The Algarveans Experimental Theatre Group
Chairperson´s Report 2018
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.
When William Shakespeare wrote these words many hundreds of years ago he could have been describing what it is like to be a member of an Amateur Theatre group
Madam President, Officers, Committee Members, Ladies and Gentlemen of The Algarveans and prospective new members……Good Afternoon and welcome to the AGM of the best amateur theatre group in Portugal….Probably. After I made this speech last year I asked my wife Melanie how it had gone and she said it had been both original and good….unfortunately, she followed this up by saying the parts that were good weren´t original and the parts that were original weren´t very good.
You can see how hopeful she is of an improvement by the fact she has chosen not to attend the AGM this year. However, Melanie did give me some advice. She told me to be accurate and be brief. So I promise I will be brief as possible…..no matter how long it takes.
Firstly, can I just take the opportunity to thank the team at Big Reds for looking after us so well.
Secondly, can I thank you all for electing me as chairperson for a third and final year, Two years as chairman so far and no one wants to sack me, I don’t think I have ever lasted in a job so long! But seriously I promise to work as hard as ever to support this drama group of which I am so proud to be a member.
We have passed our 27th anniversary and what a fabulous year it has been. How great to see so many new faces at the helm and being involved with our show´s. The two shows in 2018 could not have been more different from each other.
Our show at the end of June “The Vicar of Dibley” based on the very popular TV series was a great success both financially and critically. Melanie Winstanley did an amazing job as Director and did not make it easy on herself as she brought together not only the talent of The Algarveans but also worked alongside the fabulous choir of the Western Algarve and their excellent choirmaster Liz Honey to give the show a special musical twist.
The cast of new and old faces truly brought the TV characters to life, with many audience members commenting that our villagers were as good if not better than the originals! She was ably supported by a backstage team who worked tirelessly to bring the sleepy hamlet of Dibley to the Algarve stage. I thought the coordinated press and publicity activity for this show was the best we have ever done and has formed the basis of the shows since. We saw the introduction of Vlogs for the first time and I am sure all this activity resulted in a great result at the box office.
Our second show of the year “Whose life is it Anyway?” directed by a brand new Director to The Algarveans Paul Kloegman was a real challenge to all involved and certainly filled the “Experimental” brief we have in our name. Despite smaller audiences than we hoped, those who came to see it were extremely moved by the show and after each performance, several people stayed in their seats reflecting on what they have just seen.
I am indebted to Paul who stepped in at short notice to direct the show after the original Director “did a runner”…..who was that? It is not normal to single out cast in these presentations but I will just say what a heroic performance Deborah Kloegman gave as Claire Harrison without moving a muscle, Congratulations. I commend the Set build team for producing an excellent, modern and minimal set.
Socially, we had a good year with three well-attended Cheese and Wine play readings with over 30 people attending each one, A great summer party post Vicar of Dibley at Quinta do Paraiso, an early autumn Sunday lunch at Recanto dos Mouros in Silves and an early Christmas party back at Quinta do Paraiso following “Whose Life is it Anyway?”. Thank you to all those who make these functions possible and spend lots of time reminding the membership that these events are on. One small gripe…. It seems no matter how much notice we give you through whatever channel. The vast majority of our membership can´t make a decision as to whether they are coming or not until after the deadline for confirming catering arrangements. Please do your committee a favour and let us know if you are coming or not…. sooner.
Looking forward socially, it is good to report that prior to our next show you will all shortly be invited to attend a Musicals Workshop on Wednesday 8th May 2019 hosted by Karen Barroso and this event will be the launch her autumn production more of which in a moment.
Also, I can confirm that after a two-year break whilst we were in exile down in Salema! There will be the return of the Chairman´s Summer Garden Party on Sunday 16th June 2019. Melanie and I look forward to welcoming you to spend an afternoon our garden in Serra e Mar for some fun and frolics, bring your swimsuits and come with empty stomachs as I will be cooking up a storm on my BBQ and Smoker. Keep an eye out for details in the next couple of weeks.
I spoke in my presentation last year about how great it was to see people tackling new roles within in the group and it has been very rewarding to see people “having a go” at new things both on and off stage this year as well. Add this to the fact that membership continues to flourish and it is very encouraging to welcome so many new faces to our fellowship who bring “oodles” of experience to our little group here on the edge of Europe.
We wrote to the membership last summer in a bid to increase our base of Directors and it is pleasing to report that all our THREE productions in 2019 are being directed by new people. First up was Angela Theobold with our recent and excellent production of Ladies Day, more of this show at next year´s AGM. But well done to Angela and her cast and crew in kicking off this year in such a successful way. Second off the blocks is Jim Landis with the June production of “A Bench in the Sun” which is already in rehearsal and last but certainly not least will be Karen Barroso in November with our exciting family show of “The Wizard of Oz” subject to us obtaining affordable licensing. We have our first production of 2020 lined up with Paul Kloegman back in the hot seat with a production of Ronald Harwood´s “Quartet”.
I am in regular contact with Sr. Paulo Francisco and will later in the year secure dates for 2020 and continue to develop our relationship with Lagos Camara.
With our production in June we look forward to welcoming you to a new venue for us The Convento do Sao Jose in Lagoa for our studio production of “A Bench in the Sun” This theatre only has 90 seats for each of the three performances in the most beautiful setting. So when seats go on sale in the near future I really would get them quick as we will sell out.
“A Bench in the Sun” by Ron Clark is a comedy about friendship and ageing. It tells the story of Burt and Harold who spend their days’ philosophizing and bickering on a bench in the garden of their retirement home, keeping themselves alive and their brain cells churning. When a once-famous actress moves into the retirement home, the two long-time friends begin a competition for her attention with comic results
Famous comedian Mel Brooks said of the play “Very wise, very moving, but most of all, very funny”.
Jim, our Director is here today and looking for willing victims, sorry I mean volunteers to support us backstage and if you have not been approached by him or me yet….don´t rush off as we will knab you! As this is a studio production we are keeping things really simple so all roles will not be too arduous.
One feature of our drama group I like, is being able when we can to donate money to local good causes and in 2018 we were able to support the following groups to the total amount of nearly €2400……€248 to ACCA Back to School donation for Ruck Sacks, €1604 to Bombeiros in Lagoa to purchase much-needed equipment and €564 to provide a new boiler for Casa Nossa Senhora da Conceiçao (A children´s home for teenage girls) in Portimao. This means since 2005 The Algarveans have donated nearly €36,000 to charity
Some people say that charity begins at home, and it is also pleasing to report that we have spent several hundred euros in 2018 on equipping the group with a new set of tools to construct our sets, and have built and secured a cupboard to store the equipment safely and have invested and had built replacement flats to replace the old ones we have been using for many years.
Sadly, in 2018 some people close to our group have made their final exits stage left namely Ian Macullagh, Thomas Hartmann and one of our founder members Sian Hughes-Roberts. I am sure I speak for us all when I say they and their families remain in our thoughts
Am an amateur theatre group does not run itself and I would just like to thank my committee colleagues who once again have worked together to provide us and our audiences with a lot of fun. We get enjoyment acting as your leadership group but often we have to deal with issues at short notice and step in or step up to a situation. The best I can say about my committee is nothing is ever too much trouble and they all have the best interest of the group at heart. Thank you guys I appreciate all you do to support the group.
I would also like to recognise Jan Sheppeard for her work on the committee and as acting as our membership secretary for the last few years. Jan is stepping down after this AGM, I think because she now has far too many lunches to attend and has not got time to come to meetings and when she does, she fails to turn up as she gets lost, or arrives 30 minutes before everyone else because she is frightened of getting lost.
I would like to announce that Melanie Winstanley will be taking over from Jan as Membership Secretary after today, we have co-opted her for 2019 and hopefully beyond. Melanie does not sit on the committee but will give us regular updates and she wants to develop the role to support our new members.
Another area we have moved forward a great deal over the last two years is our step into the digital era with our new website, Facebook pages, Vlogs, etc. A lot of this work was done by Debbie Gaines, and I thank her for her support yet another year in 2018, but for 2019 she is taking a well-deserved sabbatical. Maxine Costa has been covering in the short term supporting this area, thank you.
Therefore I pleased to announce today that Angela Theobold has offered to manage our digital media for the next year and continue and develop the good work started as part of her committee role, she will be supported by Madelaine Wheare who will work on building relationships with all other media outlets as a “press officer”.
I am sure that you have realised that we have changed the way we now sell tickets and it did cause us a few challenges at our recent show. I would like you to know that this was not our decision but a national change to way government-run theatres are obliged to sell tickets and we were given this information three weeks after we had opened our own box office and were given 4 days to make the change. If this caused you or friends and family any issues in buying or collecting your tickets for Ladies Day, I apologise for any delays you may have had. But assure you that obtaining tickets going forward will be easier, online or in person. We will also provide a telephone helpline to advise clients as to the nearest outlet to them.
My committee has carried on the good work started by the previous Chairman in reviewing the group´s constitution. Angela Theobold has led this work and I am indebted to her for her commitment to update the constitution. She will take through our proposals which we need members to approve as part of this meeting.
We have discovered that some of the important addresses which existed for the group were somewhat out of date, one being a mere 20 years out of date and we are taking steps to correct this and get them changed to current members/locations. Sadly, to change some of this information will cost several hundred euros as it will involve visits to a notary and I think this is why we have not made certain changes in the past, however, given the politically correct times in which we now live and it is “my name on the door” we have made the decision to get ourselves up to date.
We have also discovered that we need to update our records at the Financas (Again 20 years out of date!) as the people who they believe are responsible for the fiscal representation of the group are either sadly dead, living in the UK, no longer members or no longer involved with the running of the group. Steve will in his presentation shortly propose to remove these people from the records held and replace them with current committee members I hope you support his motion.
Last year was another great year for the group. But how do we improve? How can we surpass ourselves? How do we push the envelope and come up with new ideas? Well I say this. Everyone who takes a shower has a brilliant idea. It´s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes the difference. So I say shower often and dry off with us!
And finally, I share a quote from Oscar Wilde with you which sums up my love of theatre and The Algarveans beautifully and I hope inspires all of us to play our part in keeping the Algarve entertained. “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being”. Thank you.