Lighthouse Newsletter (Edition 21) - October 2018

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DIVERSITY REIGNS THIS AUTUMN We all know what happened to best laid plans… Having recently emerged from a twoyear capital project in which Lighthouse was extensively refurbished and refitted we found ourselves back to square one – at least as far as the Theatre was concerned. Summer was hitting peak heat when an accident resulted in extensive water damage to the Theatre and dressing rooms below, but what might have been a crisis was coolly and efficiently managed and disaster was averted. By working with companies due to perform in the Theatre over the summer we were able to move them to the Concert Hall. Now, having reopened the theatre it is heartening to have learned that we know how to keep the drama where it belongs – on the stage and not in the headlines. The first show back in the theatre was Kate McGregor’s eagerly anticipated touring adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the kind of high quality high profile production our audiences have come to expect. Possibly less expected is Come As You Are, a pop up, venue-specific festival of high quality, innovative contemporary theatre created by LGBT artists. It is a new partnership for Lighthouse and one that I am certain will be as rewarding as it is exciting. I have no doubt that community and participation events, whether it’s Come As You Are; this month’s Roundabout Festival that Lighthouse is delivering in partnership with Arts by the Sea, Activate and Pavilion Dance South West; or Take On Me, our immersive offsite partnership with the brilliant Dante or Die, greatly enhance social capital and cohesion in our community by bringing people together to take part in and share experiences that showcase and celebrate our diversity. This year as part of our fortieth birthday celebrations we launched the LH Challenge 40 fundraising campaign for staff, volunteers and clients to raise £40 each. The involvement of past and present Chairs in the campaign has produced an amazing contribution, not from their personal wealth, but from utilising their creativity in a very personal way that is so appropriate to our organisation and in this issue David Pratley, the previous chair of Poole Arts Trust, talks about his very special Christmas piano recital later this season. From a Sunday morning deluge to the twelve days of Christmas via Jane Austen and a festival of gender queer theatre… just another autumn at Lighthouse.

Elspeth McBain, Chief Executive, Lighthouse


TAKING THE DRAMA OUT OF A CRISIS Drama in the Theatre is usually welcome, but not when the scene involves gallons of water pouring over the stage, orchestra pit, dressing rooms and toilets. That was the scenario at 10.30am on Sunday 1 July when an accident in the Theatre damaged the sprinkler system and caused extensive water damage.

“The theatre was fully restored in time for the new season with a refurbished orchestra pit mechanism, stage flooring, front drapes, a new sound system, a large stock of new lights and redecorated dressing rooms. Our insurance company has been incredibly helpful and supportive which has made the process of renewal and replacement run smoothly and if anything the Theatre is actually in a better position in terms of sound and lighting than it was before. “So now it’s on with the show…!”

Having recently welcomed Jane Austen’s Persuasion - the first show in the Theatre since the incident – General Manager Martyn Balson has been reflecting on the lessons learned. “Back in 2015 I attended a workshop run by UK Theatre about major incident planning and heard a presentation by the Royal Shakespeare Company in which they outlined how they had spent three years updating their plans to deal with a huge range of possible incidents. “The senior management team at Lighthouse subsequently sat down and drew up plans for all kinds of contingencies. It resulted in a massive grid of actions to be taken, things like how we look after our people, how we manage PR, what the next 24 hours or seven days look like. The plans are detailed but obviously it’s impossible to consider every eventuality so the grid gives a flexible framework to follow once the building is made safe and the people are safe. “We only lost one show – an event in the Concert Hall that Sunday night was cancelled while we could still contact ticket holders to save them travelling. The other shows planned for the Theatre were relocated to the Concert Hall. “As part of our regular training last November we walked through a scenario in which a small fire in the Concert Hall had put the venue out of action for six months. That training was invaluable and now that we have dealt with a live situation we know our systems provide a robust response to a major incident.


COME AS YOU ARE Lighthouse was founded on the principle of inclusivity – it’s a space for everyone – and as we celebrate four decades of delivering high quality arts for all we take another step change into the future with the first Come As You Are festival. A celebration of innovative contemporary theatre that revels in and interrogates issues relating to male, female and all points in between and beyond, the performances are augmented by a workshop and discussion panel as Lighthouse reaches out to members of the wider LGBT community. The festival’s first edition at Camden People’s Theatre last summer was headlined by Lucy J Skilbeck’s award winning show Bullish by Milk Presents and the play will again top the bill on the three-night touring edition, which plays Lighthouse from 29 November to 1 December. “The festival was such a success that we wanted to package it up as a tour and take it to venues in towns where we had identified a strong LGBT community that maybe wasn’t able to access work that was about their experience,” says Kaya Stanley-Money, executive director of Camden People’s Theatre that commissioned Come As You Are. “So we have four exceptionally high quality pieces of work that relate to different aspects of the LGBT experience, but also stand in their own right. We were struck by the sheer quality of the work that was coming out of the LGBT community and that is why we commissioned the original festival. At Camden we noticed an increase in our audience diversity during the festival that we hope will be carried on into the touring venues we have partnered with.”


Audience development work enabled by Arts Council England funding has seen each venue connect with its local LGBT community and, in Poole, appoint a festival ambassador to spread the word and build a bridge between Lighthouse and the community. As part of Come As You Are the Queering the Space initiative will see Lighthouse made more welcoming and accessible for LGBT audiences by removing gender designation from toilets for instance. “We’ll also deliver a free workshop in which we talk about gender issues and the way language is used so that can be passed on to staff and volunteers who could feel more comfortable talking to audience members. There will also be an open discussion in which the community and the venue decide on a question to be asked, appoint a panel and invite people to join the discussion.” Come As You Are has been conceived as an on-going partnership to showcase new and innovative work that not only reaches out to new audiences, but also engages existing ones. “There are two commissions available on this tour if venues want to develop work showcased in the Scratch nights,” says Kaya. “That is very much a legacy project – the Scratch nights feature work from local trans, non-binary and gender queer artists in the very early stages of development and venues can take on those pieces by providing space, mentoring and development work. “Come As You Are is badged as LGBT to start with, but the whole point is that the work is of such a high standard that in time LGBT work will become part of a wider mixed programme. There is already an appetite for contemporary theatre at Lighthouse and although there is always a risk in programming new strands, we know Come As You Are creates a gateway for new audiences.”

Thursday 29 November – Saturday 1 December


Thu 29 November, 6.30pm

Thu 29 November, 6.30pm



Three 20-minute performances of ideas in development created by trans, non-binary and gender queer artists from the local area.

The award-winning new show from Milk Presents, the makers of the smash hit Joan, Bullish pits ancient mythology against modern gender navigation to furiously disrupt, traverse and rewrite the rulebook… with songs!

Tickets £5

Tickets £14 (Discounts Available)

Fri 30 November, 9.30pm

NON-BINARY ELECTRO HOUR Live music and theatre converge in Ray Filar’s acclaimed ‘gig theatre’ celebration of gender variance and fantasy, a tale of gender fluidity told in electro-punk form with sci-fi, striptease and spoken word.

Tickets £12, £20 to include Bullish (Discounts available)

Sat 1 December, 5.30pm

I’M BITTER ABOUT GLITTER & DEUCE DOUBLE BILL Liz Clarke’s I’m Bitter About Glitter is a collaboration with her nineyear-old son in which grit and glamour collide in a gentle exploration of identity that is a beautiful blend of fantasy and reality. Devised by Rachael Miles and Tom Marshman, Deuce recalls their experience of growing up in the grip of the hateful Clause 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act that banned local authorities from ‘promoting’ homosexuality. Using pop cultural references it unpicks historical representations of gender non-conformity.

Tickets £12, £20 to include Bullish (Discounts available)


CHRIS JARVIS: BACK IN DORSET FOR CHRISTMAS Chris Jarvis is thrilled to be heading back home in his beloved Dorset for a few weeks this Christmas to direct and play the title role in Dick Whittington for the first time at Lighthouse. “It’s genuinely exciting for me and such a lovely surprise to be asked to come back because at the moment my dad has been quite ill and I’ve relocated to Surrey, but this is still home.” This is also Chris’ first pantomime at Lighthouse, although he is very familiar with the venue as patron of Wessex Youth Orchestra and an audience member on many occasions. “This is such an intimate venue – you can see every face and hear every voice. The sound is spot on and you can hear every word. The crew, some of them have been here for decades and they know every inch of the building so you’re ahead of the game because you have a crew that is already committed and know every inch of the venue.” Chris has written the script with fellow TV presenter and actor Peter Duncan who, with his production partner Darren Reeves, has coproduced panto at Lighthouse since 2016. “It’s a scream,” he grins. “Peter is wonderfully bananas. He is a great one for going off on tangents and that’s exactly what you need in a panto because it makes it different. I think the trick is to tell the story that everyone knows and wants to hear, but to go off on tangents which are surprising, funny, engaging and use the cast well.


“It’s a silly show, a feel-good pantomime, rags to riches. It’s about being resilient, it’s about all the things that a lot of the children and grown ups are talking about. It’s also feel good in terms of an alternative to what’s going on in the real world, which is a lot of people arguing, a lot of fake news, a lot of posturing and although we’re not at war actually we are hearing those drums and this is a real escape.” Chris is particularly thrilled to be working with Richard Gibson (Alderman Fitzwarren) again, who he first met in panto in Guildford in 1995. ‘That was my first panto and we had a great time. If we’d lived in the same town we’d have been bosom buddies, he’s a scream, such a funny guy. I don’t know whether people quite realise how much of ’Allo ’Allo was him – David Croft saw him messing around with that character and wrote it in. Richard has written bits in this script as well, a lot of his end scene, we’re consulting with him all the time.” Chris hasn’t missed a panto season since that first one in Guildford and for all his success in television following his debut in The Broom Cupboard on Children’s BBC in 1992 and CBeebies’ long-running Show Me Show Me with Pui Fan Lee, it all comes back to working in front of a live audience. “I mean how lucky are we?” he asks. “As a kid I did amateur pantomimes and I remember we had a lighting guy who used to work for BT who took two weeks off work to do the panto and here I am lucky enough to do it for a job – how privileged is that? I never forget that.”


David Pratley December’s lunchtime recitalist

I wasn’t around in Poole when Lighthouse was built but, as the then Regional Director of the Arts Council of Great Britain, I was aware that Poole was in the process of building a modern arts centre fit for its vision of what the historic town had now become. After many professional visits to see companies performing here in the 1980s, our professional paths were to cross once more over the Millennium, when I shepherded the BSO and, more closely, Lighthouse through the Arts Council’s Stabilisation Programme. When, in 2009, I moved to the New Forest a new and rich period of engagement with Lighthouse was to open up. My parents who had lived in Bournemouth had in their lifetime enjoyed many Lighthouse

events. And, when Lighthouse advertised for new Board members, I thought it a small gesture of my thanks for what they given me to put my name forward. I served as Chairman for eight years and have many great memories of those times. Wonderful performances by the BSO under its newly appointed director Kirill Karabits, dance from great choreographers such as Akram Khan, physical theatre (which I had barely encountered) and circus. And, after a few tricky years in which Lighthouse came too close to the edge for financial comfort, we created a wonderful organisation working to a deliverable business model, driven by a great staff team and presenting a compelling programme. On Thursday 6 December, I return in another guise, this time to give a lunchtime piano recital as part of Lighthouse40. Everyone will know the Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. Few will know of the musical portraits composed by Richard Rodney Bennett in the 1990s of the twelve gifts given “to my true love” over these twelve days. They are wonderful: in turns tuneful, percussive, witty and elegant. I have wanted to play them in a recital for a long time and I’m thrilled it’s to be at Lighthouse.


FUNDRAISING “There’s nothing like the feeling of sitting in an audience for a show knowing that you have played a part in making that show happen – people have supported Lighthouse for forty years and it’s part of my job to create opportunities for them to support it for the next forty years.” New fundraising manager Tom Shallaker is looking forward to involving even more people in Lighthouse. ‘It doesn’t matter if a donation is £5 or £100,000 they all make a difference, but for me it’s all about building and sustaining a relationship. So many individuals have shown their support for Lighthouse in the past by buying a ticket, or making a donation and it’s my hope that if we’re able to get them along and they can see how their support makes a difference they’ll feel able to support us again in the future. “I’ll also be getting to know businesses and organisations locally that could benefit from having a closer relationship with Lighthouse.’ Having worked for Sheffield Theatres, Northern Ballet and lately Cambridge Live, managing the individual giving programme and corporate sponsorship for Cambridge Folk Festival and Cambridge Orchestral Concert Series, Tom arrives with a wealth of fundraising experience. “Arts organisations all over the country are having to look beyond their existing grants and revenue to raise funds, it has become a fact of life,” he says. “Around 90 per cent of tickets are subsidised in one way or another. We’re asking those who are able to afford it to add a little more on top of their ticket price to help others that couldn’t otherwise afford it to be a part of the experience, to help keep the arts accessible and enable as many people as possible to take part. “Sometimes people in the area may not know how highly regarded Lighthouse is in the rest of the country. I was well aware of Lighthouse and its reputation as the main arts organisation in this region, but to maintain that role it needs the help of its supporters more than ever.” When he’s not at work Tom is a keen folk dancer, specifically sword dancing. “It’s a weekend hobby, going out to festivals; I already knew about Wimborne Minster Folk Festival and I’m finding out about lots of others as well. “My partner is from Dorset and we always planned to move here one day so when this opportunity at Lighthouse came up it was a no-brainer – I can’t wait to get out there and discover what makes Dorset tick.” : Contact Tom at

01202 280000