The Newsletter of the Leicester Drama Society
What's on in February?
“Our hero Robin has turned out to be quite a fella.
We’ll see you next year, for our tale of Cinderella” And there it was.
Robin Hood The Final Pantomime Diary Sunday 5 January - 7.50pm
Done! Our tale of Robin Hood had been told; Sherwood Forest had been saved, Poisoned Ivy composted, The Sheriff of Nottingham had got his just desserts, Dame Millie Muffin was mourning lost love (again) & Robin & Maid Marion had married for the 26th time! Yet, as I watched the audience depart from the final show I was filled with some sadness. It had all been such fun. Watching the first rehearsals in October, meeting the junior dancers with their boundless energy, first look at the fabulous costumes, working front of house in the exciting pre-Christmas period in contrast to the more chilled New Year and working with fellow volunteers, some of whom seemed to spend more time in the theatre than the carpet during the festive period. Over 8,500 people had seen the pantomime during its run and many said how good it had been and how much they had enjoyed it. I spoke to Blossom (10) & Elsie (9) who came with the Syston Brownies. "Were you booing and cheering?" I asked. "We were screaming" they said. "Best bit?", "Getting squirted with water" they both agreed. All the kids I spoke to said the same; the parents, not so much. Perhaps one year we shouldn't bother with the panto' - just squirt water at people! Robin's Den with its sweets and colouring competition was hugely popular and many came early just to spend extra time there. I spoke to John “Mr Panto” Bale the day after. I was feeling a little low. “I think we can officially call the panto’ a triumph” I said. “Thanks” said John, as he emptied the costume department washing machine. One minute you're the star of the show, next minute you're Cinders I thought. "Next year it's Cinderella" he said. Cinderella? Next year? Of course! I could be happy again! Now where's my magic lamp? Oops, wrong Panto'. • CH
Inside Editorial 2 Robin Hood 3 Flints Theatrical Suppliers 4 The selection of plays for production 5-6 The Leicester Comedy Festival 7 2020 Play List 8
Editorial I have written a lot about our panto' Robin Hood in the last few editions of Scene and I have wondered if it's been slightly too much at times. The Little Theatre Dover Street. Leicester. LE1 6PW. Theatre Manager Phillip Royley t: 0116 254 2266 e: email@example.com
However, just after Christmas I spent the evening standing next to the consumate professional Simon Dickens as he ran the evening show as Deputy Stage Manager. During the interval I was surprised at how many people appeared from backstage areas having pulled things, followed people with lights, shifted scenery, hit cue buttons and thrust props into the actors hands during the first half.
Box Office t: 0116 255 1302 w: www.thelittletheatre.net
Simon and I began to tot up the number of volunteers working on the show that night; Backstage, Front of House, Robin's Den, not forgetting the actors, actresses and dancers actually in the show.
Leicester Drama Society Limited Board of Trustees (elected unless otherwise stated)
We got to a number of around 50 people.
Chairman & Trustee for Productions John Ghent Technical Trustee Andy Crooks Treasurer elect & Trustee without specific responsibility Charles Moss Trustee for Membership Tim Hogarth Jones Trustee for Facilities James Simpson Marketing Trustee David Kimmins Honorary Secretary Mary Jones Trustees without specific responsibility Dennis Cooper â€˘ Simon Dickens Phil Wintle (Co-opted) Russell Hughes (Co-opted) Other Board Attendees Company Secretary Rob Thirlby (Appointed) Development Programme Director Jenny Harding (Co-opted)
I found that number quite astonishing. Here we have a voluntary organisation that, during a major festive period and a time of family, firesides and freezing weather, can persuade 50 of its volunteers to give up 4+ hours of their day to staff each of 26 performances of the pantomine. And we also have two shows in rehearsal! As someone new to the organisation I am astonished that it is possible - it's a fabulous testament to the rude health of LDS. Members should be incredibly proud of that achievement. And it's the members that do the odd shift that are most important. There would be a queue to play Robin Hood but relief steward in charge of booster seats? Not so much. Now it's time for a rest and to prepare for Bracken Moor - a psychological chiller - just right for January!
Colin & Emma Contributions to Scene are invited. Articles, images & ideas for stories are most welcome and if you are a nervous writer Editors Emma (EB) & Colin (CH) can write it for you. Our deadline is a week before the end of each month - but if you have a story let us know before then to guarantee that we reserve space for you! Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org All photos in each edition of Scene are by the fabulous Sally Evans, unless otherwise stated. If members use any images of Little Theatre productions in any social media post please give a photo credit to the person who took the photo. In most cases, for production photos, this will be Sally Evans.
Robin Hood An LDS Production • 13 December 2019 - 5 January 2020 Siohban Ball played "Poisoned Ivy" in Robin Hood and was completely fabulous. Glamorous, menacing & funny topped off, of course, with a voice to die for. She got gobbled up by the Great Oak in the end but Scene caught up with her before she breathed her last. Watching your sparkling performance as Poisoned Ivy I'm guessing this wasn't your first pantomime? I had the pleasure of playing the Evil Fairy in Sleeping Beauty a few years ago at The Little, plus many, many years ago I played Peter Pan in Tunbridge Wells (those were the days when my legs looked good in tights!!). Why on earth would you choose to spend most of the Autumn rehearsing and all of the festive period performing in a pantomime? It is a big consideration when being offered the part and the first time John approached me (3 years ago) my son Zach was due to start secondary school the following September, and I thought if I'm going to do this I'd better do it before he's too cool to come see his mum! I'm so glad I did, there's nothing like it and Zach loves it (still). Did you enjoy playing the Pantomime villain? Playing the villain is SO much fun. You can really play with the audience. It's much more exciting to play a part far from your own personality, although I'm not sure my husband would agree! Do you find panto' more difficult to perform in than, say, a regular stage play ? Although the scenes are generally shorter and there are not so many lines, the rhyming script is surprisingly not that easy to learn, as so many lines sound similar. But once you get the words under your belt it's really fun to do, also if you do fluff any lines it's easy to get yourself out of it as the audience love it as much when things go wrong! That doesn't work in a regular play.
• The backstage crew from the matinee performance on Saturday 21 December
As the (ahem) senior actress in the show does everyone turn to you for advice and a shoulder to cry on? At first I felt like a grandma in comparison, but it is quite nice being old enough to be everyone's mum, you get more motherly love. Plus the dancers respect my age when it comes to the sort of music they played in the dressing room, it swiftly goes from songs I don't recognise or understand to 80's sounds when I walk in.
Left to Right Kieran Cooper • Tim Neville George Walker • Gill Watson • Andy Crooks Neil Reece • Simon Dickens Mary Harding-Scott • Doug Simpson
What next for you now? Back to the reality of work and continually finding songs for my pupils, and maybe something later in the year. • SB
Lydia Clemens • Sian Williams Sam Simpson • Emily Crick • Jacob Martin
Flints Theatrical Chandlers You always get a cheery welcome in our Scenic Workship from Anna and Lyndsey, so I often gravitate there for a nose around and to see what fabulousness they are creating this week. Recently I noticed a big box of materials delivered from Flints – Theatrical Chandlers? Eh? I’d heard of a Ship Chandlers but never a Theatrical Chandlers. I caught up with Hannah Heap, Flints Marketing Manager to find out a little more about the company. When & how did the company start? Flints was founded in 1981 by Alasdair Flint. At the time he was running a scenery business, predominantly building scenery and painting cloths for opera, and was frustrated with having to contact multiple suppliers to get all the materials required, so he decided to set up a side business dedicated to providing a single source for the theatre market. This was much inspired by his love of sailing and Chandlers and what led him to coin the phrase “Theatrical Chandler”. This side business soon overtook the scenery business and became Alasdair’s focus. In 2014 Alasdair bought Arthur Beale – a famous yacht Chandlers on Shaftesbury Avenue – as it was about to go under. In 2018 Alasdair decided to retire, and instead of remaining a silent owner, he decided to sell the business to a group of staff – many of whom had worked for the company for well over a decade and formed a large part of the management group. Ben Lyle – the new managing director – has worked for the company for over 20 years and has invested a lot personally into the business. We have small pockets of families working at the company too, so whilst not a traditional family business, it has the feel of one, and work socials are fairly frequent! How many theatres in the UK use your services? We’re not entirely sure, but we’d say probably most of them! Well over 1000 we would guess… we’d be surprised if they didn’t all have a copy of our catalogue! Do you serve just the UK? Or do you ship to Europe and Worldwide? The bulk of our business is here in the UK, but we do have some fantastic customers overseas and the export business is growing. Why would I use a chandlers rather than say go to B&Q? There are many reasons to shop with us specifically rather than B&Q. First and foremost is that when you speak to Flints, we will be able to provide specific technical advice which you would be unlikely to get elsewhere. Secondly, the quality of the products we stock is extremely high and geared towards theatre requirements – eg, our extremely popular Flints Matt Black Paint is significantly more black, and more matt than any other matt black product you will find elsewhere. We also thoroughly test in house every product before we stock it, so we can ensure that it will perform as expected. Thirdly, we’re a small business that genuinely cares about our staff – as a certified living wage employer, you know that you’re doing your bit for society when shopping with us. Finally, we’ll happily set you up an account, often with favourable terms. You have an extensive social media presence, even "Flints TV" on YouTube which is great. How has the internet changed your business? It’s been quite tricky, there are of course advantages to the internet - we have the potential to reach so many more people out there, but it has led to a decline in the requirement for a one-stop-shop as people are more easily able to place orders Continued on page 8
The selection of plays for production The selection of plays for performance is usually the work of a theatre's Artistic Director. Our theatre, however, doesn't have an Artistic Director and the selection of plays is a much more democratic process. In this article Marion Morley, a member of the Production Planning Team, reveals the surprisingly complex process of play selection. “How do you choose the plays?” It’s a question we are frequently asked. At the AGM, elections take place for selection to the different teams involved in running the Theatre, the Production team is one of those. Up to six members are then elected or co-opted on to the team to serve for a two year period. During the first two plays of the season questionnaires are handed out to the audience asking for suggestions of plays that they would like to see included in our programme. A letter is sent out to all Directors asking them for the plays that they would like to be included in the next season and also when they would be available to direct if selected for a production. The newly elected members of the team also put forward their thoughts and ideas for discussion. Our main function is to provide a well balanced programme that will appeal to, and entertain our audiences; but also to be financially successful. Ticket sales are our main source of income. We are constantly researching and keeping our ears to the ground for plays that have been seen recently either amateur or professional and think that they would be suitable for The Little Theatre. We also obtain information about plays on the curriculum on the GCSE and A level courses to maybe include a play that would be of interest to local schools and colleges. Between the end of August and the middle of November we can have approximately 100 plays on our list, by December we have whittled the list down to about 50. The initial elimination of plays is usually knowledge of plays we know we couldn’t possibly stage, or plays that have already been performed quite recently. We sometimes do repeats of plays but try to leave at least a 10 year gap. For a concentrated period we are reading several plays a week, exchanging our thoughts and reviews with each other as to suitability. We have to present a mixed balanced programme which includes:comedies/farces, thrillers/dramas, classic or modern classics, period costume and newly written plays. The search for new plays is usually for plays that we know have recently had a good run professionally but we have to wait for some time before they are released for amateur production which can be frustrating. Also, several new plays
• Mbili Munthali as "Jim" & Laura Brookes as "Shelley" in Ladies Day, Season 2018-2019
these days do have quite strong language which we know upsets some of our audience members and yet can be plays that are really worth doing. It’s a very difficult decision to make. Plays that are running professionally at the moment anywhere in the country are also not available for amateur production. When we feel we have got a manageable list and recorded everyone’s comments and given each play a mark out of 5, we then reduce the list once again. Consideration is then taken as to the cost of production and the possibility of staging each play. Firstly, is the play available? Some publishing houses won’t divulge that information unless we can give them definite production dates. This is not always clear to us in the early planning stage as we have to make the decision on the balance of the proposed programme and if and when directors are available for certain plays. So, it makes it quite difficult to list 12 plays without some chopping and changing. We have to be aware of costs connected with all plays; scripts are becoming more expensive to buy, Royalties and Performing Rights have to be paid. Cast size has to be taken into consideration and if we choose a large cast play we then have to look at the cast size of the plays either side. We have to take into consideration the size of the set, is it going to be a big expensive build? Also costumes, if it’s an historical or period play, these plays can be very expensive to dress. It would also be difficult to put those type of plays either side of Pantomime because that would be overloading the Wardrobe and Technical Teams. If possible we like to look for something very popular or a big cast production to open and close the season. Firstly, to get the season off with a swing to get everyone back into theatre mode after the summer & secondly to close with with a bang or a romp so that everyone goes away thinking “it won’t be too long before next season. By February or early March we should be able to present our programme for the next season. That means the programme will have been presented to the Board of Trustees and all heads of departments will have read the plays and submitted their budgets for each play. This includes the Scenic Designers, Production and Workshop Manager, Wardrobe, Lighting, Sound and Properties. The Directors will also have been selected. All the relevant information is then submitted to printers for the theatre brochure to go to press. As I write this I have a script on my bedside table, one on my coffee table and 5 more in my bag; and I did so want to bake my mince pies today and get them in the freezer! • MM
• Stephen Moore as "Burgess" & Marie Vasiliou as "Coral" in Single Spies, Season 2019-2020
There are still shares available in our 200 Club. By purchasing a share you could win £250, £100 or £50 in the monthly draw. Please contact the Theatre Office for further details!
The Leicester Comedy Festival: The Who, the What and the Why It's February so that means the Leicester Comedy Festival! Ever the busy bee, Emma Bamford, Editor-at-Large of Scene, has scoured the achives and unearthed some surprising facts about this popular event. Ah, the Leicester Comedy Festival. Potentially, the only time in the year that Leicester gets itself into the news for something other than sport, and when comedians like Jimmy Carr, Jo Brand and Rhod Gilbert descend upon venues like De Montfort Hall and The Y Theatre. Our own Little Theatre isn’t being left out, what with the return of John Shuttleworth as well as the fantastic Dad’s Army Radio Show. But if you’re new to the Comedy Festival, or think it’s just a ‘theatre thing’ … think again, friends! Here are some of the more interesting facts and figures from the LCF’s 26-year history. In the beginning... The Comedy Festival started in 1994; it had 40 shows in 23 venues over 7 days. By 2019, this had increased to 870 shows in 72 venues over 18 days. Venues The venues have also changed a great deal since the beginning. No longer held in the obvious theatres and comedy clubs, venues now include libraries (Ashby and Coalville libraries both have events in 2020), Leicester Cathedral and the Town Hall Bike Park. Doing their bit for charity Leicester Comedy Festival is produced by registered charity Big Difference Company, whose aims are to support new and emerging talent, celebrate British comedy, and support comedians, promoters and venues to put on the best shows and events. The Big Difference Company also works with a number of different projects - helping men to take their health seriously, encouraging school children to eat sensibly, planting trees in the National Forest, reducing carbon emissions, and improving the life skills and confidence of people. Speaking of children… If you want your child to learn about comedy, the LCF is the best place to start. The 2019 festival saw the first ever UK Kids’ Comedy Festival take place, with over 30 shows, workshops and events engaging with children, young people and their families. The Laugh Term (pronounced ‘larff’, to rhyme with ‘half’ … clearly not named by a native Leicesterite) Comedy School is a dedicated half-term programme for aspiring teenagers to develop their skills and experience of performing live comedy with a showcase at the end of the week. Loving Laughing is an annual showcase of the comedic talents of primary school children and The Kids Joke Spot is a pop-up, interactive, touring activity ideal for anyone under 18 who wants to know what it’s like to be a comedy performer. You name it, they’ve (probably) been here Matt Lucas, Harry Hill, John Shuttleworth (here for the first ever LCF in 1994, and back at The Little again this year!), Mark Lamarr, Julian Clary, Craig Charles, Alan Davies, Barry Cryer, Bobby Davro, Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey, Graham Norton, Jack Dee, David Baddiel, Phil Jupitus, Stephen K Amos, Andy Parsons, Stewart Lee, Lee Hurst and Jo Brand … the list goes on. The Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition Along with the big-name stars who’ve come to Leicester and performed, several well-known types got their headstart in comedy by winning the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition which started in 1995. Mitch Benn, Rhod Gilbert, Miles Jupp and Josh Widdicombe have all won the competition at various times; Reginald D Hunter, John Bishop, Jack Whitehall and Jimmy Carr (who performed a rap!) have all been runners-up.
Awards time Not all the Festival winners are comedians. Awards are given out each year to venues and promoters. The Little Theatre had the honour of winning the award for ‘Best Venue Over 200 Capacity’ in 2017 and was also a runner-up in 2018. And finally… The UK Pun Championship takes place every year as part of the Festival. The 2019 winner was Colin Leggo who battled (and won) with some of the following puns:
Continued from page 4
with multiple suppliers, and companies like Amazon are a big threat. However, we are optimistic that ultimately people will value the effort we put into product research and bringing new products to market and so will choose to shop with us. What is your best seller? Flints Theatre Matt Black Paint (PAT023), Flints Exhibition White Paint (PAT026), Stage Weights (FHS023), and White Idenden (PAT810). Idenden is an insulating material, but it’s used in the theatre as a texturing medium!
"When I was a child, I got turned down for the school's hurdle team. I couldn't get over it." "I always fish at a nudist beach, it's the best place to get your tackle out." "When I heard my cinema was showing a documentary about Morris Dancing, I said 'I'll be there with bells on'." The Leicester Comedy Festival 2020 runs from Wednesday 5 February to Sunday 23 February and more information can be found at www.comedy-festival.co.uk Tickets for John Shuttleworth or the ‘Dad’s Army Radio Show’ can be bought at our website, www.thelittetheatre.net
Strangest item you have ever been asked to supply or source? Oooh, this is a tricky one. I imagine a lot of our products are considered weird/strange. I think the weirdest projects we’ve worked on have mostly related to our projects team who were asked to suspend a leopard in a fridge for a TV show! • CH
LDS Noticeboard - February Audition Notice • Romeo and Juliet A play by William Shakespeare, Directed by Pip Nixon. Audition dates Audition dates Monday 10 Feb 7.30pm & Wednesday 12 February 7.30pm in the Haywood Studio Gender/Age Blind Casting Audition for any part you wish. No need to prepare a speech, just be familiar with the play Rehearsals start Mid April Performance dates Monday 8 June - Saturday 13 June 2020 Cast Romeo • Juliet • Nurse • Friar Laurence • Tybalt • Paris • Benvolio • Mercutio • Lord Capulet • Lady Capulet • Lord Montague • Lady Montague • Prince Balthasar • Sampson • Gregory • Peter • Abraham • Apothecary • Friar John Let me know you’re coming / If you can’t make audition dates / Any questions. Pip Nixon e: email@example.com m: 07595 911 691
Dead Funny - April 2020
Audition Notice • The Secret Garden A play by Neil Duffield, Directed by Penny Kimmins. Audition dates Sun 23 Feb @ 2pm & Mon 24 Feb @ 7pm in the studio. Performance dates Monday 29 June - Saturday 4 July 2020 Cast I would like to invite to the audition any young people interested in playing these roles and any young-looking adult actors who would enjoy the challenge of playing the roles of children. Mary • Aged 10 Colin • Aged 10 Dickon • Aged 12 (Broad Yorkshire) The ages of the following characters can be quite flexible Martha • Young maid, Dickon’s older sister (Broad Yorkshire). Mrs Medlock • Housekeeper, middle-age (Yorkshire). Ben Weatherstaff • The gardener, middle aged (Broad Yorkshire) doubles as Craven, Colin’s father. Colin’s (young) mother • A non-speaking but important role & makes several appearances throughout the play.
Pleased to announce the cast for this production. Other roles are played by the company Eleanor - Caitlin Mottram Richard - Phil Royley Lisa - Tracey Holderness Nick - Tom Pinny Brian - Bill Hinds
Please let the Director, Penny Kimmins, know if you are planning to audition. Scripts - are available from the Theatre Office. Audition pieces are also available from the Director.
Thanks to all those lovely, talented people who auditioned • Martin Bell
e: firstname.lastname@example.org t: 01159 377 216.
The Front of House Manager writes
So the panto has finished for another year, “Oh no it hasn’t, Oh yes it has”. What fun we all had, both young and old.
Can I just give my thanks to those who covered Front of House for Robin Hood.
A big thank you to everyone involved in making this such a success. Looking forward to next year's already.
It isn't an easy task trying to find 8 for each performance. Many members are away or working on other shows and sadly, some were very poorly.
Best wishes to you all • The Marketing Team
Your heart sinks when you see only 3 on the rota. However, after living on the phone constantly it did result in people dropping what they were doing to help.
Audition Notice • Constellations
Some did two shifts in one day on more than one occasion. Others, too, did extra shifts to cover gaps. You know who you are!
A play by Nick Payne, Directed by Jane Durant.
But this is only part of what goes into making the theatre what it is. Every section faces problems , hiccups, the list is endless. But the show says it all and makes it all worthwhile. You only have to listen to the comments as people leave. Many are already booking for Cinderella as we had many enquiries for it as people left after seeing this year’s panto. The icing on the cake for us was a huge thank you from John Bale himself. • FH
• Dame Millie Muffin gets her Cinamon Buns checked by Front of House Manager, Fran Harris
Audition dates Wednesday 26 February @ 7pm in the studio. Rehearsal start Monday 30 March Performance dates Wednesday 3 June - Saturday 6 June Cast & Play Synopsis Suppose that life exists in a multiverse — a set of parallel existences that contain infinitely different futures. The possibilities in our lives are, quite literally endless. Every possible event that could happen, does happen, in one universe or another. And if two lovers meet — are drawn together in every version of existence — every possible happy ending and heartbreak that could befall them, will. Marianne, a physicist, and Roland, a beekeeper, meet at a party. They hit it off, and go for a drink. Or perhaps they don’t. They go home together, or maybe they go their separate ways. Perhaps Marianne is engaged to someone else, perhaps Roland is. Maybe she breaks his heart, maybe he breaks hers. Perhaps they come together and their love story can finally take root and grow, or perhaps it will be tragically cut short. Characters: Marianne, Roland The play is directed by Jane Durrant e: email@example.com m: 07843 633143
REMINDER TO ALL MEMBERS THEATRE AGM SUNDAY 15TH MARCH 2020 HAYWOOD STUDIO AT 7PM