Reflections

Written by John Cotgrave

Reflections – A year in review – D&L 2016

2016 has garnered a reputation for loss, disappointment and sadness. Many will be thankful that its journey is at an end and will be looking for a more hopeful and happier ride into the new year.

For Dick & Lottie it has been a different story. We’ve had an incredible year – one of our best if I’m honest.

We’ve produced 4 plays- 3 of which were toured to Malvern and Bracknell.
“Neighbourhood Watch”
“Wildest Dreams”
“Woman in Mind”
“Invisible Friends”

We gained a patronage with Simon and the official Alan Ayckbourn Website.

We launched our own website – dickandlottie.com

The company was registered with Companies House earlier this year and we now have a board of directors.

We have been invited and accepted to be a member of the LBT’s Theatre Users.
We started the year rehearsing “Neighbourhood Watch”. Premiered in 2011 it has become a favourite with companies up and down the country. We chose to stage AA75 as we had secured Monty the garden gnome from the SJT in 2015 and it was a personal favourite of Richard’s. During the run at the LBT we welcomed Simon for the first time. He had previously seen our work when we took “Private Fears in Public Places” over to Alan’s rehearsal room, but this was a first in our home town. After the performance he offered the patronage – which is recognition for the high standard of work we achieve with Alan’s work and the continued success we have with our patrons in Huddersfield.

“Neighbourhood Watch” was then toured to Malvern and Bracknell. It was our first visit to Malvern and the response was warm and encouraging. A beautiful small venue which suits the needs of our work perfectly. Our return visit to Bracknell saw all performances sell out and receive fabulous feedback from all that came to support us. Our opening week at the LBT achieved 100% capacity.

We welcomed three new members to D&L for this production – Poppy, Gemma and Roy.

At the end of February we took an empty van over to Scarborough and filled it with the set for “Improbable Fiction”, “Roundelay” and other bits and bobs. The set for “Improbable Fiction” is going out on the road in a fortnight as we loan it out for others to delight in this great play. In the summer it’ll be seen at The Mill in Sonning and D&L will be given a small credit in the programme. It’s great to build new relationships and support others in a time of struggle and austerity.

In June we staged one of my all time favourite Ayckbourn plays – “Wildest Dreams”. An ensemble piece from 1991 with dark themes and subject matter. It was hugely successful and achieved 100% capacity. I’m thrilled that a lesser known title reached a new audience. The play was sensitively and beautifully crafted by a talented and committed ensemble satisfying my every whim with one of my all time AA favourites.

During the summer months we finished the mammoth task of work on the website and it went live early September. If you’ve not had a look please do – dickandlottie.com

Huge thanks to James for his creativity and hard work.

We’ve been a little quiet on the website over the festive break, but in the new year there will be lots of blogs and interesting posts about “Roundelay”.

Towards the end of August we started rehearsing a challenging project – one cast, two plays – “Woman in Mind” and “Invisible Friends”. It affectionately became known as the double bill. The rehearsal period was intense and challenging. Two actors took the brunt of the work – Maria and Alice. Both undertook the challenge with vigour and created two iconic performances which will be ever remembered in the history of the company. Truly memorable and a very rewarding experience for them, the company and our patrons.

During the double bill production week, we had our first post show talk with Simon and welcomed a small yet appreciative audience. It was at this event we were acquainted with a fellow Ayckbournite, Geoff.

Both plays reached 100% capacity in Huddersfield which was wonderful, particularly for “Invisible Friends” as this was one of Alan’s lesser known plays and one for a family audience.

We toured both plays to Malvern and Bracknell. Audience numbers were up at Malvern with some of the most wonderful feedback we’ve ever received. People there were very kind and shared their thoughts via email/social networks etc… Bracknell was a disappointment in terms of capacity, but the small audience we were privileged to perform to were amazing. During our visit to Malvern we had a surprise visit from Mel and Mark – it was truly lovely to see you again and I hope it’s not too long before we do it again.

For this double bill we welcomed several younger members to the company – Alice, Adam, Iwan and Joe.

We end the year with a new ensemble and rehearsing AA 78 “Roundelay”. A play which offers a very exciting opportunity for our patrons. It also starts our first season of plays – The Plays of Chance season. For “Roundelay” the audience will chose the running order each night/matinee. There are a possible 120 combinations and each order of play will offer our patrons something to chew on and marvel at the technical wonder of this play. We have rehearsed 3/5 plays so far and they have been been fascinating to develop and discuss/explore how they all fit with each other.

We welcome to newcomers to this production – Tanya and Mike. Mike was my personal tutor when I was at University and it was a nervous first rehearsal – for us both – when we started “The Judge”. We must be doing something right as he’s agreed to do “Sisterly Feelings”.

You can imagine that after an incredibly busy and successful year we’re both shattered. From Monday 2nd we hit the road running with getting “Roundelay” ready for production week towards the end of January. We are also touring this play to Malvern and to the Wimbledon New Theatre Studio. This is a prestigious venue in London and that brings with it a different approach and work load.

In June we’re staging “Sisterly Feelings” – one cast, two plays and a flip of a coin in the first 20 mins will determine which play the audience will see that performance.

Tickets are on sale for both “Roundelay” and “Sisterly Feelings” at the LBT and “Roundelay” in Wimbledon.

There is the workshop/rehearsed reading of “House and Garden” in March. Many new actors will be joining us for this and I’m very excited to be working with new actors for future D&L productions. Incidentally, if you would like to be involved in this workshop there’s still time – drop me a message.

So 2017 is shaping up to be just as busy and hopefully just as successful.

All that remains for me to say is THANK YOU to our actors/stage managers/technical staff/patrons and all friends that have made this year one to remember.

Happy New Year!