The Faces of 2017

There were no major upsets at Monday night's Annual General Meeting of Woy Woy Little Theatre that saw Christine Vale returned as President, Penny Dilworth returned as Treasurer and Chris Cherry returned as Secretary.

The three head positions were returned unopposed, as were other committee members: Andrew Thomson (Vice President), Fran Armstrong (Production Manager), Lloyd Grounds (Technical Officer), and Jan Grounds (Social Secretary).

After a five year innings, David Wicks retired as Marketing Manager with Graham Vale relinquishing Publicity to take that role. Wicks will promote David Williamson's "When Dad Married Fury" and Neil Simon's "Rumors" before handing the reins over to Mr Vale.

Three positions remain unfilled - Front of House (left vacant by the stepping down of Shea Wicks), Publicity Officer and Set Designer.

President's Report – Woy Woy Little Theatre AGM 2017
Once again, Woy Woy Little Theatre presented our audiences and members with a fabulous range of theatrical productions from short plays, to comedies and thrillers.

Humble Boy
Our first production of 2016 was Charlotte Jones’ Humble Boy. It was wonderfully directed by Annie Bilton who had a real passion for this play. She had great support from Bob Farmer as SM, Troy Clune as ASM, and Lloyd Ground as Tech with Ros Bonser’s help. There was also a beautiful garden set designed by Daryl Kirkness, GMS’S set design guru.

This black comedy had audiences “buzzing" as it was both touching and intriguing. The characters were complex, and multi-layered, and the story was carefully woven together – and it was funny. That is a big ask for any play, and Humble Boy delivered.

Keith Conway, as Felix Humble, took on his first lead role with WWLT, and rose to the demands of this challenging and troubled character. He faced off on-stage against Yvonne Berry-Porter, who played his domineering mother, Flora. They were wonderfully supported by Greg Buist as George, Flora’s very eager boyfriend; Sierra Phillips as Felix’s dumped, former girlfriend Rosie; Paul Russell as Jim the gardener, with a truly green thumb; and Terry Collins as Mercy, Flora’s put-upon friend, whose cooking, some might like to avoid.

Dinkum Assorted
The multi-talented Fran Kendall took on the role of director, musical director and on-stage pianist for the Australian, all-woman play by Linda Aronson, Dinkum Assorted. This touching, World-War II story brought a colourful assortment of Australian characters together, just like a box of Dinkum Biscuits. In addition to that, this production put original Aussie songs and the occasional dance number on stage and the cast looked stunning in glittering, show-stopping costumes, by Douglas Kent (also ASM). Bob Farmer, as SM, stepped-in during the production, and as always, managed to keep everything running smoothly back-stage. (No mean feat with all those women!) Penny Dilworth lit up the stage by taking on the role of Tech for Dinkum. 

There was plenty of rivalry between the feisty women in the Dinkum biscuit departments, as well as a genuine war story that both “struck a chord” with audiences and had them laughing out loud. The very talented all-singing, all-dancing cast included Pamela Brown, Helen Herridge, Kathryn Peterson, Shea Wicks, Wendy deBeyer, Chris Cherry, Lianne Haddock, Teanau Mason, Ann Wilden, Amelia Newell-Close and Catie Elgood – the “Women of Australia”! And David Wicks' fabulous photography of the women in lines and circles deserves a special mention as I think it was just a treat!

Wait Until Dark
Thrills and chills went through the audiences during the third production of the year, Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott. Penny Dilworth swapped hats, to direct this classic thriller. She was wonderfully supported by Ros Bonser as SM, with the assistance by Vicki Sidoti and Michael Sheather backstage, and Lloyd Grounds as Tech.

Sierra Phillips rose to the occasion when she took on the pivotal role of the blind Suzy Hendrix, wife of photographer Sam, played by first-time actor with WWLT, Michael Sheather. With the help of her young neighbour, Gloria, played by new young talent Evie Mealing, Suzy had to fend off three con-men, Steve Cummings as Mike, John Lusty as Carlino, and Adam Young as the evil, cut-throat (literally), Roat. Audiences were captivated as the tension grew and grew, and you could hear audible gasps at the climax in the final scene.

Absurd Person Singular
The year finished off with lots of laughs and some not-so-well-choreographed dancing in Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular. Part way through the production, Director Andrew Thomson had to step into the role of Sidney, so Jan Grounds came on board as Assistant Director and together, they made a great team. Then, we were fortunate that Blair Cunningham joined us to be SM, and with a few helpers, she coordinated the intricate manipulation of the set to convert it to three quite different kitchens. No mean feat!

This was a true ensemble piece of changing fortunes in the lives of three couples over three Christmas parties. Judi Jones shone as the fastidious Jane, always wanting to please her up-and-coming husband, Sidney, played energetically by Andrew. Sidney finally takes control the others in the final dance, and he could also get a job as a plumber. Aiden Cuddington aptly played the put-upon, bank manager, Ronald. He had to put up with sarcastic, eccentric, gin-swilling Marion that I played. Kelli Ward showed her acting range as she started as the depressed suicidal Eva who spent all of Act 2 trying to kill herself without uttering a word, but then turned herself around and to take control of herself and her wayward, failed architect husband Geoffrey, played delightfully by Mike Jeffries.

FLASH Festival 2016
For the third year in a row, the FLASH Festival gave Central Coast writers, directors and actors the opportunity to showcase their talents. We changed the format of the workshops, so that each person involved was more closely mentored about their specific script for FLASH. This seemed to work well for participants.

Fran Armstrong took over as the Convenor of FLASH, and had a huge amount of support from Chris Cherry with much of the behind-the-scenes communication, of which there is a huge amount. Special thanks to both of them. Putting on FLASH 2016 involved more than 80 people, including 35 writers, 4 play assessors, 10 directors, 2 judges, 25 actors, 1 SM, 1 ASM, 1 very busy Tech, and a herd of WWLT Committee and other members behind the scenes and front-of-house.

In 2016, we also used the data projector and screen for the first time, which added another dimension for directors, if they chose to use it.

Once again, the quality of the plays and performances was outstanding. It was great to involve many existing members and to welcome several new participants, some who have gone on to be involved in other productions. Jack and Jill Went on A Date, written by Andrew Thomson and directed by Jessica Alex won both Best Production and the People’s Choice Award in 2016.

I suppose what I remember most about the FLASH Workshops and Festival over the last three years, is the way it brings people together to create artistic opportunities and comradery. That was one of the original aims, and I feel we’ve definitely achieved that. The joy at the awards ceremony for everyone involved is the evidence of that. Everyone wins!

FLASH Community Engagement Project 2017
Last weekend (10-12 February), we launched 2017 with a change to FLASH. We decided to rest the Festival in 2017, and instead focus on a Community Engagement Project which came in the form of The Laramie Project at WWLT. This was a project passionately directed by Jessica Alex, and magnificently supported by Tech Lloyd Grounds and SM Patrice Horne. It was based on a real hate crime and what it means to be a community. It was a very powerful piece of theatre. It culminated in a special Q&A session that showed the power of the community that was developed within the cast and crew, but also reached out to the wider community. Once again, this is what we hoped to achieve as FLASH community engagement.

We’re looking to expand on different types of special FLASH projects, such as other Community Arts Projects, so if you have ideas, let us know.

Thanks, Christine



Date Posted: Monday February 13, 2017. 

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