July 2023 Edition
AGM News – Chairmans Review
On Thursday 13th July we held this years AGM in The Studio – there was such a great feeling in the room following one of the busiest seasons in recent years. We heard from many people including a review of the year from our Chairman, Elliott Bunker. Full minutes from the AGM will be available soon – but here is a copy of the Chairmans Review for you all to read.
Good evening, everyone and it’s so lovely to see you all here at another AGM at the end of our 40th Season at The QMT.Elliott Bunker – Chairman
And WOW what a seasons it’s been..but more on all that a little later!
I just wanted to spend a little time sharing with you some of my views from the year that has passed and in my first year as Chairman, some of the moments that have made an impact on me.
I would like to start by saying a massive thank you to my fellow EC members – when I took to the chair I was keen to ensure that we had a very clear focus. My day job outside of The QMT sees me ensuring that teams with limited resources and finances focus their energies to the things that are the most important, as often too many priorities means ultimately very little actually gets done – which is often an accusation voiced by you, the membership. In advance of my first EC meeting following the AGM, I shared my plans with the EC and I was pleased that everyone agreed and got behind a reduced set of priorities for us to focus on as a management committee. Just as a reminder these were:
1. Our productions – at our heart we are a producer of theatre, it’s what the Bancroft Players do and we have to make sure we can remain focussed on doing that well
2. Our operations – as a society that owns a theatre we have to make sure we can operate within the financial and charitable constraints set upon us
3. I was also keen to see through previous ECs plans for converting us to a CIO – Mark set out a 13-step plan at the last AGM, and I wanted us to focus our energy in helping achieve that
4. Our membership – we made some significant changes at the last AGM, with a new membership model, benefits, social plans and a need for growth in membership numbers following covid
5. And finally – the celebration of our 40th year at The QMT
So, looking at our productions, and I won’t spoil Rory’s update. I think you’ll have to agree that this last season was amazing – the quality and diversity of the productions we offered, across all the age groups entertained and enthralled audiences. I was pleased to attend every event last year, with the exception of one; The Red Lion – and it was one I was very sad not to see, especially as it in honour of Keith Warren, who would have made his directorial debut had it not been for his death just over a year ago. Over the course of the season and including external hiring companies we hosted 79 nights of live performance – and that did not come without its challenges. Limits on time, space and the impacts on our friends and members across many departments has resulted in many an unfortunate cross-word. Not because someone doesn’t want to help, but mainly because the commitment it takes to invest in putting on a show, running the theatre and having a life, family and other interests can quickly take its toll. It was just too busy and I promise you all that we will not get to that point or situation again. Conversations have already taken place to address this and next season we will not be booking other large shows into the theatre, to ensure we can give ourselves the space to focus on our shows, while we look to recruit into the teams that need more members to help support.
I would like to take a moment to say a big thank you to the Set Team and the Technical Team, who have been put under a lot of pressure this year to support the range of productions we’ve had on. It hasn’t been possible for them to commit to all productions to the same degree, so I would also like to thank those people who have stepped in to help.
Around this time last year Andrew Piggott and Emma O’Connell took on the running and licensing of the bar and we have seen that area flourish, with takings to rival many a highstreet pub, plus the reopening of the coffeeshop kiosk and the selling of ice-creams (a personal favourite, I’ll be honest!) – unfortunately Andrew is going to be taking a step back due to family and work commitments, but Emma is going to remain as our very own Peggy Mitchell, ably supported by our new Caretaker Amanda Campbell Phillips. And Emma Northcott is going to be taking on the running of the kiosk. I would like to thank Andrew for his commitment and dedication in this area over the last 12 months.
In terms of the CIO – we did complete the plans and submit the information required to our legal team – we’ve had some unfortunate delays and are still not able to announce that we have been successful in our application. At one point we had to provide evidence we could continue to be called The Queen Mother Theatre and “where was the proof we could use her majesties title” – we showed them the many photographs and letters where she was actually here and have now included that in the pack of evidence, and we continue to work with our lawyers in the hope we will submit the final information in the coming days to the Charity Commission. We then just have to wait. But as soon as we hear anything we’ll of course let you all know.
In terms of our membership – we’ve remained consistent year on year and currently have 180 active members, with the first renewal phase of the new membership offer coming up at the end of this month. We’ve given away 316 free tickets to members who have volunteered and seen 528 ticket sales benefit from the £2 members discount – in the previous season we saw 68 members buy at least 1 ticket, last season we saw 104 members buy at least 1 ticket!
We saw some great members evenings, including Bingo, Games Nights, the Christmas Quiz and Pint Sized Plays, plus we trained more than 40 members in First Aid skills – all of these things will continue into the new season as will a further drive to retain and attract more members – especially in those teams that need further support, such as Technical and Set.
We saw the introduction of RotaCentral – which has helped us better manage the planning of our Front of House teams – a big thank you to Emma Northcott who has taken on the Front of House management this season – this has seen us double the amount of people regularly helping run the theatre. But there are still many active members who have never done a front of house shift and some that have done in excess of 20!
And so to the 40th Year celebrations – we’ve marked our 40th year in very many ways – from the roll-out of the new branding on our website and through our marketing and advertising – which was shared at the AGM last year by Heather and James from our agency SugarZoo, the delivery of the first phase refurbishment of the our front of house – which saw new decoration, lighting and carpet delivered in just 4 weeks – amazingly project managed by Andrew Piggott with the team at Colin Hill and Michael Collins, and then just last weekend our Gala Evening – attended by over 90 members old and new and friends & family. This event was managed by a Gala Committee, made up of myself, Matt Gray, Amanda Campbell Phillips, Amy Walker, Andrew Piggott and lead by the formidable Claudia O’Connell. It coincided with the eve of the actual anniversary of our opening by The Queen Mother and has been cited by many of the established, original members as a real transition moment, where they feel that the baby many of them were so involved in building has been passed to the new generation of Bancroft Players and that they feel it is now in very safe hands. Something we can all be immensely proud of.
Before I conclude and touch on a couple of highlights coming in the future, I would just like to recognise again the contribution Andrew Piggott has made over this last year – I know it’s always difficult to acknowledge one persons contribution over another, but as Andrew will be leaving us it felt right to formerly thank him for the work he’s done on managing the Bar and Kiosk, his role on the EC, but especially the amazing job he did on the Phase 1 Refurbishment. It quite simply would not have happened if he hadn’t been involved. Thank you Andrew and I hope you won’t be a stranger to the QMT and come back regularly for a drink in the bar!
So briefly looking ahead to next season– in addition to our amazing array of plays, more of which from Rory in a moment, we have more regular cinema events from Tim Ray and the team at Hitchin Films, who have also offered to manage our relationship with NT Live – coming to the QMT from September this year. I’m also really thrilled to bring Comedy back to The QMT – with David Ephgrave and the team at Mostly Comedy making The QMT their new home. Both of the first two events sold out completely – the first of these, which is just next week sold out in 14 minutes!!
If I’m fortunate enough to be re-elected as your Chairman – we will continue to focus on a few key areas, definitely these will include membership retention and attraction. The planning of the future phases of the refurbishment – plus a couple more to be discussed and decided over the summer, so if you have ideas please do grab me for a chat.
Thank you for an amazing year and I look forward to more of the same in the next 12 months.
Your New EC
Following the AGM your new Executive Committee are:
- Chairman – Elliott Bunker – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Secretary – Vivien Kerr – email@example.com
- Treasurer – Mark Weatherbed – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Artistic Director – Rory Reynolds – email@example.com
- Studio Manager – Matt Gray – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Theatre Manager – Chris Lane – email@example.com
- Exec Members : Amy Walker, Emma Allerton, Emma O’Connell, Katie Milward
We still have vacancies for Main House Production Manager, Business Manager
Plus Elliott will be handing over his responsibilities for Publicity, Box Office and Website which he has held for several years.
If you think you can give up some time to help with any of these, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Artistic Directors Blog
So officially in late July and through August the theatre is dark. This allows Andrew to take down his lamps and give them a good buffing and, on top of that, we’re aiming to fit new HD stage cameras up for stage managers and actors in the Green Room. You see, nothing is forgotten in our quest for perfection! But dark or not, the place is still very busy. The Height of the Storm and The Vagina Monologues casts are rehearsing like mad, and plans are already being made for an exquisite Peter Pan set which goes up in December. I hope you’re planning to come to the auditions!
We are also announcing some actor and director workshops for Friday evenings over the year, and there’s another pint-sized play event to be announced. Yes we don’t want you sitting at home when you could be down here having fun and keeping the QMT going. Talking of that, have you signed up for bar or front of house duties yet? We hope that every member will take on at least 2 or 3 duties a year (some do more). If you’re not signed up yet do get in touch so we can send you the link to RotaCentral and you can get you involved. We can’t run the place without your help, you know. And you do get free tickets for shows so it’s a no-brainer really.
You know it’s wonderful how many families come along to be part of the QMT activities. I love to see parents and their offspring or couples working at the theatre. It’s given me an idea – what if we had some short plays so actor Mums and Dads can work alongside their kids and actor couples appear together? It’d be a celebration of our family focussed philosophy (try saying that after a drink!). I think it’d be crackin’!
Well – enjoy your hols, guys. Get your strength up for our 41st season at the QMT! And we’ll see you, sporting your new tan, very soon.
The 40th Gala Event
A couple of weekends ago many of us all got together to mark the 40th anniversary of The QMT being the home of The Bancroft Players. It was an amazing way to mark this special milestone in our society’s’ and theatres’ history.
Here you can relive the event with a selection of photos taken by Chris Wright.
Casting News – The Height of the Storm
Auditions recently took place for our first main house production of the next season; The Height of the Storm by Florian Zellar, directed by Keith Swaintson.
The cast for The Height of the Storm is as follows:
- Anne – Natalie Clayton
- Andre – Charles Plester
- Madelaine – Alison Hancock
- Elise – Claudia O’Connell
- Woman – Claire Adams
- Man – Matt Gray
Rehearsals have already started and will continue through the summer – tickets will be on sale very soon, so please keep checking the website for details.
I know by the time you all read this, the 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner will probably be a distant memory but what an amazing evening. This was then rapidly followed by the AGM. I think the EC deserve a big rest after all this. But talking about the AGM, I was delighted to present to our Treasurer, Mark Weatherbed, a cheque from the 200 Club for £350.00. With the fantastic refurbishment of the foyer very much in my mind, I have requested that this money goes towards a set of wheels for one of the new banquettes. You had to have been at the AGM to appreciate this donation!
At that meeting, Maureen Nobes asked how members we currently have – sadly wasn’t on the tip of my tongue! Just had a quick add up and its 98, so we certainly need new members.
So now to our July winners – great to see some very familiar names, and some very active people in the BPs. As ever, please join via the QMT website.
Congratulations to our July winners.
- Andrew Piggott – £25.00
- Emma Northcott – £20.00
- Dave Borner – £15.00
- Margaret Coxall – £10.00
Casting News – The Vagina Monologues
The first studio production of the new season has also just been auditioned; The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler and directed by Hannah Conway.
The cast for The Vagina Monologues is as follows:
- Vivien Kerr
- Charlotte Ashman
- Bea Wood
- Sue Pearson
- Emma O’Connell
- Lauren Tillbrook
Rehearsals will start in August and tickets will be on sale very soon, so check out the website for details.
Front of House News
A massive thank you to all our fantastic volunteers who have made our shows such a great success this season. We can’t put on shows without your continued support. It would be really great to see more new faces behind the bar, in the kiosk, stewarding or managing front of house next season. Don’t forget, that your hard work Front of House is rewarded by a free ticket to watch the next show of your choice. This must be redeemed through the box office please – just book online and quote your code.
We’ve planned some social evenings to thank our fabulous front of house teams. We’d love to see experienced, as well as would be volunteers at these social events. This is a chance to share best practise as well as find out about areas of volunteering that you haven’t yet tried and catch up with the latest changes. Our first Social Event on Friday 29th September will involve taster sessions (yes, literally) for each volunteer role under the Front of House umbrella, to include: Meet the Stage Managers, Ice Cream Tasting and Getting to grips with SumUp and the Glass Washer. FREE DRINK on arrival!
Congratulations to the latest cohort of BP members who completed the Basic Life Support course at the QMT in June: Elliott Bunker, Edith Pratt, Rosemary Brewer, Tom Power, Elena Hancock, Vivien Kerr and Nicki Pope. Another course is scheduled for October 14th 2023. (Sign up on RotaCentral).
Many thanks to those who have undertaken the training so far, your certificates and first aid badges will be presented at a social evening in the new season.
Friday 13th October – Another evening of Pint-sized Plays in the bar at the QMT. Please get in touch if you’d like to act or have written a play less than 10 mins in length. There is also a bank of short scripts available if you’d like choose something suitable. Take part or just come along to enjoy another smashing evening at the QMT.
Front of House Manager email@example.com