2017 April AGM and meeting report

Sussex Playwrights 82nd AGM April 2017

Sussex Playwrights 2017 AGM Minutes and April meeting report

Chair and Secretary’s joint report
Philippa Hammond and Thomas Everchild

An interesting year, beginning with a proposal at the 2016 AGM to wind the club up – which happily did not happen.

We relaunched in June 2016 with a mixture of our traditional activities and new events. We welcomed 7 new members and featured performances and rehearsed readings of new work and work in progress. Our Christmas party featured a fiendish quiz by Thomas.

The Constance Cox prize playwriting competition attracted 48 entries. The reading team has produced a longlist, are currently working on the shortlist and will then announce the winners. A few did not meet the brief or were not up to standard, others were judged as good writing, with 12 plays going through to the longlist.

New events included a talk by Thomas on the Self Publishing Writer – insights on how to publish your own work, which several members have done. Philippa also held a First Five Pages workshop, featuring scripts from the previous year’s competition discussed for initial impressions.

Interviews and performances included a presentation from Guy Wah and Sarah Johnson of Hove Grown, the TV screenwriter James Payne, Simon Moorhead [producer TBC Audio] and actor/writer Rose Collis. Doug Devaney and Ross Gurney-Randall presented an excerpt from their Fringe show Ross and Doug Present Scenes From The Life And Death Of Lord Haw Haw, Britain’s Most Patriotic Traitor after the AGM.

Thomas has designed and launched the new website this year:

www.sussexplaywrights.co.uk

He explained that it is based on the WordPress blog/journal system, and is quick and easy to update on mobile phone. All entries have their own page so can be linked on Twitter and Facebook. An increasing number of people are coming to us from the Facebook page [286] and Twitter [899]. We’re catching up with the NVT. Over the next few months the site will have a history of the group from 1938 onwards, plus we’ll be experimenting with podcasts.

We’ve extended our reach, and have networked with groups abroad through Twitter and Facebook.

We’re also looking at print on demand services which will allow you to buy tshirts and mugs with the SPC logo.

For next year’s Constance Cox competition, we’re considering a short play competition with performances in next year’s festival as part of the prize. Entry is still free to members, and we will look at making the entry charge for non members the current membership fee, to attract new members.

We’ve been busy networking. After Guy and Sarah’s presentation, we found that some 11 shows in March 2017’s Hove Grown festival had direct contacts with Sussex Playwrights, and we’re looking to keep our good relationship with them into 2018 and beyond. Congratulations everyone who took part in Hove Grown.

We’ve made connections with Simon Moorhead and TBC Audio – several writer and actor members of SPC collaborated with Simon on projects over the last year.

Thomas and Philippa own Brighton Actors Networking Facebook Group and Page [some 1700 members]. We’re advertising for readers through the group, to attract a wider spread of readers. We’ll be reading the winning CC competition scripts and others too, with the winners recorded with actors in a recording studio and available online.

Simon Jenner asked if the £12 membership is correct for new members – yes. We have had special offers over the last few years, and current members are not being charged at the moment.

He also noted the old website is still online and asked if we are looking to upload old archives. Philippa and Thomas advised that this is ongoing – it takes a long time but they are preserved and will be transferred when possible to the new site.

If you have any ideas for events you’d like to see, or any pieces to showcase or workshop – please let us know.

Thank you to all those who came and took part in meetings and events, and to the committee for their staunch support last year and previously.

Chair and secretary’s report was proposed and seconded [difficult to tell from recording] and unanimously accepted.

Treasurer’s Report
Jerry Attwood

Jerry presented a poster with the figures.

Competition
In: £273 competition entry fees from 39 entries. Out: £275 our prizes. Virtually broke even, probably for the first time. Well done to Philippa and Thomas for the popular competition format.

£40 donation to Springboard
£50 thankyou gift to Paul Moriarty
£448 stock write off – old leaflets, no longer viable.

£364 in, £1359 out – includes pre AGM 2016 meal £127 and Christmas party £130. = £995 deficit.

Capital – £5022 in Building Society and £131 in Bank [agreed by Philippa]

Suggested we continued our policy of no ongoing membership fees till funds are round £2500 level then think about reintroducing fees – possibly 5-6 years.

Thank you letter from Paul Moriarty was read out. Note – Paul has worked on Simon’s projects, so we are still connected.

Cherie Cherchie asked why let the funds go down – why not charge a small ongoing membership fee of £2-3. Jerry explained it was to encourage existing members to stay as when it went up from £8 to £12, some were up in arms. Confirmed that new members are charged £12 to come in, but no continuing membership fee. Thomas mentioned that we would ideally make a profit in a few years with some work and thinking.

Accounts adopted – Simon Jenner proposed, and Deborah Knowles seconded, all in favour.

Motions – none received. No-one wanted to raise anything for discussion.

Re-elections

Philippa thanked the 2016-17 committee

Chair – Philippa re-elected [Proposed Thomas Everchild, seconded Cherie Cherchie, unanimous]

Secretary – Thomas re-elected

Vice Chair – Rob Cohen elected [Proposed Simon Jenner, seconded Murray Hecht – unanimous]

Treasurer – Jerry Attwood re-elected [unanimous]

Committee Members – Simon Moorhead, Judy Upton, Jenny Rowe, John Dutton, Cherie Cherchie, Simon Jenner elected [Thomas Everchild proposed, Philippa Hammond seconded – unanimous]. Further members may be co-opted.

Philippa asked that all Committee members familiar with social media please help promote events online.

AOB – none.

AGM Concluded.

Members’ News

Judy Upton – half hour play Tough Times, Difficult Decisions is performed at the Jermyn St Theatre London next week Tuesday and Wednesday

Christine Foster – Mixed Doubles II is performed at the Coach House Rottingdean 20-22 April

Simon Moorhead – Producing a new play Protect and Survive at the Brighton Fringe – a warning note on the nuclear Pandora’s Box and the current world situation, inspired by BBC 1980s play Threads. Directed by Thomas Everchild, featuring Philippa Hammond and a cast of actors from the area. Tickets are going fast. 9-15 May 5.30pm at Sweet St Andrews’ Waterloo Street

Jenny Rowe – Maydays present three improvised plays inspired by Tim Burton at the Warren 18-20 May

See details of all news in Brighton Fringe brochure www.brightonfringe.org

We’re busy joining the dots between Sussex Playwrights, Brighton Actors Networking, Shooting People, Brighton Film Makers Coalition and TBC Audio, to make Brighton a force to be reckoned with.

Part two of the April meeting featured an entertaining performance from Doug Devaney and Ross Gurney-Randall – an excerpt from their Fringe show, followed by Q and A and audience discussion.

Review by Simon Jenner:

Ross and Doug Present Scenes From The Life And Death Of Lord Haw Haw, Britain’s Most Patriotic Traitor

Ross Gurney-Randall and Doug Devaney gave an extraordinarily spirited series of excerpts from their play about William Joyce. Scenes might be too delicate and (dis)respectful of the deconstruction we were offered. This may be a chronological survey of a chronically unpleasant man but we’re not going to be dragged through decades forwards when backwards is more fun.Nevertheless in these snapshots of a man’s early life a glimmering of motive is more than nudged.

Gurney-Randall makes it clear he doesn’t want to be William Joyce so we’re not left guessing about who’s been foisted onto the role. That name rings – yes it’s the traitor Lord Haw-Haw. Think National Theatre of Brent meets Gurney-Randall’s take on traitors: remember his way with them in A Private Audience With Henry VIII in 2015’s Fringe?

Joyce was born of Irish parents in 1906, but in the USA; Joyce however is never registered as an American, which would have been useful later on. When they relocate to Ireland the Civil War pushes Joyce in 1921 to take the British side, and one scene has a couple of edgily stage Irishmen arguing whether to kill a fifteen-year old informer or not. Sad choice. The Joyce family now marked decamp fast, and Joyce grows up moving to the far right politically. He’s several times taken and renewed British passports and indeed doesn’t take up a German one till it’s war, in 1940, which by then is a treacherous act. On such stretches of law stretch necks. At this point we broke off.

Gurney-Randall’s avuncular menace is wondrously suited to all kind of shock savagery, and one laments he’ll only be a hangman once here, he’s clearly born for such roles. In this one he’s also the fact-finder, the obsessively accurate would-be historian, countering Devaney’s wayward sprite and continual carpings. Devaney’s thoroughly shifty and argumentative, and their timing in fact is superb. Devaney starts a grievance rolling and Gurney-Randall tosses it back harrumphing.

Devaney’s role is to tell truth but tell it slant, thus disrupt the action because his disruptive imagination challenges Gurney-Randall‘s neatly linear sense of things. This is where the personalities of story-tellers a la Brent disrupts the characters the storytellers interrupt themselves playing. A continual sense of overhearing is cardinal to the show, one that one hopes can never quite manage to conclude. It’ll leave us dangling though for the main event.

Easily one of the most spirited run-throughs I’ve seen, it was more than a free preview and after-event talk. Sussex Playwrights continues its upward path, enlivening itself with events like these.

Simon Jenner

Next meeting

Our Brighton Festival-time event on May 7th features the playwright, screenwriter and novelist William Nicholson in conversation on writing for stage, page and screen. [Shadowlands / Gladiator / Les Miserables].

Website: www.williamnicholson.com

IMDB entry: www.imdb.com/name/nm0629933/