs until Saturday 4 June. 

Book now – you won’t want to miss out!

Ring the Office: 4954 4958 or book online

Drawing on his memories from when he was a new writer for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows; Simon sets this witty and funny play in 1953. History lovers will no doubt recall this time period coincided with McCarthy’s witch hunt of communists (“reds under the beds”).

Noel Grivas is back in his role as Director and has gathered together an awesome cast.

Richard Murray relishes his role as Max Prince (inspired by Sid Caesar himself). The team of writers in this play consist of:

  • Carl Gregory as Lucas (Neil Simon’s not-so-secret avatar);
  • Craig Lindeman as Milt (inspired by Sheldon Keller);
  • Brian Wark as Val (inspired by Mel Tolkin);
  • Aaron Churchill as Brian (inspired by Tony Webster);
  • Lee Mayne as Kenny (inspired by Larry Gelbart and Carl Reiner);
  • Bronwyn Kanitz as Carol (inspired by Lucille Kallen and Selma Diamond); and
  • Drew Pittman as Ira (inspired by Mel Brooks).

The final member of the cast is Natasha Steggles as Helen – the secretary who dreams of being a comedy writer.

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Keen audience members might well enjoy doing their own bit of research on the real-life writers and performers who inspired this funny piece of theatre. Not that anyone really has to do this before seeing the show: it’s pretty obvious that the director and cast certainly did their homework. Although the physical appearances between the actor and Simon’s inspiration may not align, the cast (with the director’s guidance), certainly bring the time period and characters to life.

The set, costumes and lighting all contribute to the successful trip back in time to the 1950s when clever comedy was the king and queen of live television.

Including interval, the show lasts for about two hours and twenty minutes.

Photos by Noel Grivas. Written by Debra Hely.
Front, from left – Gary Belkin, Sheldon Keller, Michael Stewart, Mel Brooks; Behind Neil Simon, Mel Tolkin & Larry Gelbart. From:

Keep watching this space – more exciting news to come…

NTC: Quick Updates before the Christmas Break.


for one night only, that is, Monday 12 December at 7 pm, NTC members can see what member Carol Hong has done with her cast (mostly young people) these last few months. They’ve been rehearsing The Toymaker, and performing it for school-aged children. The show goes for approximately one hour. Tickets are $5 for members and children, a $10 for adults. Member Phil Haywood, who has worked tirelessly backstage (lights, set-building, working bees and more) in 2016 is on stage for this one.


Raffle winners:

The most recent winners in order were: Green A 004, Lorraine Edwards; Grey I 60, Raeline Jones; and Grey I 47, Lyn Vale.

[My apologies if I have misinterpreted the spelling of any of the hand-written names.]


2017 Membership – still only $30!

It’s that time again already. To be a financial member at NTC for 2017 please ensure that you pay your renewal ASAP. The 2016 membership expires on 31 December, which isn’t far away. Remember, only financial members can vote at the AGM or be nominated for Committee.

There are currently several ways to pay your $30.

  1. Cash, cheque or EFTPOS payments can be made at the Theatre.
  2. Cheques can be posted to:

Membership Secretary, NTC, 90 De Vitre St, Lambton, NSW, 2299.

      3.  EFTPOS payments can be made over the phone during office hours on: 4952 4958

Note: Payment by credit card over the phone attracts a 90c fee.

  1. Or you can pay directly into our *Bank Account:

Newcastle Permanent Building Society

BSB:  650 000

Acc No:  9817 496 08

Description: Your name & M’ship Fee


The Theatre Manager’s office hours are Mon-Fri, 3-6pm.

*Please advise our Membership Secretary if you have paid by Direct Deposit by emailing ( need to know the date so our Treasurer can balance the books accurately. Thank you.


Best wishes for this holiday season aka Christmas

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, we wish you all the best and hope to meet up with you at the theatre in some capacity in 2017.

Cheers, Debra

On behalf of the serving Committee

2017 Season – Launched

With the set of Festive Season* in the background, (although largely hidden by a huge screen) our host, Richard Murray was the emcee of another successful season launch.

Stewart & Richard check projections prior to the start. Is Richard then playing with his shadow?

A total of 8 shows were revealed – here is the quick overview.


Stewart McGowan, current President on NTC was proud to welcome everyone and remind us all that 2017 sees the 60th Anniversary of our theatre company.


After that, directors began introducing their plays. First up was Julie Black who is directing Picnic by William Inge.


Adelle Richards was very proud to speak a little about the musical Blood Brothers by Willy Russell. We were then well and truly entertained by the singing of Wendy Ratcliffe who gave us a taste of the show, she was ably accompanied by a talented young woman whose name I sadly missed, but I did take her photo as you can see.


Drew Pittman & Amanda Woolford are co-directing the zany comedy A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody by Ron Bernas.


Then it was my turn to promote The Sea by Edward Bond. Thanks to Stewart who took the photos while I was on stage.


We then had a slide show interlude, recalling via very old, old, slightly old and then newer photos from NTC’s productions over the years. Some memories went back further than others in this short but slightly emotional tribute. The audience certainly enjoyed the reminders.

Pearl Nunn is directing Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. Her delivery in an American accent may have fooled a newcomer into believing she is an American, but that is not so.


Richard then had the joyful task of introducing the next director, Richard Murray who will be directing Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare. He was beside himself.


Fran Hodgson took to the stage next to introduce us all to Noel Coward’s Relative Values.


Finally, ex-President and veteran member, Leslie Wiles shared her passion and vision for her choice, Talking Heads by Alan Bennett.


Did you find your face among the audience in the random photos I took?


Those wishing to purchase Season Tickets are spoilt for choice. They can choose to see all 8 shows, or 7 or 6 depending upon their needs and availability.


Further information is available at the theatre (90 de Vitre St, Lambton), our website ( and even on our Facebook page. The theatre office is open 3-6 weekdays, so pop in or you can always ring (02 4952 4958) and leave a message outside those times.

*Festive Season only has a handful of shows left – don’t miss it. Audiences who have seen the show have nothing but praise (when they stop laughing) for this comedy by member Sally Davies. The remaining shows and times are as follows:

Friday 25 November 8 pm

Saturday 26 November 2 pm (no evening show due to CONDAs)

Sunday 27 November 2 pm

Wednesday 30 November 8 pm

Friday 2 December 8 pm

Saturday 3 December 8 pm


2017 Season Launch

Next year will be NTC’s 60th anniversary!

What exciting plays will be offered for this season? Last year we not only launched a terrific season; we also launched a whole new look.

theater       director       eyes-looking

All will be revealed this coming Wednesday, 16 November from 6 pm.

Audience members will get the opportunity to book their season passes early.

Actors can start thinking about audition possibilities. And the creative team members who work behind the scenes can feed their creative synaptic urges.

Festive Spirit Poster

Festive Spirit Poster

Don’t forget our final play for this year Festive Spirits written by our own Sally Davies opens this week: 19 November and ends on 3 December.

The cast of Festive Spirits

The cast of Festive Spirits

NTC members should have received an email about our Christmas Celebration on Wednesday 7 December. Looking forward to catching up with you at any of these coming events.

It’s 2016 – don’t let your NTC Membership Lapse!

Dear Valued Member,

No one wants to be a lapsed NTC member.

For a mere $30 you get to stay an active and financial member. You get to know what’s going on at NTC before anyone else. (And our insurance covers cast and crew too.)

This year, we have a one-off super deal going. For $120 you can purchase a five-year membership. That’s right! Only pay for four years but get five! How cool is that!

In 2016, all members – financial and life will be getting a membership card – that will also act as a receipt / proof of membership. The sooner you pay, the sooner you get your card.

Bring your card with you to auditions, shows, the AGM, or when purchasing tickets – merely flash it and those who need to know will be assured that you really are a financial member.

How do you pay? It’s too easy.

Cash, cheque or EFTPOS payments can be made at the Theatre. [The office hours are 3-6pm, Monday to Friday.]
Payment by credit card over the phone [4952 4958] attracts a 90c fee.

Or fees can be paid directly into our Bank Account:

Newcastle Permanent Building Society
BSB: 650 000
Acc No: 9817 496 08
Description: Your name & fees


Thank you
Debra Hely
Membership Secretary

Play Selection Panel – the pointy end!

Tonight’s the night that the Play Selection Panel meets to decide on their priorities for the 2016 season. No spoilers here – we want it to be a surprise when we release the season. But there’s some interesting facts and statistics around play selection. A lot of members have been involved in the very busy round of play-readings this year so it will come as no surprise to learn that there are 21 plays that have been proposed as potentials for the 2016 season.

There’s a huge range, too, including at least three new plays written by company members, some big-name comedies and dramas, musicals and farces, Australian and international works.

There’s thirteen members of the Play Selection Panel and I’d like to thank them all for their time and effort. It’s no easy task putting together a successful season. The next step is for the committee to read the short-listed plays so that they can have their input as well. Watch this space in late October to find out the results of our deliberations.