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.