FEATS NEWSLETTER

Spring 2002


Well, the count down is on and Diana and her cohorts have been beavering away from morning ’til evening to prepare everything for a splendid FEATS 2002 in Brussels from May 17th-20th. As ever, things have not always gone smoothly with teams at first accepting and then, through force majeur, being obliged to pull out. However, gaps are being filled and pieces rehearsed for our delectation by AATG The Hague, ACTS Stuttgart, ATC Brussels, Brussels Shakespeare Society, CATS Rheindahlen, FEST Frankfurt, Hamburg Players, In Players Amsterdam, Semi-Circle Basel and Tagora Strasbourg.

In this newsletter you will find the A-Z of the festival, an article on the Fringe, a booking form if you wish to take advantage of the FEATS hotel rate and a further booking form for tickets. I think both forms are self-explanatory, but be sure to follow the accompanying notes carefully. Also included are a letter from the former Newsletter editor, Tony Broscomb, regarding the role of the adjudicator and his report on the GODA conference.


The role of the Adjudicator

Many thanks to you and to Heather Gavin for the excellent review of FEATS 2001 that was published in the last FEATS newsletter. I always enjoy reading the reviews of FEATS and reliving some of the atmosphere and the excitement of the festival.

I would like to correct one apparent mis-understanding about the role of the adjudicator. In her review, Heather commented as an aside that "Jeannie (Russell) informed us every time before giving her comments of the notes that she had been provided with by the competing group - and sometimes it would have been useful for the audience to have been informed also so as not to misinterpret some of the situations revealed".

The adjudicator is never provided with any additional information or notes about the production by the competing group. All the adjudicator receives in advance is a copy of the script, in the version that will be presented. Any cuts or additions to the script must be clearly shown, but no other details are given. How the play is presented on stage is as much a surprise to the adjudicator as to the audience.

It is part of the adjudicator’s task to provide a brief introduction to the play, to put the play into context and to set out the challenges that the director and the team will have faced in putting on the production. This is a very important part of the preparation that every good adjudicator undertakes. Prior to coming to the festival, the adjudicator will have carried out some research about the playwright and the play and will have made background notes which will form the basis of these introductory remarks. In the case of an original script, the adjudicator may not be able to comment on the context of the play but he/she can still assess from reading the script what challenges the team will have had to face.

At FEATS 2001, I was particularly impressed by the extent to which Jeannie Russell had done her homework. She was very well prepared and she provided some interesting and useful background information about each play that we saw. But let me stress again, this information was the result of her own research into the plays that were presented and was not "notes provided by the competing group".

If anyone would like to know more about the role of an adjudicator, I can recommend the book "Who would be an adjudicator?" written by Doris Day who was a past chairman of GODA and published by J.Garnet Miller (price £4.50). This little book provides information about how adjudicators are selected and how they judge a performance or a production and includes many anecdotes from her own extensive experience as a GODA adjudicator. Tony Broscomb


FEATS 2002 Fringe

To all those who have shown interest in performing and have told me, Diana, or else have thought about performing and haven’t yet told me, Diana, but who might now tell Fringe 2002 Coordinators Sue and Carrie (contact suebotterell@hotmail.com or cortothecat@yahoo.com),or Fringe 2002 Technical Coordinator Alan Kenway on AKenway@placid.com.

From now on contact Sue or Carrie with your Fringe details, not me, Diana!

The Fringe will be very simply staged items this year in the red area by the bar of the foyer of the theatre. We personally would prefer for there NOT to be yet more plays during the day as well as the competition plays at night. However there is a small stage area which can have simple-set productions performed - but we are really looking less for plays, rather stand-up, song, monologues. We do, so far, have quite a few offers from the FEATS community to perform in the Fringe which will be on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival between 11.30 until 3 p.m., or thereabouts, depending on how many "acts" put themselves forward.

So, if you have do a play you want to perform that’s OK too and we would just say to you that it must be pared down to the bare essentials, minimal lighting and sound and set. A bit like the Edinburgh Fringe if you have any experience of that..... Now, there’s a challenge!

Depending upon the response, Sue and Carrie will draw up a programme on the Saturday and the Sunday (not Monday as this is Youth Fringe Day organised at the Warehouse Studio Theatre in Schaerbeek as a separate event) and if there is space and time, they will take last minute bookings when you get to Brussels on the FEATS weekend.

Just to give you an idea, we have so far from Brussels Robert Rowe with a 15 minute monologue taken from a short story about a man about to be hanged(!), *** some jazz piano, Diane Gray with a snippet from Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, Jo Perrin & Annika Norstrom with songs from shows, two short one-acts from the ECC called Blueheart, and FEST’s Le Tigre Rose which is musical fun plus possibly a two-hander from the group. These are the firm bookings so far but there is still space for Nigel from Stockholm (because you always come up with something, don’t you!) and whatever BATS have after all, plus anybody else who is interested in something short and sweet......! DIANA M-H D

*** Robert clarifies ’it is a perfectly serious short story by Ambrose Bierce, an intriguing American
writer who literally disappeared (in Mexico) in 1914 and is still well-known for his "Devil’s Dictionary". The story is called "An Occurrence at Owl Creek" and, unlike the DD, is in no way facetious or cynical’.


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GODA Conference


The 2001 Drama Festivals Conference organised by GODA (The Guild of Drama Adjudicators) was held on 15 September at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. The conference took the form of a production in three acts, complete with a prologue, cabaret and post-performance discussion.

The 70 delegates who attended the conference covered the full range of people involved in Drama Festivals - festival organisers, performing groups, adjudicators, umbrella organisations and even one or two individuals who just like to support drama festivals. The venue was the magnificent theatre complex created and run in Scarborough by Sir Alan Ayckboum.

The Prologue provided a brief introduction to the days events. Delegates were then divided into groups for the main performance. In Act One, each group was asked to consider the state of drama festivals today - which aspects of the festival are successful and what are the problem areas. Groups were given a list of 16 aspects and asked to rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 (poor to very good). Areas which were generally thought to be good included the expertise and helpfulness of the technical crew, the festival Organisation and the atmosphere of festivity. But the areas where we are less successful are publicity, audience involvement, encouragement of youth teams and financial viability.
In Act Two, the same groups were asked to consider how to improve festivals and again a list of topics was provided which each group had to rate on the basis of which would most effectively contribute to promoting change for the better.

Everybody came together again for Act Three when we were asked to report back on the results of our group discussions. At times it was reminiscent of the Eurovision Song contest, with representatives calling out the scores awarded by their group (providing "more awards" received Null Point for every group !). Innovative publicity, better communication, a varied programme of plays and more on stage technical time received the greatest support as means for promoting change for the better. Financial support (both for festivals and for teams), constructive adjudication and competitions for the audience all received moderate support. Few people thought that having more comedies or original scripts, providing entertainment during the interval or organising acting and/or technical workshops would have a significant impact and there was no support for giving more awards.

When considering the outcome of the conference, I think FEATS can give itself considerable credit we already provide more on stage technical time (2 hours) than any other One Act festival in the UK; over recent years, we have seen a very varied programme of plays; we have a good balance of types of play, including a reasonable number of original scripts; communications are good (newsletter, website) and, judging by the size of the audience, the publicity has been excellent....... and the Steering Committee has resisted all attempts to increase the number the number of awards !

After a short break for sandwiches and a glass of wine, we reassembled in the theatre for the after lunch speaker. Sir Alan Ayckboum, patron of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators and artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre company, talked very entertainingly about his early career in the theatre and the development of the theatre and the company that he now runs in Scarborough. The theatre is housed in a converted Odeon Cinema. There are two stages - a theatre in the round where all Ayckbourn’s plays are first presented and a small ’ conventional proscenium arch theatre (where the conference was held) for other productions. The company is one of the few remaining repertory companies in the UK - a group who are employed on contact for a full
season rather than on a play by play basis. Sir Alan also aims to encourage repertory theatre in his plays - this year, he has written three plays, Game PlanIFlat SpinlRole Play, each of which is performed on the same set by the same group of actors.

There was an opportunity afterwards for questions. One person asked Sir Alan if he gave any consideration to the problems faced by amateur theatre groups when writing his plays. Without hesitation, he said "No...... I don’t even give any thought to the problems faced by my own company!" He then went on to describe a meeting with his company at which he first explained the concept of his play, House & Garden. This is in fact two plays, which are performed at the same time in two adjacent theatres. When actors exit from one stage, they enter the other. The audience, of course, only see one play at a time, but the two plays together provide the two halves of the same event as seen from the house and from the garden. The cast have to dash back and forth between the two theatres, requiring precise timing of the two productions. At the Stephen Joseph theatre, the two plays were performed simultaneously on the main stage and in the McCarthy theatre. When he had finished describing this idea to his company, there was total silence - everyone looked at the company stage manager to see what her reaction would be. After a moment, she said, "Well, I suppose that’s why I enjoy working with this company".

After this, we were invited to tour the theatre. The McCarthy theatre, where we had been throughout the day, uses the upper circle of the original Odeon Theatre as the auditorium, still with the "Early Odeon" decor, carpets and seating.. The stage has been built above the old stalls. The main stage is right at the top of the building, above where the cinema screen used to be. The seating is fixed (on all four sides of the square stage) but the stage itself is on a hoist which can be raised and lowered the full height of the building. Half way down the building, there is a rehearsal room on one side and scenery workshops on the other. When the stage is lowered to this level, scenery can be moved between workshop and rehearsal room or loaded onto the stage to go up to the acting area. The stage can be lowered into the basement when necessary for get-in/get-out. The Green Room was the cleanest I have ever seen - every member of the company has their own decorative mug and is responsible for washing it up after use; a discipline that I am sure many other groups would envy

Overall, this was a useful and interesting day. It was an excellent opportunity to meet and discuss ideas with a wide range of people from different sides of the festival movement. And I would encourage anybody who is in the area to visit the Stephen Joseph theatre in Scarborough and, if possible, to have conducted tour of the backstage facilities. Tony Broscomb

 



A to Z of FEATS 2002


A Appetites

· You will surely have an appetite for one of Sybil’s Super Sandwiches. Chez Sybil will be open each day, beside the bar, during the lunch period (except for Friday) and from 18.30 each evening and during the intervals. Sybil Beaton and her team will prepare fresh sandwiches, hot dogs, pizzas, quiches etc. for hungry FEATSers at very reasonable prices.

B Bar

· Paul Davis and his team will be on bar duty from 18.30, during the intervals and for an hour after the adjudication each evening. The bar will also open before and after the Fringe. All drinks will be either 1 euro or 1 euro 50. No spirits on sale but wine, beer, water, colas, juice and - if ordered in advance we can make sure there’s that celebratory bottle of champers keeping cool for you after the prizegiving on Monday.

C Cash Points

· Cashpoints are found at most banks, stations and in shopping centres and accept most credit cards as well as the locally used MisterCash and Bancontact cards. There is one at the Fortis Bank in Avenue Livingstone just below the Europa Hotel and several around Rond Point Schuman.

· Chairman of the English Comedy Club is Philip Deeks
· Chairman of FEATS 2002 is Diana Morton-Hooper, Mrs. Philip Deeks. To get in touch with either of them over the weekend call
0475 49 14 46 or 0476 68 94 25.

D Dress Code

· All the FEATS 2002 ECC Home Team will be wearing their distinctive yellow polo shirts throughout the weekend so you can spot them easily.
· Dress code for the Saturday Night party is NOT long frocks and DJs (yes, FEST you can if you like, but you mustn’t mind if we don’t)

E Eating Out

· Brussels offers a vast range of different types of restaurants, bars, cafés from the very expensive to the very reasonable. Menus are usually clearly displayed on the outside of the restaurant and service and VAT/TVA are included in the prices. For those on a budget there are Pizza, hamburger outfits and the very Belgian "Frites" stalls where you can add yet more calories with a dollop of mayonnaise on your "cornet". Since we all have our personal favourites, enquire for more information at one of the Information Desks.

Emergencies

· Hopefully not needed by anybody over the weekend. But just in case: ambulance or fire service is 100 and police is 101. There is a first aid kit backstage with the Festival Stage Team. The Clinic Universitaire de St. Luc is close to the theatre, along the Boulevard de la Woluwé, and the Clinique du Parc Leopold at 38 rue Froissart is the closest to the Europa Hotel. The hotels also have English-speaking doctors on call.

F Fringe

· There will be a Fringe on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th May with a Youth Fringe on Monday 20th May. All performances will be in the red area beside the bar at the theatre, apart from the Youth Fringe which will be at the Warehouse Studio Theatre in Schaerbeek. Get in touch with dianadeeks@hotmail.com if you want to perform in the Fringe. Watch the Box Office Noticeboard each festival day for the programme. Although there are set performances booked, the programme is flexible for last minute entries! If it’s simple, we’re interested. Think Edinburgh Festival Fringe - standup, monologues, two handers, music - not another play if you can help it. For technical matters ask Alan Kenway. To book yourself in for an impromptu performance, see Sue Botterell or Carrie Ellwanger at least half an hour before the start of each day’s Fringe.


G Godiva chocolates

· A box of these delicious Belgian chocolates should be eaten at least once during the weekend! Leonidas and Neuhaus are good too.

H Hotel

· The FEATS 2002 Hotel is the Europa Inter-Continental in the rue de la Loi. Rooms are 74 euros a night with breakfast extra. See "Hotel" button for booking form - deadline for booking a room is 17th April and if you cancel you MUST do it at least two weeks before arrival date.

I Information Desks

· At the hotel between 10 and 11 a.m. each day[tbc].
· At the theatre from 18.30 until curtain up and during the intervals each evening where any "up to the minute" information will be posted.

J ’judicator

· This year’s adjudicator is Mike Tilbury whom some FEATSers will remember from Luxembourg a couple of years ago.

K Kissing

· What luvvies do in the air as they mouth "dahlink you were wonderful", even if you weren’t

L Lunch

· If you want to pre-order food after or before rehearsing, an order form can be obtained from Chez Sybil and her team will prepare the order in advance

M Minders

· The adjudicator, Mike Tilbury, and his wife will be staying at the Europa and looked after by Alma Forsyth for the duration of the festival. Remember the FEATS Rule " Under no circumstances shall any Participant be permitted to attempt to influence in any way or to communicate with the Adjudicator in any dispute".
· Each participating group will be assigned a minder at the theatre on the day of their rehearsal period and performance.

Markets
· Flea Market in the Place du Jeu de Balle on Saturday morning until about 13h.
· Antique Market in the Place du Sablon on Sunday morning until about 13h.
· Midi Market near the Gare du Midi on Sunday morning until about 13h (this is a market selling food, clothing, household goods, fabric, plants, spices, etc. - good hunting ground for props people.

Marking system
· The standard NDFA marking system is Acting (40 points), Production (35 points), Stage Presentation (15 points), Originality, Endeavour & Achievement (10 points) and Innovation (10 points) which makes 110 points to win in all

N Nightlife

· Liz Newmark has done some homework on good nightspots for those who aren’t planning on sleeping much over the weekend. See the "Nightlife" button on the website

O Old Friends

· We hope you will renew acquaintance with old friends and make some new ones - to get in touch with someone or find out if they have come to FEATS 2002, check out the Box Office Noticeboard for messages.

P Party

· The party will cost you 12 euros for a ticket (available from Box Office - booking closes Friday evening) and will be at the theatre immediately following the Saturday night adjudication. There will be a light, simple supper and you can buy your drinks from the bar. Live jazz piano to begin with, discreet disco for the discerning dancer to follow. Coach to hotel for heavy drinkers, last orders at 2 a.m. Info. for night owls who want to continue elsewhere after we close up at 2.30 a.m. (clubbing, drinking, etc.) on Box Office Noticeboard.

Parking
· Plenty at the theatre and plenty at the hotel. Although absolutely no parking allowed in the Warehouse Studio Theatre courtyard

Q Question & Answer Session

· Otherwise known as the FEATS FORUM, which will take place at 11 a.m. in the red Fringe area by the bar at the theatre on Monday 20th May.

R Runners

· The Brussels Hash House Harriers run most Saturday afternoons so if you are interested, ask for time and venue of the start at the bar on Friday night

S Shopping

· The Woluwé Shopping Centre (with free parking) is close to the theatre, on Boulevard de la Woluwé and has a wide variety of stores - Habitat, Mothercare, sports shops, chocolate shops, a supermarket, clothes boutiques, shoe shops, a Tie Rack, jewellery, dry cleaning and delicatessen stores to name but a few. The main shopping area is around rue Neuve, De Brouckere and the Centre Monnaie. More up-market is the Avenue de la Toison d’Or or the Avenue Louise. Shops close on Sundays and public holidays but are usually open until 6 p.m. each day. Brussels is famous for chocolate, mussels and lace……

T Transport

· See the button marked "transport" for details!! There is plenty of car parking space at the theatre. For those who want to drink and not drive, there are frequent metros from Schumann (closest station to the Europa Hotel) and a special bus will be available to take people back to the Europa Hotel (price 1 euro) after the party on Saturday night (booking and paying for a seat in advance is advised to ensure a place) when public transport will no long be available.

Tickets

· Tickets for performances are 12 euros for a single night, 33 euros for a cast/crew ticket for performers/stage crew, 45 euros for a season ticket - bookable in advance as of 1st April when the FEATS 2002 Box Office opens, or on the night, at the Theatre Box Office presided over by Win Burton and her team - see the "bookings" button on the website.
· Tickets for the Saturday Night Party are 12 euros each and can be booked in advance by e mailing dianadeeks@hotmail.com and paid for when you arrive in Brussels at the start of the Festival.

U/V Verulam Award

· An award for best original script - at least four contenders at FEATS 2002. Made from wood which comes from Stratford upon Avon.

W Warehouse Studio Theatre

· The home of the English Comedy Club, American Theater Company and Irish Theatre Group in the rue Waelhem, Schaerbeek . The Youth Fringe will take place here.

X Extraordinary Time

· This is what FEATS 2002 should be for you: an extraordinary, brilliant and wonderful four day weekend hosted by the English Comedy Club of Brussels.

Y Youth Fringe

· On Monday there will be a Youth Fringe at the Warehouse Studio Theatre, our home in Schaerbeek, run by Mike Cockburn. For more details see the Box Office Noticeboard.

Z Zizz

· What you will probably want to do after exhausting yourself at FEATS 2002



You know you work in non-profit theatre if you’ve ever said, "Don’t worry - use duct tape and if that doesn’t work, we’ll just hot glue it".

Request from the hospitality team regarding HOTEL RESERVATIONS:

"When you make a reservation, do indicate if the room is for single or double occupancy. Most rooms (74 euros a room) are with double beds so do indicate if you want two single beds which apparently cannot be guaranteed in advance and are subject to availability when checking in. We shall be running a catering service (pizzas, hot dogs, sandwiches, etc.) at the theatre during the day and evening so if you want to skip breakfast and get it at the theatre you can!

So that we can have an idea of who has booked and who hasn’t - we would be really grateful if, when you fill in the form and fax it to the hotel, that you could e mail a copy to David.Buckley@cec.eu.int."


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TICKETS


PLEASE NOTE THE IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRANSACTIONS


Group bookings must be paid for in advance

1. TICKETS BY POST

Please send this booking form (last date for posting 1st May 2002) with a stamped self-addressed envelope to:
FEATS 2002 Box Office,
Win Burton, 282 avenue de la Chapelle, 1950 Kraainem, BELGIUM
(tel 00 32 2 725 81 82)
with proof of bank transfer made out to "The English Comedy Club asbl",
BBL account no. 310-1477997-94.

Postal reservations received after 1st May 2002 will be held at the Box Office for collection.

2. TICKETS BY E MAIL

Mail to ecctickets@hotmail.com - Please state the day, the number of tickets required, the price, the name of the person collecting the tickets and a contact phone number. Payment for phone or E-mail bookings for collection at the door should also be made by bank transfer. It is important that the name of the person collecting the tickets should be given on the transfer slip.


ADDENDUM TO THE TICKET BOOKING FORM FOR INTERNATIONAL TRANSACTIONS:

When paying for tickets to Belgium from abroad you will need to use the following address:
Bank Account No. 310 1477997-94, Banque Bruxelles Lambert, Chaussée de Waterloo 1313, 1180 Bruxelles, Belgique.
(the bank’s SWIFT address is BBRUBEBB100 and the account number 310 1477997-94) in the name of "FEATS 2002",
Please note that all bank charges should be paid by the principal

The ECC reserves the right to sell unpaid tickets at the Box Office 15 minutes before curtain up.
Latecomers will not be admitted until the interval once the performance has begun.


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You know you work in a non-profit theatre if ... you have taken time off your job to work on the show…



HOTEL RESERVATIONS at the EUROPA Inter-Continental Hotel, Brussels:
please go to appropriate website page and download the form from there:

http://www.feats.org/f2k2/Webpages/Index.htm

THE FEATS 2002 THEATRE TICKET BOOKING FORM is also available to download from the website:

http://www.feats.org/f2k2/Webpages/Index.htm


 

If you now have an e-mail address, please let me know so that I can send future newsletters electronically. It is cheaper that way and less time-consuming.

As ever, I cannot advertise your forthcoming productions if I do not receive information regarding them! The easy way is to put me on your e-mail list.
Thank you, Sue (editor {at} feats.org)

For further updates on FEATS, look at the website http://www.feats.org and should you wish to have something for inclusion on our homepage, please contact .