Animals, Adaptations, Armistice, Achievement and Ambition
By Deryck, Chief Exec of LTWT
I’ve always been a sucker for alliteration so the themes of this season’s blog focus around the letter ‘A’.
I can’t promise to work my way through the alphabet in each successive blog for the next 9 years (I write one a season and we have three seasons a year!), however it seems like a fun idea!
It was inspired by the recent children’s production of Animalphabet which we presented at the end of May and which was thoroughly enjoyed by our audiences; “A truly outstanding, fun packed show”.
I picked up that show from my visit to the Edinburgh Fringe and I look forward to bringing back some gems to Winchester when I visit again this August.
Animals crop up a fair bit in our autumn season, often, but not exclusively in our performances for children and their families.
We have Tabby McTat, the Lion from How to Hide a Lion, The Fly and all the rest of them in There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly, the Bing characters (are they animals?!) and, of course, Little and Big Nutbrown Hare from Guess How Much I Love You. That book holds a special place in my heart as I vividly remember (as do my now grown up kids) reading it to them when they were little. We still “love each other to the moon and back” as I am sure so many families do.
Programming work for families to enjoy together is a core part of our programming strategy here at Live Theatre Winchester Trust – both at The Theatre Royal and at Hat Fair. We are committed to introducing young people to the joy of live performance early and to encouraging families to connect and spend quality time together with shared experiences creating shared memories.
We are also delighted, on the animals theme, to be welcoming the well known TV wildlife cameraman and presenter to the Theatre Royal in November with his globetrotting recollections and film; Animal Families and Me.
Animals also creep into the rest of the programme via Leviathan the brilliant Dance Theatre re-imagining of the novel Moby Dick. The whale is extraordinarily represented by the ensemble of remarkable dancers. I am particularly keen to see this again as I recently had the honour of witnessing sperm whales in the Atlantic – Amazing creatures!
Of course Leviathan is an adaptation and I actively look for work where one art form is interpreting another or where art forms collide or blend to create something new from an old source. So, I am delighted to present Fagin’s Twist, where the familiar Oliver Twist story is reconsidered from Fagin’s perspective and told for us through brilliantly evocative narrative dance theatre with hip hop movement and spoken word at its root.
We are also proud to present an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion in the city in which she is laid to rest.
Finally, the autumn of 2018, fittingly sees a week long run of Private Peaceful, the deeply moving stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s most famous novel (well – along with War Horse now I guess thanks to the power of theatre!).
This production forms part of our acknowledgment of the 1918 Armistice. Another show I found in Edinburgh last year, and which does just that too, is Not About Heroes, on with us for one night only and exploring the complex relationship between the two remarkable war poets, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.
We also present the Astor Big Band’s Miller Plays the Musicals which will reflect this anniversary too and is in support of The Royal British Legion.
Then, on 11th November exactly, 100 years to the day since Armistice Day we bring together Michael Pennington, Sian Phillips and John Miller for a special evening of readings and recitals in The Armistice Centenary Recalled.
So, that’s Animals, Adaptations and Armistice; what about Achievement and Ambition?
Well, you may have seen in the paper that we did succeed in bringing the organisation, a charity, out of deficit in 2017-18. What the paper didn’t say was that this was only possible with the tremendous support of both Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council as well as the extraordinary hard work and dedication of the whole staff team.
What it also didn’t say was that this is only the first step in a 4 year plan to build the sustainability and resilience of this charity for the benefit of the people of Winchester, Hampshire and beyond.
As part of that achievement last year we were delighted that Peter Pan, our panto, brought in record box office receipts for us. Panto is such a vital part of the business model for an arts organisation like ours so I do hope everyone will support us by bringing your family and friends to Beauty and the Beast this year. We have recently cast it and are delighted by the group we have working on this year’s panto; some familiar faces and some new talent too.
That just leaves me with Ambition.
Any good organisation needs to be ambitious and we are delighted to have created a brand new role of Head of Creative Learning and appointed a brilliant new member of the team to the role. Jo starts in August and we all look forward to working with her as we redesign and refresh our community engagement and creative learning work.
We are also progressing our plans around our rebranding and our building development projects.
During our Open Day on Saturday 15 September there will be special sessions which invite the community – you – to come along, find out more and express your views and opinions.
This will help us shape the future of Live Theatre Winchester Trust for you.
I do hope you can come to that day and that you find plenty to enjoy in our full and varied autumn season.
The final A word of this blog is ‘Advocacy’. If you enjoy what we offer, tell a friend, encourage your neighbours to come, give them a brochure, bring them along.
I look forward to meeting you all!
Deryck Newland (CEO)