WAOS are proud to announce that we have been awarded the Mayor's Arts and Culture award. The nomination reflected the centenary of WAOS and the creation and production of The Flames of Injustice, the true story of James Cooke and the Witham fires of 1828, written in celebration of that Centenary.
We cast Made in Dagenham back in May and until July 19th were rehearsing 'online' using various tools including specialist software that allows multiple people to sing together without the normal time-lag with virtual meetings. We're now rehearsing in person at on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Spring Lodge and Witham Public Hall and the show is coming together. As usual we have a strong cast and the big numbers are already sounding fabulous. We still have a lot of rehearsing ahead of us and we would welcome volunteers to help Backstage, Front of House, Props etc. Tickets are now on sale and we look forward to presenting this fabulous show in October - show week is 25-30th October.
It is with a mixture of sadness and disappointment that the WAOS Committee has decided to cancel all future plans to perform Annie Get Your Gun. The UK Government's Covid-19 Winter Plan, published November 23, makes it clear that the tiering system will continue well into 2021 making it impossible to return to normal rehearsals by early January, our agreed deadline. We did explore the possibility of pursuing small rehearsals and Zoom calls but Claire Carr (Director) and Jessie Tabor (MD) both agreed that these would be no substitute for the full calls needed to rehearse the spectacular company numbers.
The committee extends its heartfelt thanks to Claire and Jessie, who honoured their commitment to stick with Annie Get Your Gun after the first lockdown, and to the cast and crew, the vast majority of whom were available to carry on with the production. Thanks to each and every one of you; without your loyalty we would not have had any hope of getting even this far. On this occasion the show will not go on but we will start again, hopefully with Made in Dagenham in May, 2021.
It is a sobering thought that the last occasion, to my knowledge, on which WAOS had to abandon shows for any length of time was 1940-1946, during WWII. The aptly named Goodnight Vienna was performed in 1939 and Miss Hook of Holland performed in 1947. Our second absence from the Witham stage should not last that long; watch this space for details of rehearsal and audition dates for Made in Dagenham.
Turning to practical matters; the cast and crew of Annie Get Your Gun will have libs and scores to be returned in exchange for the return of deposits. Three committee members have volunteered to accept libs/scores and co-ordinate their return. Please erase all pencil markings, put the books in a plastic bag with your name on and drop-off to:
1/ Anita Goold, Pumpfield, 1, Blunts Hall Rd, CM8 1EX
2/ Paul Goddard, 2, Yew Tree Close, Hatfield Peverel, CM3 2SG
3/ Stewart Adkins, Durward House, Back Lane, Wickham Bishops, CM8 3LU.
All three people are working largely from home so there should be someone at each address. If not, leave the bag on the doorstep.
It may be only small consolation but I encourage you all to consider taking part in our virtual pantomime, Aladdin, on Dec 22. Contact me for details. If you can't be there then the WAOS Committee wish you all a safe and happy Christmas - Oh yes we do!
As you may recall, the extraordinary events of this year forced us to cancel our AGM, which had been scheduled for mid March. As it seems unlikely that there might be sufficient relaxation of restrictions in the near future to allow us safely to hold our AGM in the traditional fashion, your Committee has decided to hold it online. So the Annual General Meeting of Witham Amateur Operatic Society will be held at 7:30 pm on Monday 15 June 2020, as a virtual meeting, facilitated by the zoom platform, which can be used on a variety of devices.
Members and Friends of the Society wishing to join the virtual meeting should contact the Chairman, Stewart Adkins (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the zoom link.
1. Apologies for absence
2. Minutes of the last AGM, held on 1st May 2019 (attached)
3. Matters arising from the minutes
4. Treasurer's report and presentation of audited accounts (attached)
5. Chairman's report
6. WOW report
7. Appointment of President and Election of Officers and Executive Committee
8. Any Other Business
Appointment of President and Election of Officers and Executive Committee.
Keith Radley has indicated his willingness to serve as President of the Society for a further year.
The Constitution states that the WAOS Committee should comprise nine members, including a representative for the WOW sub-committee, and there are currently nine Committee members: Stewart Adkins (Chairman), Liz Chapman, Trevor Drury (Business Manager), Paul Goddard (Production Manager), Anita Goold (Treasurer), Emma Loring, Annette Maguire, Ben Sawyer and Matthew Waldie (Secretary). All these current members of the Committee are willing to stand for re-election. Anyone wishing to be considered for a position as a full committee member under Item 7 is welcome to put their name forward and will need to have a proposer and a seconder.
As usual, apologies for absence may either be emailed or telephoned through to me.
At a virtual WAOS committee meeting on Monday night we agreed that we would postpone Annie Get Your Gun until April 2021. We felt that the likelihood of being allowed to open WPH for a show this October is slim indeed. Social distancing will likely remain a key weapon in the defence of the individual from infection for some time and maintaining distance between members of the audience is conducive to neither an artistic nor financial success. Of course there are no guarantees we will be able to proceed in April 2021 but the chances must surely be much higher. If you have not already responded on Facebook please can you let me know if you will be available in April 2021 and the rehearsals that precede it. I am sorry to be the bearer of such news but I imagine it is not a complete surprise.
On Monday evening the WAOS Committee met, mainly to discuss our response to the rapidly-changing threat from coronavirus.
Our primary aim is to keep our members, friends and volunteers safe and we quickly concluded that "social distancing" was totally incompatible with running rehearsals and putting on a show. Just before our meeting the UK government announced that "everyone should avoid gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres" and at the end of our meeting Witham Public Hall Trust announced that they were "having to suspend shows for a while" in the first instance until the end of April.
You will not be surprised therefore that
WAOS has suspended rehearsals for the foreseeable future and are exploring the possibility of postponing Annie Get Your Gun until our regular October show date (26-31 October). This is not as simple as you might think, requiring renegotiation of the rights for not just one but the next three shows, ensuring availability of contracted directors and musical directors, as well as being certain that our wonderful cast can still commit to Annie Get Your Gun later in the year and an intensive rehearsal schedule from September until show week. All of this is subject to government advice on when we can return to a normal way of life.
In the meantime we have cancelled both the
Barn Dance, which was scheduled for 28th March, and the AGM, which was scheduled for Monday March 23. In a separate email I will send you the information you would have received at the AGM - last year's minutes including WAOS and WOW Chairmans' reports, this year's Chairmans' reports, the Treasurer's report and the accounts for 2019 (which have been inspected by our auditor). We will endeavour to reschedule an AGM when the government advice allows, or failing that find an online solution. We have to have achieved all of this before our submission of accounts and Trustee Report to the Charity Commission before the end of October.
Whatever happens to the timing of Annie Get Your Gun and any negative financial consequences that may result from postponement, rest assured that WAOS is financially secure and well able to survive it. Our goal is to get back on track as soon we are allowed and we hope we can count on your loyalty and support through these difficult times. Please keep track of the WAOS website and Facebook group page - we may have some surprises for you during our enforced temporary retirement.
WAOS are proud to receive the NODA award for Best Musical and Best Production for "Sister Act” at the Regional Awards ceremony held on Sunday 8th March.
Many congratulations to Director Robyn Gowers, AD Gemma Gray, MD Emma Nash, the fabulous Cast and all the supporting Crew, FOH, Costumes, Props, Sound, Lighting, Chaperones, Make-up and everyone involved!
The weekend of Sept 28/29 saw 16 members of WAOS/WOW engaged in a thoroughly enjoyable process to create a list of scenes and characters for our very own musical. We were guided through a process of devising a drama by professional drama practitioner, Sarah Osbourne, who runs her own production company, Yew Tree Productions in Yorkshire. Starting off with various drama games to shake off our inhibitions and then opening our minds to imaginative thinking using the “yes and” rather than “no but” technique we made rapid progress.
Our basic theme was the Fires of Witham in 1828. This series of fires in Witham culminated in the hanging of 16 year old James Cooke and the transportation of 19 year old Edmund Potto. You might think that the ingredients for a musical were lacking here but under expert guidance we not only came up with three variations of 14-16 scenes but also identified sufficient male
and female characters to satisfy our society’s needs. We even created a working title “The Flames of Injustice” that captures the drama of the play as well as the direct reference to both the fires and the social injustices that perhaps led to the arson attacks as well as the brutal sentencing of a 16 year old boy.
Our next step is to commission a script based on our list of scenes and characters and to find a local musician willing to work with the playwright to compose the songs and their lyrics.
We are aiming for an October 2022 production to celebrate our centenary.
Wish us luck.
On Friday September 20th WAOS and WOW hosted the first ever WAOScars event - an evening where we celebrated the achievements and successes of our members over the last 12 months and acknowledged the huge debt of gratitude we owe to all of our members, friends,volunteers and supporters without whom we could not survive. Almost 100 people attended this event which included a cabaret from members of WAOS and WOW, a fantastic tapas meal by The Little Catalan Catering company and the presentation of many awards.
Trevor Drury set up an amazing screen on the stage which not only showed the photographs and names of nominees and winners but also allowed all participants to witness the results of a live voting system using a smartphone. 75 members logged onto the voting website giving the lie to the notion that older members don't "do technology".
WAOS is proud to announce the following nominations for NETG awards.
Congratulations to all those nominated.
This lively evening will include entertainment (hopefully from members of WOW, past and present) and food while the cash bar will be open for drinks. The climax of the evening will be the presentation of a series of awards both fun and serious, to members and friends of WAOS/WOW, whether they have been involved on-stage or off. This is the premiere of this type of event and if successful could become a regular addition to the WAOS/WOW calendar. Put the date in your diary and wait for formal invitations nearer the event.
WAOS hopes to write and perform a musical in time for its centenary celebrations in 2022. This is a bold and innovative challenge that will require significant help and support from our members, as well as from external professionals. We have already developed a preliminary theme (based on the Witham Fires in the early 19th century) and have engaged a professional, expert in developing new drama, to work with us during a weekend of workshops to flesh out plots, sub-plots, characters and characterisations so that we can work towards a draft script. The music will come afterwards. Given the space and logistical constraints in managing a creative process we are limited to 25 participants who can devote both Saturday and Sunday to this project. It is a significant time commitment but I promise you will have a ball and learn huge amounts about yourself and the creative process. This is perhaps a unique opportunity that we offer to our own members initially before widening the net. Please let me know if you would like to be involved. Stewart Adkins
There is one other nominee for the Best Technical production and two others for Best Musical. The final announcement of the winners of these and other categories will be at the NODA East awards event on May 12 at Wicksteed Park, Kettering. If any member would like to represent WAOS and pick up a trophy, should we be successful, please contact Stewart Adkins at email@example.com.
The WAOS Committee can confirm that it has selected and obtained licences for shows through to October 2020. We are delighted to share these with you now and welcome any questions you may have. We have selected Artistic Directors and Musical Directors for the first two shows but are still in the selection phase for the remaining shows. If you have any suggestions please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Director and Musical Director – Thomas Duchan.
Director Robyn Gowers, Musical Director – Emma Firth
Following the discussion at the WAOS AGM about the audition process and the proposal that the committee consider a variable membership fee structure for “new” members vs established members, we have conducted a survey of 35 NODA-affiliated musical theatre groups. This is to establish what most societies do now and to discover if there are ideas we could apply to WAOS. Please read through the survey (click here) and feel free to ask me any questions you may have. The committee is still considering ways to differentiate between established members and newcomers without deterring them or making them feel unwelcome. We hope to introduce a small change to the financial arrangements surrounding the audition process for our next show, Iolanthe.
Stewart Adkins. Chairman
WAOS is proud to announce the following nominations for NETG awards
Our youth group WOW has also received the following nominations
The award was made at the NODA East AGM on Sunday May 13th. 2018
Rhianna Howard collected the award on WAOS behalf.
In a live interview with Tony Fisher on BBC Essex Radio today (approx 15.15) Kath Adkins was asked about the next show at WAOS. She mentioned Cinderella by Rodgers and Hammerstein (not a pantomime!) and invited everyone interested in learning more about this show to attend the Open Evening on May 2 at Spring Lodge from 19.30. This show will be directed by Claire Carr, who made her directing debut at WAOS with Return to the Forbidden Planet. James Tovey will be returning as MD. However, WAOS shall be investing in Realtime Music Solutions software that allows every cast member to get a digital download of their vocal part. They can then learn their parts and harmonies at their leisure. This means that note-bashing will be supplementary rather than the sole means of learning the music. This is an experiment on our part but we hope that all members of the company will take advance of this (at no cost to them) and enjoy the boost in confidence this should provide.
If you wish to learn more about Cinderella please come along to the Open Evening with no obligation. Wine and nibbles may tempt you further to enjoy a social evening. We do not restrict our invitation to cast members. We would love to see anyone interested in helping backstage, Front of House or in any other capacity.
In the meantime this is the text from the R&H website about Cinderella (Enchanted Version).
WAOS is proud to announce the following nominations for NETG awards
Our youth group WOW has also received the following nominations
The awards ceremony is on September 9th, Princes Theatre, Clacton at 7:30pm and costs £11.00 to attend. If you would like to attend this event please contact Stewart Adkins.