Hello everyone. This is an uncertain time for all of us, and the cancellation of our 2020 Annual General Meeting, which would have been held this evening, just about now, is indicative of the many changes and cancellations that are taking place in our lives. The remainder of 2020 is clearly going to be a difficult time for all community theatre organisations.
For the moment our existing committee remains in place, but we are more than happy to co-opt anyone else who would like to be involved. Our meetings for the foreseeable future will be held online, mostly via email, so the commitment of your time will be relatively minimal. Please contact us if you are able to assist.
This is not an official report, such as would be given at an A.G.M., but an unofficial survey of Grads' last year and its prospects for the future. Please give us your feedback - you can comment below or email us at email@example.com
Our 2019 Annual General Meeting was held in the Shakespeare Garden of the Arts Building, just after the completion of Lucy Eyre’s production of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice - which re-established Grads in the New Fortune after a lapse of several years. It was a successful production, playing to reasonable houses. It was nominated for both Best Actor (Judd Milner as Shylock) and Best Actress (Grace Edwards as Portia) at the Finley Awards, and Judd Millner’s Shylock won in its category.
In July we experimented by mounting a staged reading, with music, of the locally written historical play Voices From the Tomb, directed by Pete Nettleton, at the Old York Courthouse. Special thanks to Seanne Sparrow for her help with organising this, and to Pete for all his work. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend, but by all accounts it went very well and we actually made a bit of money! I believe that this kind of show offers many opportunities for Grads in the future.
In October we presented Tennessee Williams' Glass Menagerie in the Dolphin Theatre, directed by Jane Hille. It was a powerful and imaginative production that adopted a challenging non-naturalistic performance style and had an innovative and beautiful set. The small cast was strong and incredibly committed. James Ford, who played young Tom, was awarded a special commendation for Best Youth at the Finley Awards and the cast were all nominated for Best Ensemble.
From a financial perspective, we lost about $2,250 in 2019. This was more than we lost in 2018, although about half of the loss was due to expenses carried over from 2018 shows. Making a profit in the Dolphin Theatre is proving very difficult, and we will have to give serious consideration to whether we can afford to continue using it. We have been here before, and we'll be here again! I will post a fuller financial report shortly, when an official audit is complete.
Our use of the Dolphin is complicated by another factor: University Theatres now requires us to pay upfront for use of venues, less any money taken by advance ticket sales. This means that we have to make a significant payment in advance, which given our financial situation is going to get harder and harder. It makes a two week season almost impossible. It is in itself a reasonable requirement, but one that was not enforced in 2018. It has been suggested that we approach the Latvian Centre, where Barry Park recently staged a successful show for Playlovers, as a venue for future shows.
In November we started planning for our next show in the New Fortune, Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Thomas Dimmick. That show has now finished, and I am sure that all who saw it would agree with me that it was a life-affirmingly inventive, funny and colourful production that used the New Fortune stage beautifully. Ticket sales were not at the level of Merchant of Venice, given the current situation in the world and the relatively unknown play. We are awaiting a financial reconciliation from University Theatres.
This year we were planning to present Alide Chaney's production of 'My Mother Said I Never Should…' in July at the Townshend Theatre in Subiaco. Events have forced us to cancel, of course. However the Townshend Theatre, along with the Latvian Centre, definitely seem to be promising venues for future productions.
We were also planning a two-week season of 'The Boys in the Band', to be directed by Barry Park in November, initially at the Dolphin Theatre, but, given the expense of making an upfront payment for two weeks, we were considering the Latvian Centre as an alternative. We have not yet made a decision as to whether we can proceed.
It is my personal opinion that Grads should do everything in its power to maintain its connection to the University of Western Australia, at least as far as continuing to use the New Fortune on a regular basis. In this we are supported by University Theatres, who are keen for it to continue in use as a theatrical venue, for which they need a group like Grads - but whether we can leverage this to make it a financially feasible option remains to be seen.
Thank you for reading this far, and thank you for your support for Grads. We will be considering our future options over the next few weeks, but there are so many unknowns! Please comment with any observations or suggestions you may have, and again - thank you!