We welcomed Emma Hunt to Committee at the AGM. Renowned for her fabulous shoes, Emma is an awesome Stage Manager, most recently stage managing If I Should Die Before I Wake, 2016's play 3 directed by Ellis Ebell. She has also stage managed Talking Heads, God of Carnage, History Boys and others. She splits her stage management time between WLT and Heidelberg, choosing one play at each theatre each year. Emma has been a WLT member for a number of years. Her calmness, reasonableness and common sense make her great committee member material!
Here's the 'If I Should Die Before I Wake' team: Emma's second from left.
There were three other 'new faces' at the AGM: Alex Begg, Neil Williamson and Robert Harsley. Wait, you cry, they're not new faces!!
Well yes and no... in a surprise presentation at the AGM they became the newest faces in our line up of Life Members.
Barbara Hughes introduced Alex Begg:
It is my absolute pleasure to introduce our latest Life Member to you.
This person has been around the theatre longer than I have (which is saying something because I feel like I’ve been here forever!) In fact, he Stage Managed my very first show here in 1979 – The Anniversary.
Forgive me if I’ve got this wrong but I believe he first arrived at the theatre in 1978 appearing in Simon & Laura. Throughout the late 70s and early 80s he appeared in or worked backstage on several shows including The Wind in the Branches of the Sassafras, The Ballad of Angel’s Alley and Travelling North.
Family commitments meant that he disappeared for a few years but when he did return he soon became invaluable in many areas but particularly in Stage Management. He has proved himself to be totally reliable and committed and is the go-to person to manage really difficult productions. I’m thinking of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Nance in the recent past among many others. He has taken on the task of sourcing backstage crews for all shows with great success and is also a mentor for prospective backstage personnel, running workshops and working with others to ensure that WLT’s high standards are always maintained.
He’s a quiet achiever, never making a fuss, endlessly cheerful and accommodating. He is always willing to lend a hand at working bees and set building. And he cooks the best BBQ snags in the world.
Please join me in congratulating our newest Life Member, Alex Begg.
Peter Newling (President), Barbara Hughes (Vice President) with Alex Begg at the presentation
Bernadette Wheatley introduced Neil Williamson:
The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of commitment to make a difference in the lives of others, or in this case WLT.
This person has been part of the WLT family for nearly 20 years and their spirit of generosity and camaraderie has always been evident and appreciated throughout that time.
His ability to welcome people to WLT with a smile and friendly banter puts newcomers at ease and he has contributed to our reputation of being a company who welcomes and appreciates those who join us in our theatrical endeavours.
He has not served on the WLT committee, but he is always willing and able to help with anything, and does so. Production co-ordinators, directors, Stage managers sound and lighting people regularly call for his assistance and he gives it willingly. He’s often the person people call when things go awry and he can usually solve the problem and if he can’t personally do it, he organises someone who can. As a production co-ordinator and director, I have called for his assistance and advice, and it has been forthcoming in a supportive manner. Very reassuring and calming when stress levels may be high!
He does many things around the theatre that people aren’t aware of, but just does them because he sees the need and because he can. He is a very resourceful person to have around.
He has been involved in the areas of stage managing, sound design, FOH and regularly helps with set building. His presence at the January Working Bees adds a sense of fun and humour.
He always goes ‘above and beyond’ because he loves the camaraderie, and always wants to give the best effort for WLT. I know that coming to WLT changed his life in many wonderful ways.
I would like to finish with this thought. The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy. Neil Williamson, your legacy to WLT will remembered for many years to come.
Neil the WLT committee is very pleased to offer you life membership for your contributions, work, support and dedication over many years. Congratulations Neil.
Bernadette Wheatley, Neil Williamson, Peter Newling at the presentation
Ellis Ebell introduced Robert Harsley:
This person joined WLT in 1964. His first show with us was as part of the ‘ensemble’ in The Boy Friend at the Mechanic’s Institute Hall, our original home. He went on to be ASM for our next show, A Dead Secret, also at the Mechanic’s. In 1965 he played the role of Dupont-Dufort Senior in Thieves Carnival, which was a last show before being evicted from the Mechanic’s!
We then started our nomadic era….. In 1966 we staged The Glass Menagerie in the Willie Town Hall supper room, in the round and this same person took on the difficult role of SM. The person to whom I’m referring is Robert or Bob, or as Vin Foster nicknamed him ‘Hetty’, Harsley!
Also in 1966 we put on a production of a play called Collect Your Hand Baggage and Bob was in that cast which from memory we toured around to various halls in the district.
Later in 1966 we found what was to be our temporary home, the disused Seamen's Mission in Nelson Place, and we opened with Sailor Beware. Now it’s worth pointing out that Bob was still a teenager and he was cast as my future father-in-law!!! Sailor Beware was followed by a very lavish production of The Sleeping Prince with young Bob stage managing. This was an extremely difficult show to mount as it was full dress uniform for the guys and very elaborate evening gowns for the ladies, we had absolutely no wing space and any actor making an entrance from the OP side had to climb through window to get into position.
In 1968 we got our very own theatre and Bob stage managed Barefoot In The Park, even standing in for a couple of performances as the telephone man!!
Of course since then Bob has performed, directed, SM’d and ASM’d for numerous shows but I have to say one of the most memorable performances, involved a scene in a Pinter play called A Night Out. It was WLT’s entrant for the VDL One Act Play Festival. We made it to the finals which were held at the old Russell Street Theatre. A young Bob and a young Ellis played a scene in which two young English footy fans were discussing the game whilst waiting for the bus! It involved slick delivery and wicked timing. There was obviously no ‘award’ for this type of thing but the adjudicators stated that it was one of the best scenes of the festival! Bob and I were both quite chuffed!
When Sarah Berry and Mark Riley called it quits running our Front of House Bob stepped into that role and has been running it ever since.
So Bob, for service to the group for over 50 years, Welcome to the club!
Robert Harsley, Ellis Ebell, Peter Newling at the presentation