Giant Monster Working Bee

What really needs to be done around our theatre?
1. We need a shed out the back that is big enough to store major scenery pieces
2. We need to decommission and replace the current large air conditioning unit with an appropriate, low noise fan unit
3. The costume area! It needs new shelves, sorting, reorganising
4. We’ve collected a lot of old flats and other pieces that are well past their use by date and need to be dumped. There’s also some large items to dispose of.
5. Our set construction area is evolving but it needs finishing and organising
6. If the rail on the loading bay stairs was removable…

There’s the priority list. What we’ve got planned is a giant monster working bee centred around the weekend of the 10th and 11th of January. The plan is to concentrate on the first three items in the list.

On both days, we’d get teams working at around 9 with a finish after lunch at around 2pm. What we need now is people who’d like to volunteer for a team. To volunteer, send an e-mail to Viv at the theatre. We’d like people for:

The Shed-building team
The air-con decommissioning team
The costume room team
The clean-up team
The catering and drinks team

Vintage_WWII_Patriotic_Posters_United_States_America-4LGIf you’re available for only one day, or for both, that’s fine. If you’re not available that weekend, there’s some work to be done pre- and post- the event.
2014 was such a big year that we haven’t really had the time for some of the major work around the theatre. So this is our chance to catch up and get the place ship-shape. We’ve got enough to keep everyone busy. Each team will have a ‘Captain’ who’ll be involved in the planning of the day so if you’re interested in this role, let Viv know as well.

Looking forward to seeing a great many of the members there!


Attack of the Periaktoids. Notes from the Sherlock debrief

Monday, 8th December.
Sherlock Holmes and the Legend of the Jersey Lily.
Sherlock Poster
Debriefs are designed to look at a production and reflect on what went well and what else we need to work on. We had a dozen people turn up tonight to talk through Sherlock Holmes.
There was a range of valuable discussions to do with a range of issues from the practical to the philosophical. The practical included working in the old theatre and the issues involved in working there. The philosophical included ideas about approaches to the play. All of us have ideas about how we would approach a play and sharing those was interesting.
One interesting idea involved the future of the old building. Everyone agreed that a long term plan that involved demolishing the old theatre and replacing it with a purpose-built theatre. There was also a lot of talk about the need to fix our costume and props storage. Luckily executive met tonight to talk about the major working bee in January designed to fix this problem. Watch this space.
On the philosophical side, the group discussed what’s best described as the set change issue. With four locations (plus a dressing room scene) this was a set-heavy show. The production team made use of the Periaktoids to solve the problem. Their theory was that the peris would speed up the set change process. However, the realistic sets and the number of furniture pieces meant that the set changes still took up to seven minutes.
The discussion around this was the highlight of the debrief. Some audience members really enjoyed the set change process, some found the breaks of no consequence and some found them distracting. In talking around the issues, there were some interesting insights for designers. The peris are designed to make changes quicker but they’re more suited for non-realistic sets with big splashes of colourful design items. They are okay for realistic plays but for the theatre savvy, the gaps and inconsistencies of finish are distracting.
The season of Sherlock itself did well financially, taking around $14,000. There were discussions about the strengths of the production, many of which centred on the quality of performances.
The whole debrief procedure is an important part of what we do as a theatre. Thank you to all who took part in tonight’s event.

From the Executive Meeting

As part of the ‘keep everyone in the loop’ process, here’s a quick summary of what we discussed at yesterday’s executive meeting.

1. We’ve talked a fair bit about the major theatre improvements that need to be done. Particularly the idea of putting a shed out the back for major scenic pieces. On top of this, there’s a need to rationalise costumes and improve storage facilities for them and there’s work to do on the front of the old theatre. We’ve decided to have a major theatre improvements working bee in January. I’m suggesting the weekend of the 10th or the 17th. Feedback please.
2. Our Christmas party is on at the theatre on Wednesday, 10th of December. Tickets will be $35 per person for a pre-show get together plus the Wednesday performance of Season’s Greetings. Catering cost is $20, so cast members and those who already have a ticket need only pay for the catering. It’s a ‘bring your own’ function, starting from 6.00.
3. There’s some logistics that go with all of that – it’s still a public performance, it’s likely that people will stay around to meet the cast and share a celebratory after-show drink – and we talked through the details. I won’t write them here but please discuss any issues with us.
4. John McFadden is happy to take responsibility for marketing and promotions and has a range of good ideas. He’s also volunteering to edit Repartee! I’ll be chatting with him soon.
5. We agreed that given the cost of running the CONDA awards that we would offer to sponsor a CONDA. The glass things with wings cost around $350 each. Oh, I’ll be at the announcement of the nominations this evening. Watch this space!
6. Newcastle City Council. No further movement here. I’m still working on getting the senior Development Officer out for a site inspection.
7. We talked in detail about what we wanted to get done in 2015. I’ll present this at the Executive meeting.
8. We talked generally about some custom and practice issues. How flexible should we be with time when auditioning, for example? (Our view was that we should do our best to accommodate people who can’t make it to a set audition time.)
All in all, it was a busy meeting – nearly two hours. The minutes will be with committee members soon.

Stewart McGowan


Looking for volunteer power

Our last Bunnings barbeque, two weeks ago now, was nearly a disaster. Despite the best efforts of Viv, Cheryl, Natalie and Amanda, we went into the barbeque day without a full roster. Amanda came to the rescue, pulling a double shift but missing an important family event to keep things running. I’m guessing Natalie put in an extra shift as well. On an exceptionally hot day. Of course, many of our regular people were unavailable. Richard Murray and I were at HSC marking, David Murray, Tracey Gordon and several other barbeque regulars were unavailable as well… but this is still an issue.
Could I first of all thank most sincerely the people who made the barbeque work, particularly Amanda and Natalie. And now, the hard part: could I ask other club members to have a think about giving up some time to be more involved. It’s difficult, I know, trying to find a balance between life and theatre. I don’t think anyone expects people to give up weeks of their time. But every time someone volunteers some time, it means that the theatre runs more smoothly and we can keep moving the company forward.
Coming up in the next few months there’s a lot to enjoy. I was at the opening of Sherlock on Saturday and had a great time. I dropped in on the rehearsal of Season’s Greetings which promises to be a fantastic season closer, especially on the Christmas Party night.
But there’s also a lot to do. Over January, we’d like to get some work done out the back of the new theatre, improving our storage so that we don’t have to carry everything up and down from the old theatre. We want to cull a lot of our costumes. There’s other work to be done building set pieces to replace ones that have become badly worn. We still don’t have a Repartee editor – I’m supposed to be just filling in.
What the committee would like is more involvement. We’re going to keep using facebook and e-mail to ask for people to help out but we’d also like our members to take the initiative and start looking for the things that need doing. When the AGM comes around in February, we will need more committee members than we’ve got this year to organise front of house, productions and theatre resources. Committee members working on a project are likely to phone members directly to ask for their help with a project. If you have some time and expertise, please let us know. Debra Hely is currently working on updating our member information so that we have a clearer picture of who is free to do which job, when. And who has particular skills to volunteer. So let us know – an e-mail to the company would be a good start.
Helping out with something at the theatre is a great way to stay in touch with people and to get to know what’s happening at NTC. You’ll be hearing from us. We hope we’ll be hearing from you, too.

Stewart McGowan