Looking back…

Encore Theatre Company (ETC) began life as Featherstone and District Amateur Musical and Dramatics Society (FADAMADS) in 1944 and in its 70+ year history has performed at many venues, some notable including Wakefield Theatre Royal and Bridlington Spa, and some quite wacky including Featherstone Baths and the canteen of a liquorice factory! before settling at their current home at the Phoenix Theatre, Castleford.

The company changed its name in the mid 1990’s to reflect the wider ranging origins of its membership, and to give a more professional image of the society to reflect the quality of its productions.

It has over the years produced many notable shows, having been thePicture1 first amateur society to be granted a licence to perform “Jesus Christ Superstar” (but was the fourth to present it), a North East premiere, the Yorkshire amateur premiere of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and the national premiere of “The King with Cold Feet”.

Most recently, the society presented a show that was possibly the first time a living person has had a show about them, produced in their home town, whilst they were still alive.  The show being the award winning “Spend, Spend, Spend”, the story of the late Viv Nicholson.  Another notable production recently was that of “Calendar Girls”, and the company were pleased to welcome two of the original “Girls” to one of the performances.

The company continues to present innovative productions with many of its pantomimes being written by its members, and its main shows featuring custom built scenery that challenges the imagination of its audiences and adds to the professionalism of the cast members to create performances to remember

Since the first production over 70 years ago, our theatre company have performed a wide range of shows from traditional musicals such as Oklahoma to shows with local links such as Spend Spend Spend
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Why not send us your past and present memories of ETC shows you have either attended or performed in and if you have them send us a photograph. We will feature them in a future blog post sharing your memories and good times with us at Encore Theatre Company.

 

Email us here with your shared pictures and memories!

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Meet The Committee Part 2

Welcome back to our second instalment of Meet the Committee blog posts.
This week we meet our Secretary Mrs Clare Heins

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How long have you been a member of Encore Theatre Company?

Just over 22 years (I was very young when I joined!!!!)

When and why did you join ETC?

As a child I had always gone to watch Kippax Amateur Operatic Society perform their shows and Pantomimes and longed to be part of something similar. I joined the then Featherstone Amateur and Operatic Society in September 1994 for a Christmas Cabaret after being introduced by a friend and former member Adam Fletcher.

 

Do you have any favourite show/s you have performed in?

I have really enjoyed taking part in many shows over the last 22 years, but my favourites have to be playing Laurie in Oklahoma, an urchin in Little Shop of Horrors which had to be the most challenging vocally so far and Carrie in Carousel, which has to be my funniest part to date!!

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Clare as one of the urchins in’Little Shop Of Horrors’

Tell us your favourite role/s? (Past roles and dream ones)

Would love to play Maria in The Sound of Music, it has been my favourite musical since I was a child.

How long have you served on the committee?

I have been on Committee for 21 years.

What was your reason for joining the committee?

I was co-opted on to committee as a Young Persons Representative and have stayed on since, taking on a variety of roles.

Your role and responsibilities?

I now have the role of Secretary on the committee and I am responsible for the administrative demands of the Society, e.g. correspondence, licencing shows, hiring rehearsal equipment. More recently I have taken on the responsibility for the liaison with the theatre. I also organise and co-ordinate many of the social fundraising activities throughout the year.

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Clare as Carrie in ‘Carousel’

Describe a task you have completed for this year’s committee?

This year I have been dealing with the licensing for our 2016 and 2017 shows, liaising with the license holders regarding the restrictions/conditions of each individual license and coordinating the hire of rehearsal materials for our upcoming show in June 2016 Bad Girls.

What are the main challenges facing the committee?

There are lots of challenges facing the committee each year, but the main one is financing two shows a year. The costs of putting on a show are growing and the expenditure often exceeds the income, so we have to work hard fundraising throughout the year to try and raise the money to cover any loss. This year’s show Bad Girls is a less well known show so it is the committee’s challenge to come up with the best way of promoting it so that we fill the seats!! However, we are a strong and dedicated committee and always face these challenges head on!!!

Thank you for taking part in our blog Clare and telling us all about your role on committee.

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‘Say Cheese’

Over the past nine years Encore Theatre Company have been very lucky to have our publicity photographs for upcoming productions taken by Mr Roy Hampson who has also photographed our rehearsals and dress rehearsals live on stage. This gives us and you our audience the chance to relive the show again through his talents.
We asked Roy for a little introduction into his photography and his work with Encore with the idea of putting a face to the man behind the camera!

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Roy Hampson-Encore Theatre Company Photographer for 9 years.

Once a disgruntled magazine reader went to the trouble of writing a letter especially to inform me that my photographs were ‘incidental rubbish! Before the letter landed on my doormat, I was feeling so proud and admittedly ‘big headed’ wallowing in the success and achievement of having my first 4 page portfolio published across the glossy pages of a photography journal. The critic’s efforts to take a ‘swipe’ at me didn’t exactly knock me down or discourage me from picking up a camera again, on the contrary I considered the incident as a great honour. To think my pictures had stirred someone so much they had taken the trouble to put pen to paper and purchased a first class stamp too! If anything the criticism had done the trick of fuelling my enthusiasm to do more photography in future and indeed succeed in getting more of my work in print. Anyway, I hadn’t a clue what ‘incidental rubbish’ meant?

My wife Jean presented me with my first ‘proper’ camera in 1977; a Pentax K1000. I made the decision that this photography ‘lark’ will never be treated as a hobby! The very thought of snapping pictures and sticking my efforts into a photo album or showing my work at local camera club meetings didn’t really appeal. To be frank! Jean and I needed a little spare income at the time and considered that part time photographic assignments such as weddings or children’s portraits would help subsidize my inadequate full time income.  I also yearned to see my pictures published, the notion was my motivation to always produce top class images.  I read photography books and magazines by the dozen to pick up useful tips and ideas. A wise old photographer advised me to ‘look at everything both old and new’ develop a really broad mind by studying pictures and artwork of every kind even the stuff that didn’t appeal.

Without a qualification of any kind in my head, I daringly began submitting my pictures to a wide range of magazines. However, many of my early efforts were failures and subsequently returned with a rejection slip from the editor. Yes! ‘Rejection slip shock’ was difficult to swallow, but on the bright side surprisingly some editorials hung onto my work, thus leading to eventual publication followed by a rather nice reproduction fee through the post.

I wrote  about and took pictures of interesting people I knew and eventually  found myself on the books of ‘Yorkshire Life’, ‘Yorkshire Ridings’, ‘Down Your way’, ‘This England’ and Salmon Publishing company.  Now I was succeeding in getting regular work published. Even two photo-features all about the activities of Encore! ‘The Spend, Spend, Spend’, story also Mr Panto himself Paul Barron.

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My own involvement with stage photography began in the early 1980’s, would you believe in Music City U.S.A? Yes! Nashville Tennessee. I have always preferred my choice of entertainment and music to have a rich American flavour, and managed two trips to the U.S.A in the early 80’s.

It was so easy to gain permission to photograph major concert events of County Music artists in those days. The scene is so big in America and endless performances provided me with so many opportunities to practice stage photography itself. I became totally ‘hooked’ on being caught up in a glitz and glamour show business  dreamlike world. A walk down ‘Music Row’ where all the major recording studios are based left me with a crazy notion of one day to photographing album sleeves and conducting other publicity photo-shoots. Yes! Living and working in the U.S.A was the dream!

Sadly, the dreams and desires soon faded on returning to England. I applied for press passes to photograph visiting performers from the U.S.A ending in failure, so it was back to the wedding assignments, and the hum drum life in Yorkshire, so the notion to practice stage photography had to be shelved for a while.

One Sunday morning during 2007 I found myself amongst a bunch of Victorian rogues and street urchins, outside of Pontefract’s historic Counting House. I’d been asked to do a photo publicity shoot for Encore’s forthcoming show, ‘Oliver’.

Since then I have covered 19 dress rehearsals including the Christmas panto productions adding to this 19 publicity shoots too.
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Thanks to the demands of Encore I have gained many new photographic skills, as stage photography itself can be quite challenging. I find that knowing every single mode on my camera backwards comes in handy. For instance, stage lighting can throw out the auto-focus and exposure, so at rapid speed, I have to change the camera to manual settings. Re-occurring problems such as these have to be dealt with immediately or else great action may be missed on stage.

12186592_1192734334076649_6052345510708503771_oI love capturing facial expressions along with my telephoto lens and I like to include everyone on stage in my ‘shoots’. It’s not always possible, but those standing near the wings or in the background are also playing important roles in the whole production. I manage to capture a few pictures that look like ‘stills’ from a classic Hollywood movies that are now proudly on display in my own portfolio.

My best photo accessory is Jean, she’s always there to carry out a quick lens change if needed! Make sure I don’t lose anything!11878949_1160497783966971_6704373463445648712_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you again Roy and Jean for all your hard work and for contributing your story to this weeks blog.
See you ahead of our next production ‘Bad Girls’

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Meet The Committee

Welcome back everyone!
We hope you all had a super Christmas and Happy New Year.

Ever wondered what it takes to keep Encore Theatre Company going for 72 years? Well over the next few months between regular blog posts we will be introducing you to our standing Committee members who work extremely hard to keep our theatre company running, by planning what shows to perform, appointing a production team, managing finances, planning fundraising activities, organising publicity and so much more.

First on the list is our Publicity Officer Mrs Vikki Vaughan
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How long have you been a member of Encore Theatre Company?
12 years

When and why did you join ETC?

I joined in February 2003 for the production of Anything Goes.  I was looking for a new theatre company as the one I was in (Pontefract Amateur Operatic Society) folded.

Do you have any favourite show/s you have performed in? 

Enjoyed every show over the last 12 years, however
, favourites have to be Spend, Spend, Spend and Calendar Girls.

Tell us your favourite role/s? (past roles and dream ones)
Top 3 favourite roles have to be Young Viv in Spend, Nancy in Oliver and Julie in Carousel (playing opposite my real-life husband!)

Dream role- Fantine in Les Miserables

How long have you served on the committee?

4 years

What was your reason for joining the committee?

Initially, I wanted to be a member’s rep to provide a voice for the younger cast members and to understand more about what happens outside of the rehearsal room!

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Vikki as Julie in Carousel

Your role and responsibilities?

Originally, I was a Member’s Representative then was elected to the post of Publicity Officer.  As Publicity Officer, I co-ordinate all publicity and promotional material for shows, however, my role is made much easier by a team of very talented people!! (Sarah Clarkson- Social Media, Phil Clarkson- Website, Paul Barron- Leaflet and Programme design, Andy Sheppard- Newspaper articles, Roy Hampson- photography, Nicole Walton- photography) I am also very lucky to have the support of committee with booking publicity displays/days and generating some very inventive ideas to sell tickets!

Describe a task you have completed for this year’s committee?

The most challenging task for me was definitely coordinating the photography shoot for Annie.  We had a very limited amount of time, in a beautiful venue (Rogerthorpe Manor) with 1 photographer, a few adults and 35 children to organise with costumes and props!  It was hectic and had to be run like a military operation to ensure we got all of the photos we needed in the correct locations, without disturbing the hotel guests!  Needless to say, it was worth it in the end; the photos looked amazing and we had a sell-out show!

What are the main challenges facing the committee?

Every committee member loves Encore Theatre Company and we work incredibly hard to make sure the Company remains afloat whilst putting on professional-standard shows.

Like all companies, our main challenge is keeping costs low, whilst not compromising on quality.  As an amateur company, there is a ceiling price on seats and it is important that our shows are high-quality and tickets are affordable.

One of our main challenges is choices of show to produce.  There are so many things to consider when selecting shows and, unfortunately, many of the shows which are popular and would be sell-outs aren’t available for amateur performers.

The final challenge we have is quite a good one!!  Because we are a welcoming, friendly society who are recognised as putting on high-quality shows, we have an ever-increasing membership (with over 60 people on stage during our most recent pantomime!)  This means that we now have to think more carefully about logistics on stage, dressing rooms, rehearsal groups etc. to make sure everyone is included, well-rehearsed and that we aren’t breaking any laws!

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Vikki as Young Viv in Spend Spend Spend

On a final note, although a voluntary, time-consuming role, it is a thoroughly enjoyable one!  The committee are happy to face these challenges and do our absolute best for ETC because of the support we have from all members.  In addition to the committee, many members take on extra responsibilities such as costumes, props, publicity, refreshments, fundraising, backstage and ushers, to name a few.  We know that we always have company members who are willing to take on extra responsibilities so thank you all.

 

Thank you Vikki for taking the time to answer our questions and giving us an insiders view of the Publicity Officer’s role.

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Thanks again for reading, see you next week.