Following yesterday’s meeting please find a copy of the Chair’s Report submitted by Annie:


AGM – SUNDAY 11 January 2015


Friends of The Matchbox Theatre, ladies and gentlemen, fellow thespians! – once again a warm welcome to this our 33rd AGM.

Before I embark on a review of 2014, we must recognise the loss of John Williams who passed away on the 30 September.   As Pat’s husband he had always been a great supporter of the Matchbox and, of course, an integral part of the Normanhurst Festival over many years.  We are grateful and appreciative of the ways in which John touched all our lives and remember him with love and affection.

Looking back at previous annual reports, I always seem to be saying the same things – no doubt you’ve noticed!  But once again last year saw three very diverse productions. Our emphasis was to include as many players as possible particularly since we have quite a few new young, talented and enthusiastic members of the group.

So……last March saw Mike Savill’s production of The Government Inspector which involved a very large and diverse cast.  Performed on the stage as well as the floor of the hall, it gave scope for an engaging, amusing and entertaining evening.   Very different from anything we had previously performed, it was much enjoyed by our audience.

In the summer for our July production, we had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday!  – with a miscellany of short pieces from or referencing Shakespeare, including Pat’s 15 minute Hamlet and a new piece on Anthony and Cleopatra written by Vicky. Once again we were able to involve a large ensemble cast.  This was an informal evening, arranged with tables around the hall and supper was provided.  It went down very well with our audience,  the diversity of the pieces providing something for everyone to enjoy!

Last, but by no means least, Vicky was able to fulfill her long held wish to produce The Winslow Boy in December, a slightly smaller cast – but still 11 players – this was extremely well received by our audience with many very enthusiastic commendations for the cast, the set and the costumes.

It really was another great year – for the plays produced, the performances, the staging and all that entails – and the costumes.   It’s always very encouraging to be at the door as people leave and hear their comments, not just to me but to each other – people always like the variety of productions that we do quite apart from the excellent performances, staging etc.

We always have a ‘post play’ gathering at which we can congratulate and thank all those involved in whatever capacity – because everyone is such an integral part of a successful production.   So I would just like to add the group’s appreciation to Mike and Mavis for all they do to facilitate the smooth running of the box office – and to Gill for organising the refreshments for each performance – we don’t take these things for granted  – so a big thank you from us all.

However, Mike and Mavis have decided that they need to relinquish the running of the box office after the March production.   So an extra thank you for ALL you have done over the years, the box office has always been run so smoothly and we are very grateful for all the time and effort you have both put in and the support you have given us.  Let us show our appreciation……………

Following on from this Mike Downing has decided to pass the baton of Stage Manager to Clive, Mike will still be involved in the set design and advise where necessary – so we thank Mike for taking over from Grahame and doing such a wonderful job – and we thank Clive for so willingly stepping in.  Clive has been involved with the set construction for years, so none of the requirements will surprise him!  And he can still act as well if he wants to!

Mike Downing will take over the Box Office after March, so we’re grateful to him for taking over, it’s great to know it will continue to run smoothly in safe hands.

We are already working on our March production which is Mary Stuart, directed by Mike Savill.   Auditions and casting took place before Christmas, so rehearsals are underway.  We haven’t performed an historical piece for a while, so we are enjoying another intriguing play with strong character parts to develop.

An additional item to mention – of some importance!  As some, but definitely not enough, of you know – Mike Savill has been putting out a regular Matchblog, regarding the current productions at the time of writing, reflecting on past triumphs, delving into the archives for copious numbers of photographs, even finding some ‘backstage’ cartoons to laud our much appreciated stage management and all things technical!  As you can imagine, as Mike is writing it, it is both entertaining and interactive – your opportunity to answer back!!! So, we would love it if you would all sign up – all you have to do is enter your email address and it will come directly into your Inbox – you won’t regret it!

On a personal level, as always, I would like to thank the committee members for all that that they do and their support for me as well as the group.   I also want to thank all members of The Matchbox Theatre for their contributions, encouragement and support, we have seen some magnificent performances last year – long may it continue and I am sure that 2015 will see more excellent and varied productions.

That is definitely more than enough from me! – we hope you will stay at the end of the meeting and enjoy some refreshment and the chance to catch up with everybody.






Whilst voyaging through Facebook I came across a selection of posts from the above named site which I thought needed to be shared! Focussed primarily on the lot of the backstage team, these are brilliantly observed insights into the challenges that arise from responding to the whims of ‘visionary’ directors(or to put it another way moody dictators) and the vagaries of actors.

Anyone who has pressed a button under duress, arranged a prop or climbed a ladder to sort a gobo will find something to laugh at and even if you haven’t, many of these scenes will not be unfamiliar. Find more here:

Hope you enjoy.
M x



Rehearsals are well underway for our March production, ‘Mary Stuart’. Epic in scope, this historical piece set during the last days of Mary Queen of Scots (played by K Isom), explores manifold themes which are as pertinent today as ever they have been- devotion and duty, patriotism, religious zealotry, terrorism and the relationship betwixt the auld enemies Scotland and England. At its core the play focusses on the complex relationship between Mary and Queen Elizabeth (Gill Challenger), and the dealings of those men and women politicking and manipulating behind the scenes each with their own very specific agendas- honourable, misguided or wholly corrupt.

Jeremy Sams’ punchy, contemporary translation of Schiller’s seminal work provides plenty of opportunity for  cast to sink their teeth into some meaty, complex characters and powerful scenes.  Taking my directorial cues from George R Martin’s series of novels, and the hugely successful television series, after which this post has been named, ‘Mary Stuart’ is set to be an engaging, dramatic and compelling piece of theatre building on the considerable success of last year’s season. More details will, of course, follow but do keep an eye on this space, I can promise a lot more to come.

Stay tuned


Those Were the Days

It has been a while since last I dipped into the  vaults and pulled out a bit of nostalgia from Matchbox past. And so, with the start of a new year, it seems wholly appropriate to do so now and, with my own return to the cloisters of education, what more apposite piece than our twenty fifth anniversary celebration John Dighton’s ‘The Happiest Days of Your Life’. A revival of the Matchbox Theatre’s first ever production back in 1981 (and if there are any anecdotes or photos from that show I would love to post them here), it was a joyously fast paced and farcical piece set post war where, as a result of space shortage, Hilary Hall boys’ school finds itself forced, with virtually no notice, to house the staff and pupils of St Swithin’s – a girls’ school. Cue petty arguments and naughty tricks between the sexes, romantic attachments and good old fashioned comic farce, especially when one set of boys’ parents and one set of girls’ parents turn up, and every attempt is made to keep them in the dark. Very much a piece in the Ealing vein it was well received and proved capital entertainment for such a special occasion.

Although a staple of many amateur dramatics groups farces are a rarity in the Matchbox canon but when done it is invariably done very well indeed. This was a fitting anniversary tribute, marvellously staged, well cast, energetic and comedic. Involving both young and old members of the group it is good to see some maybe long forgotten faces here as well as some warm reminders of dear friends. As is often the case such pieces also act as a fly in amber reminding me of youth, oh for a Dickie Attenborough to do a bit of DNA manipulation.

Still, the memories are reward in themselves and I have delicious reminders of Gill channeling Margaret Rutherford as Miss Whitchurch, K’s wonderfully ebullient and tenacious Miss Gossage entrapping my Rupert Billings in the days when I could still play a carefree young bachelor about town, a wonderfully serpentine red and yellow scarf (glimpsed above), some great character turns from a host of the Matchbox great and good and a damned jolly good time being had by all. A true triumph under Pat Williams’ direction, it serves as a wholly apporopriate  piece with which to begin this year’s remembrances and to signal a wholly successful year on stage ahead. Here’s to it.

And more of that anon.

M x

John Williams Celebratory Concert

I am sure all of you remember the news of John Williams’ passing as reported in September. Undoubtedly a key figure in the Matchbox Theatre group, husband of Pat and facilitator of Shakespeare at Normanhurst it , of course, comes as no surprise that this was but one small part of his considerable contribution to the local arts. In recognition and celebration of this therefore a number of the groups with which he was so much involved will be coming together in collaboration this Saturday at St Francis Church. The Matchbox will be reprising its 15 minute ‘Hamlet’ from this summer’s Shakespeare event, penned by Pat herself, as our own fitting tribute to him.  ALL are welcome and hopefully some of you will be able to make it for what promises to be a joyous afternoon of music and theatre celebrating John’s rich life. For more details please click the link below:



Mission Statement 2015


Having just published the statistics for last year’s Matchblog it is very encouraging to see that it is getting some mileage and is proving a useful tool in order to support the group’s activities. More members would always be welcome however and if you are not officially ‘following’ it then please click the appropriate link on the page and join in, there really are no  obligations and it will keep you linked with every new development taking place within the Matchbox. Even if you are a follower it would be great if you could get the word out so we can boost the numbers and make it a lively forum for the group, there really are no strings attached. That said contributions are always welcomed and if anyone has any anecdotes, memories, photos, news or tales that they wish to publish then that would be more than welcomed here. Also if there are any budding Kenneth Tynan’s, Michael Billington’s or Lyn Gardner’s out there who would like to help in the reviewing process that also would be welcome, it is no onerous task and it would give opportunity to see your words publicised on these pages. Just drop me a line if you are interested.

I am really hoping to push the blog forward this year and with members’ help think we can make it an even more successful feature of the Matchbox experience in 2015. And with that it is back to the real world and the workplace but more news of forthcoming events to come in the very near future.



2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.