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Barford Drama Group – Annual Report 2015/16

This has been a rather difficult year for Barford Drama Group.

The first production of the year had been planned to be a thriller called “And Ever More Shall Be So” to be directed by Jan However, even before auditions, it was clear we hadn’t enough men available, so Jan quickly found another thriller by the same playwright, Norman Robbins, needing fewer men. Eventually this was cast but still needed a little gender swapping!

The play, “At The Sign of the Crippled Harlequin”, was performed in April and went well, producing an excellent profit of over £300. Tim gave a very moving performance as the emotionally damaged Derek, sadly to be his last part.

Planning for June’s “Plays and Platters” did not go smoothly either. Several short plays were being considered including “Albert’s Plot” and several from the “Deckchairs” books. “Albert’s Plot” was a popular choice but required several men, and when it came to the crunch, a lack of available men decided the matter and three plays from “Deckchairs” were chosen, all comedies but quite different and each needing only two women. This also gave the opportunity for three producers and Tim had his first shot at directing.

As all the plays were set by the sea the evening was billed as a “Seaside Special” complete with a seaside supper.

Things were going well until a week before the production but then disaster struck and Tim was rushed into hospital. By the Friday, the first night of the production, he was on life support. The show went on and we got through it, just, albeit without Wendy, (Chris read in her part) but when Tim died on the Saturday morning there was no way we could do it again. We had already bought all the food, so members and friends who had been coming for the evening came to join the cast for supper and drinks and to exchange memories of Tim.

Tim had been Chairman of the group for many years. He was a rock, a stabilising force amongst the host of egos that comprises the Drama Group.

Finding a successor for him was not going to be easy, but then another unforeseen problem arose. We only had two signatories for the BDG bank account. When Eleanor left to move to Spain and Anne took over as secretary it didn’t seem worth the hassle of changing the signatory. Anne was no longer living in Barford and Tim was always available. But now with David as sole signatory the bank account was to all intents and purposes frozen. Eventually Jan agreed to take over as Chairman and things were put in motion for Jan and Jane to become signatories, but even this was not straightforward. Jane has an old-style paper driving licence and apparently banks don’t accept these as proof of identity any more. However eventually she was accepted as a valid person and the bank account was usable again.

An Extraordinary General Meeting was held in August when Jan was duly elected as Chairman.

It had been planned to do a Music Hall in some form in November. As Tim had always played such a major role in the Music Hall it was not going to be possible to continue in the same format. However Wendy was keen to produce something and there were enough people available, (we even recruited some new members) to do a simpler, shorter show over just one weekend instead of two, a show that could be dedicated to Tim. So “Not the Music Hall” was born, an entertainment of more individual and small group items rather than big production numbers. Charlie and David acted as Chairmen but not using the podia. A light supper was served in the middle. The whole thing seemed to be well received and even from just three nights £2700 was raised towards the new Scout hut.

Our last production of the year, just this weekend was a pantomime, “Cinderella”, written and produced by Jane. But two weeks before the production another potential disaster loomed when Terry was rushed into hospital. Luckily he was soon home again and only a few days later he was back on the stage. “Cinderella” seems to have been fun and a happy production for all concerned. Everyone entered into the spirit of it with gusto – Terry’s performance as the fairy godmother will be remembered for years to come – the costumes were superb, and we had four good audiences who all seemed to go out happy. With any luck we should have made a healthy profit too!.

On the social front, our Annual Dinner in March was held at the Joseph Arch. The food was good and it was an enjoyable evening.

This year the Skittles Evening in September was a DIY job. Instead of going to a pub we held it in the hall and used the Lions’ skittle alley. Jan did the food and we all brought our own drinks. It was a very good evening, and considerably cheaper than going to a pub, but of course it was a lot more work, especially for Jan with the food and Rod transporting and erecting the skittle alley.

We have had fewer meetings over the year, only two general meetings since Tim died. Jan was keen to stop holding them every month in members’ homes, but just to have three or four a year in the hall. This has caused a few hiccoughs though, as things have cropped up between meetings, and decisions had to be made quickly, but there was no opportunity for full discussion. No doubt there will be further deliberation on this question this evening.

There has been an interesting new venture for some members this year, reading for Barford Audio Books, a system set up by Ed Kirkby. Ed has recorded a series of books using different voices for the various characters and the recordings can be heard on CD or downloaded from the Barford Audio Books web site.

Looking to the future, a play has been chosen to be performed in June.

This is “Day of Reckoning” by Pam Valentine which Jan will direct. A reading of the play and auditions will be held very soon. Hopefully there will be no problem in casting it (There is only one male part!)

BDG is a group of many different personalities, but also of many and varied talents. So as we embark on a new year, let’s put all our differences behind us, all pull together and make this a year to remember for all the right reasons.

Jane Scott

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