Caw Blimey!

So, the New Year is well under way and with it the start of our 2016 theatrical season.

2016- a landmark year in many ways. If you either heard or read Annie’s AGM address (see previous post) then you will know that not only are there big plans for marking the four hundredth anniversary of death of the Bard with a return to our seasonal Shakespeare, but it also marks the year of our 100th production. Now, what that 100th production actually is is open to some speculation- with spin offs, revues and various ad hoc events, the actual official determinant of that production has yet to be agreed but, suffice to say, there will be something special later in the year.

That said, we start the year on something of a special note and landmark. After a number of hugely successful runs with some extremely strong, successful and sophisticated productions, it has been decided after due consideration, that, this year, the Matchbox will be entering the Bromley Theatre Guild’s annual Festival.

This is a prestigious event that draws many of the groups in the Bromley area – a staggering fifteen in total – and provides opportunity to showcase the best of their talent culminating in an adjudication during the run and awards presentations towards the summer. More of that anon but it marks a return for the Matchbox to the BTG and a debut in the festival. And what better way to make such a debut and, indeed, to start the year than our take on one of the most successful and lauded West End productions in recent years, Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors.

This will mark one of the first amateur performances of this hilarious though challenging show and certainly the first in the locality so both an undertaking of some prestige and pressure. I have no doubt that we will rise to the task with the same aplomb and vision that saw us turn the church hall into a railway line -tunnel, track and all, travel through literary genres,evoke the gloom of the Gothic and convey the weight of Elizabethan history, last year. This will be a popular event, of that I am certain, and I will be sure to keep you updated on things as they unfold, but with a smashing cast of Matchbox stalwarts, alongside a number of new faces, this will be a great way to start 2016.

I look forward to seeing you there.





2015: The Year in Review

Crikey, insomnia is a terrible thing.

Still, I suppose that it ain’t all bad when it’s caused by a mind ever-wandering and working overtime on schemes and projects for the year to come. Well, March namely, but more of that anon.

Anyway, deciding that sleep simply isn’t  going to happen  and with an alarm call but an hour and a half away, why not make hay while the sun shines…or, to be more accurate, while the rain spatters drearily against the window in the chill dark of an Anerley morning.

Welcome back to the Matchblog and 2016. It’s a big year for the group for so many reasons intimated below and which will be unfolded in the posts to come. But before we get on with that, it’s important to reflect on the year just gone, and very successful  it was too.

As you may know, last Sunday was our AGM and, as ever, the Chair provided a summary of the past 52 weeks. Annie’s words are presented below:

Friends of TMT, ladies and gentlemen, fellow thespians! – a warm welcome to this our 34th AGM.

Well, once again I think we can agree – with all due modesty – that 2015 was another excellent year for the group.   Four very different productions, different eras, different styles – and all a resounding success with our audiences.

In March, Mike Savill directed Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller, translated by Jeremy Sams.   A powerful historical piece with a large cast of strong, well defined characters besides the key parts of Mary and Elizabeth 1 played by Kay and Gillian.   A black set with their respective coats of arms and using the stage as well as the floor of the hall – made for a compelling and, at times, forbidding atmosphere.   Historical dramas are always very popular and this was no exception.

Our summer production in July, was Improbable Fiction an (until now!) little know play by the ever popular Alan Ayckbourn.   Vicky Pearce directed – a smaller cast this time, but giving the actors lots of scope developing two sides of their respective characters.  It started as a reading group and evolved into….  a science fiction extravaganza!!  Unless you saw it – it would be impossible to explain!  But suffice it to say ‘the business’ which evolved during the second half had to be seen to be believed.  It was fun to put together, a great deal of work behind the scenes and enjoyed by all who came.

We then had an additional feature – as Halloween fell at the weekend last year, Mike Savill decided to take the opportunity to put on an evening of performance and readings for Halloween.   The idea was to have an informal, social couple of evenings on 30th and 31st October.   The hall was laid out with chairs round small tables, lots of candles to create the appropriate atmosphere and the audience brought their own refreshments.   The Turn of the Screw was the main event, brilliantly performed by James and Kay.   It was a very successful and much enjoyed event and good to have the chance to include something different in our calendar.

Our final production of the year was the ever popular The Railway Children by E Nesbit, adapted for the stage by Mike Kenny.    The director, Vicky, was delighted to secure the licence quite early on, when the London production was still in full flow – so we were probably one of the first, if not the first, amateur group to perform this classic story.

This is a play that gives wonderful opportunities to a large cast of players – ‘the children’ and we have to mention here Lily, Adam and Emma whose fantastic performances were so important to a hugely successful and popular production.  But everyone who participated from the oldest to the youngest , all the cameos for individuals and for couples highlighted the talent and enthusiasm on show.   The set was spot on, it was a great deal of work for all the crew – but combined with the sound effects, the mound of props and the lighting – provided the feeling, atmosphere and surround sound that was so key to such a successful end of year production .

Once again, during the year, I heard so many encouraging and enthusiastic comments. About the diversity and quality of all our productions.   Needless to say I am always delighted to get such positive feedback – but we need to thank others for all this….. Vicky and Mike Sav directed two productions each for us in 2015 – which is no mean feat and all-consuming in terms of commitment and time management.  Both of them always start with a clear vision of the plays that they are passionate about – and I think we would all agree they did an amazing job for us last year.   So many thanks and appreciation from all of us.

This is the year of our 100th production! – so to start us off Mike has just begun working on our March play which is One Man Two Guvnors by Richard Bean – another very popular and challenging piece of theatre.   In the summer Tim will be returning to Shakespeare– as it is 400 years in April since the Bard’s death, we want to honour him – at the same time as continuing TMT tradition of performing Shakespeare.

Our thanks go to Alan Cumbers who stepped into the breach when Clive made the decision, earlier in the year, to move up to Newburgh in Scotland.   Alan took over responsibility for set-building and generally being on hand for the week of the performances and we appreciate his commitment to the cause.  At the same time we want to thank Clive for his contributions over the years both on stage and backstage – and we wish him good luck and every happiness in his new life.

I’d like to thank Mike Sav for continuing to produce the Matchblog.   I hope you are all signed up to it – it is supposed to be interactive so please get involved, comment and contribute .    On behalf of us all I’d also like to thank our committee members for all that they do to support the group – and I want to thank all our members for their continued involvement, support and participation .   

We’ve seen some great work last year in very diverse productions and I have no doubt we shall see more this year.    Thank you all for coming, do stay for refreshments after the meeting and take the opportunity to chat and catch up.”

I would like to echo K’s vote of thanks to Annie at the meeting, on behalf of both myself and Vicky, for the incredible work done supporting directors in a vast array of capacities. For myself  I know that there are few better at keeping one on track when spinning off on my flights of directorial fancy and, though she may call any such discussions nags,  I think of them as mini production meetings! I am looking forward to a fruitful time in the forthcoming weeks.

So, that wraps up 2015, a great year. But, as you have read above, 2016 is set to be better still. And to say more about that, I’ll be back at the weekend.

See you there.

M x