I would like to welcome everyone to the Christmas Party and AGM 2017. I have now been Chair of the company for six years and can only say what a privilege and an honour it has been during those years. Many things have been consistent throughout those six years – the dedication, commitment and professionalism of the company; the friendliness of the members, old and new and newer still; the quality of the shows; the fantastic production values; but perhaps most of all the constant change.
In the last six years, Shakespeare Live has needed to adapt, realign, reassess and move – hopefully forward - in every year. So in the last six years we have had to find financial control; become a charity; adopt a second annual production; manage our assets – costume and set (properties are next on the list!); adopt social media; re-design our website; find a new audience (remember the first year at Lackham with very disappointing sales?) and find new members.
2017 has been no different – change! The biggest change this year has been to find and adapt ourselves to a new performance venue. This was a quite challenging process – we viewed and discussed numerous properties – but like any of the best shopping trips, we eventually realised that the first place that we viewed was the best option and every further property we considered underlined that fact.
2017 – the year we came to Cleeve House. What a blessing it has been to meet Carlo – demon of the barbecue and an extraordinarily inventive man. Barbara, the calm reassuring presence and most importantly, Miriam – for whom “can do, will do” has become a watchword. The welcome, the helpfulness, the relaxed attitude have afforded Shakespeare Live the ability to thrive in this our first year, of what I believe and trust will be a long-term successful and rewarding partnership. It is fitting that I offer humble thanks to Miriam, Barbara and Carlo for their help and support.
Staying on the theme of change, we not only changed venue this summer, but also our choice of play. The planned stunning performance of King Lear, to be modestly directed by me, was changed for the perennial favourite of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The thought process behind this was to try and attract and retain audience by choosing a more popular play. Audience attraction is not an exact science, so the benefits of twenty-four young dancers; lovely weather during show week; a large cast; a popular play and a huge marketing drive enabled us to gain our largest audience for many a year.
In addition, we were welcomed back to the Dell once more this year with an imaginative piece based upon Richard III, The Importance of being Ernest and some small part of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “Bottom’s Dream” was conceived and directed by Pat Cannings and Graham Paton to a marvellous reception. The cast also completed a successful local autumn tour.
Financially, these two shows have been a big “shot in the arm” for the group and as a result, we have been able to increase both our working capital and our donations to charity for this year.
So, to the key points of 2017:
1. Finances – David Morrell will once again present a fuller picture of our financial performance, but successful audience numbers and income from both our 2017 shows have put us in a stronger position to continue the amazing journey that is Shakespeare Live. We are secure to finance both our 2018 productions and yet give generously to charity.
2. Dell show and Autumn Tour – following the hugely successful “Bottom’s Dream” and as announced last year, it is the intention to produce a show suitable for performance at the Dell each year – even if not accepted we will perform an autumn tour. This has proved increasingly popular and represents a great opportunity for directors, actors and indeed, finances. We have, as yet, to receive any suggestions for the Dell 2018 – so please get your thinking caps on and let us know what show you would like to produce!
3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – is a play that is hard to go wrong with – but I will speak about the production in more detail later. Suffice to say that amongst our Shakespeare Live stalwarts, we enjoyed the assistance of eleven “new to Shakespeare Live” actors, six of whom were aged 18 or younger and twenty-four young dancers all aged 17 or under. One of our charitable aims is to make Shakespeare accessible to younger people – this year, I believe we were able to achieve that aim. It is the intention to screen Owen Benson’s film of the show later this afternoon.
4. 2018 Summer Show – this will be The Merry Wives of Windsor, to be jointly directed by Pat Cannings and Graham Paton. Performance dates will be 2nd - 7th July 2018 at Cleeve House. This summer will be the 30th Shakespeare Live summer show and we would like to mark the occasion with a number of special events – all suggestions welcome. Pat and Graham will be invited to give a brief overview of their vision for the play a little later, but - auditions will be held a Cleeve House on 21st January 2018.
5. Directors – whilst I have spoken earlier about change, some things unfortunately remain the same! In recent years there has been a dearth of submissions to direct for Shakespeare Live. Last year I said that we are fast approaching the point where Gill Morrell and I will just take turns! So, if you would like to direct or know of someone who may be suitable, please contact me. We are happy to mentor new directors or encourage potential directors by offering an assistant director role.
6. Costume Storage –likewise repeated from last year, for many years, Christine and Bob Partington have stored a large quantity of costumes within their loft space. Christine has requested that we seek an alternative storage location sometime soon. If you have suitable storage space or know of any, please contact Lauren Davis.
7. Personal News! Not necessarily new news, but since the last AGM there have been some notable personal events in the lives of our members.
Chaney and Darren Howells have welcomed a new budding actor to their family, Ashley was born in
Verity Neeves-Burt, who played Olivia in Twelfth Night also welcomed a young actress, Martha into her family in
Jo Cockerham has just gained a first-class degree from Bath University.
Eleanor Moor-Bardell has started at University in Plymouth, studying Chemistry.
Alex Bragg has started University in Leicester, studying modern languages.
Finally, Rhiannon Needs, who departed her flourishing career with Shakespeare Live a few years ago, to join some outfit called LAMDA has just appeared in the Kinder advert – to be screened prior to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and probably appropriately between Act One and Act two….
For those reading, but not at the AGM – copy and paste the link below to your web browser:
8. Charitable donations – following last year’s donation to SANE, the board of Trustees recommend a donation this year of £500 to Dorothy House Hospice in memory of Sue Corbishley. In addition, we will take a vote on further donations after the Treasurer’s report.
9. Trustees – Again, whilst the theme of my report has been one of change, we have had a number of “board members”, “committee members” or “Trustees” throughout my tenure as Chair – David Morrell, Gill Morrell, Penny Clegg and Graham Paton – obviously bastions of patience and virtue! We have been joined in the intervening years by Lauren and Elliott Davis, Amanda Costain and Faye Matthewman. Please show your appreciation for the tireless and sometimes tiring work that all of the board have put in to ensure the smooth running of the group.
10. Nominations - We would like to invite the AGM to nominate the current board of trustees en-masse to continue next year. We would also like to invite the AGM to nominate James Dennis and Claire Wallis plus any others to the board of trustees.
Chair of Board of Trustees