The Artful Dodger — August 2022

From the Chair

It’s been such a busy time here in Warrandyte recently. I feel the need to dash back to Europe for a holiday and affordable coffee. I promise to bring some back with me next time.

Thanks everyone for your condolences on my mum’s passing. Alastair and I will be holding a second celebration of her life back in Leicestershire where she was the founder member in 1953 of the “QT Drama Group” – which is still staging plays and where she is still known by many in the current company. Community theatre clearly entered my blood stream in the 60’s and though all I managed was some back stage work – notably SFX, playing vinyl recordings in the attic above the stage with a trapdoor window to view the action below – I obviously absorbed sufficient theatrical vapours to do more.

Thanks to all those of who did so much to produce the last Theatre shows – Blackbird and A View from the Bridge. If we look at these shows objectively then staging a play from a well-known author with a cast of umpteen is clearly a financially wise move. On the other hand, staging an edgy new play on a challenging contemporary topic is also important. We cannot determine what our community should watch, and choice of plays must also meet the needs of those directing and performing too. Subjectively, the selection of plays we stage comes down to directors and their choice of material. I think we can be pleased with what we have achieved so far in 2022 – (the number of new performers is/has been wonderful to see) and with Calendar Girls in rehearsal and The Follies being written, there is plenty more to come.

Thanks to Marion and Brenda, forging ahead with Life Drawing and Pottery. Pottery is open two days a week now and Life Drawing presses on with strong consistent membership.

Big special thanks to Marion for picking up caretaking duties this year and for managing our cleaner, Esther. Marion also keeps the garden under control with the help of June and others. Their contribution is invaluable.

Also invaluable is the administrative work of Grant. While I was away, Grant secured several donations and has made several applications for more (lower case) grants. With the donations and takings from the plays this year – tickets mainly, and with some quite healthy bar takings from “View, we are now in a position to meet the Bendigo Bank Community Grant conditions, meaning we will be able to commence restorative work on the roof, lighting bar and bio-box in 2023.

But more is needed… The eagle eyed among you will have noticed the damaged floorboards which have been repaired by Ben (Zen Do Kai.). Unfortunately, Ben is sure the damage – clearly caused by termites, extends further and more inspection and work is needed.

There is rarely a quiet moment down at the hall these days, but if you’re there alone and you hear scratching from below … do let us know.

All the best,

Theatre News

Calendar Girls is on, you must have heard by now.

Susan has the team - mostly the same that was ready in 2020 - back in rehearsal and they open September 23.

Tickets –

And then there’s The Follies opening in November.

There will be Follies “onboarding” - to coin a phrase - sure to get under everyone’s skin, on the following dates in September:

Saturday, October 1 at 3PM

Wednesday, October 5 at 8PM

You know the drill. If you’re interested, you’re in. There will be multiple roles for all.

After a hiatus in 2019 due to lack of directors and a hiatus in ’20 and ’21 due to you know what, it is really very important we make this a Follies to remember. Think “Neighbours” final episode where all the stars returned!

The Follies

Matt Wallace and Lawrence are working hard gathering scripts, creating music and planning the show. A second writers’ meeting threw up a host of new ideas. The theme – The Follies Goes Off the Rails is not really a theme at all and anything goes.

The text below is from the directors. It is a collection of all the ideas thrown up at our recent meeting.

Now we need scripts …

The rumours are true – Follies has returned. And this time with a vengeance on the year that was! Life turned upside down for most of us. Let’s be honest, it was ridiculous. So, how fitting is it that this year’s theme is “Follies Goes Off The Rails” (title open to change, by the way). What does that mean? Well, kinda anything. Anything can happen. It’s a mutiny, a collapse, an explosion, a twist. It’s all things absurd and all things wrong. It’s utter chaos! To hell with order! To hell with logic! Cast caution to the wind because baby, we’re all going overboard. It’s madness! (Surely at this point we’re just describing the Follies in general?) 

We’re looking for sketches, songs and scenes – bring whatever to the table. Maybe we find a narrative amongst the chaos, or maybe we let the crazy wave take us. Let’s work it out! But here’s the catch, the challenge, the fine print: there will be no use of the ‘C word’. This is a COVID-free production, after all. The idea is that if you presented this show in an alternate universe where COVID didn’t happen, it would still fly. So not even the slightest allusion to lockdown or masks, or sanitizers, or toilet paper.

Been there, done that. Let’s transcend the pandemic.

Can it be done? We reckon!

Repair Café News

We had a few fixers absent at the August session, but lots of demand and plenty of love for the awesome work of our fixers. We even had a fixer present from Heathcote (Rudi, Simone’s bonus dad) pitching in to help. The garment fixers were kept pretty busy with a high demand for their help.

Pottery News

Winter in the Marjorie Beecham Pottery Studio

The Pottery studio has been a haven for our potters over winter. There has been a continual flow of gorgeous creativity. E.g. owls, totem poles, pots, bird baths, plates, mushrooms , flowers and fairy houses .

The main project of the season is replacing the broken upper limbs of our female statue who stands outside the WMIAA Hall. Interestingly, the two statues that greet you as you enter the WMIAA Hall were originally made by our Potters Group. Designed and led by our guru Potters Noelle and Marjorie, approximately twenty years ago. They were created to commemorate the 50th Birthday of WMIAA. Marjorie called the two statues ‘The Folly‘ after The Follies .

The process of making the arms and its ornate clothing will take time but we hope to have her ‘together’ sometime in spring.

Talking of Spring, our lovely wattle tree outside the studio has bloomed into a beautiful display of yellow.

Remembering some events from the past

Part I

Can you handle Handel?

A few weeks ago, I came across a ticket for a musical event held in Warrandyte some 40+ years ago, which made me realise how things have changed since then.

The event was a sing-along of Handel’s ‘Messiah’, something John and I had been keen to try locally since reading about the annual event held at the Royal Albert Hall, London. We had taken over running the music group for WAA from Ann Arnold, who was then overseas, so in addition to the musical evenings held in private homes, we planned to do some more major things at the hall, and this was our first.

I don’t think we could possibly run such a successful event nowadays, but back then things were different. We knew enough people who played instruments to the required standard to cope with the orchestral music for such an occasion, and so we were able to get an orchestra together. Likewise, I sang in the Astra Choir in Melbourne from which I was able to recruit a couple of people to sing solos to join other local singers for this purpose. More particularly, other choir members came along to swell the ranks in the various singing parts of the choruses. And, we managed to fill the hall with local people who came along to join in, for which we organised just one rehearsal for those who were interested. Evidently enough people back then had sung part, if not all, of this oratorio before – maybe at school. The orchestra and soloists also had just one rehearsal.

We were blessed with the talent of Barry McKimm to play the wonderful solos and parts of “The trumpet shall sound”, the “Hallelujah Chorus” and the “Amen” on his trumpet in C. Our conductor had never conducted before, but was a very capable musician (an ex member of the Bushwackers) and managed perfectly. We borrowed vocal scores from Melbourne Grammar School which we could hire out for the night, and the orchestral parts came from Camberwell Grammar School.

So we were all set. The tickets we made ourselves using a pack of blank business cards and a kids’ stamp-printing set with a purple inky pad. Crude, but adequate, and we sold them by phone enquiries, with people collecting and paying for them (the princely sum of $2.00 each I think) at Sue Jones’ Chemist shop (where the lawyers’ office now is):

John & I had grown a few pine trees on our property for using as Christmas trees. So, on the day of the event, we cut one down to take to the hall and a fellow member of the music group and I collected ivy from Marjorie Beecham’s (at her invitation) and set about decorating the hall with this and a bit of tinsel. But with no artistic instincts, the hall looked no better. However, a quick call to Marjorie herself (there used to be a landline in the hall!), resulted in Marjorie coming down, sizing up the situation and remedying it straight away. She moved the tree to where it would stand behind the conductor, orchestra and soloists, the focus of the evening, and scooped up the litter of ivy to concentrate it in the vicinity of the tree. What a transformation!

The evening arrived and the participants poured into the hall and found their places in the areas designated for basses, tenors, altos and sopranos. The husband of one of the soloists from the Astra choir had prepared a program to indicate all the cuts we made, using some sort of word processor. And, just a handful of people who came to watch/hear were seated on the stage. I think we must have been lucky with the weather for the hall had no air conditioning back then

The evening exceeded our wildest dreams. The music sounded good and everyone was uplifted – even when the conductor wiped his brow, thinking he had finished, when there was still one more page to go!

Then Noelle Burgess and Marjorie Beecham (and probably other potters) again excelled themselves, pulling out tables, table cloths, pottery angels for table decorations and plates of Christmas cake and mince pies – and I’m sure we must have had something to drink, but I can’t remember. We probably arranged that ourselves, but we were overwhelmed by the unexpected support of the potters and fellow committee members.

Happy days.

Pat Anderson

The Taroona Incident

Past resident of Warrandyte and long time member and participant in the WTC, Elizabeth Long has taken her creative abilities to another level, joining a number of Warrandytians by writing a novel, The Taroona Incident.

The book was recently launched at Busybird Publishing in Para Road, Montmorency. Her story is about four-year-old, Rebecca, who finds the body of her aunt in the Derwent River in 1952. The course of Rebecca’s life changes forever, plunging her into loss, despair and grief as she navigates the years that pass like a boat searching for a shore. This is a wonderful thriller from first time author Elizabeth Long. A great weekend read.

If you wish to purchase The Taroona Incident, you can contact the author via email or on 0438 526 770. The book is also available through Amazon.

Left to right: Tony Clayton, Denise Farran, Liz Long, Raine Dinale, and Jenny Harkin.

All have been members of the Warrandyte Theatre Company at some time.

Calendar Girls

Call out for Front of House

This is a call out to members and friends to help with Front of House for Calendar Girls.

We have eight evening performances and two matinees of the play to staff and we are looking for you to help.

For each show we need a minimum of four people, at least one with a current RSA certificate. If you are interested in obtaining your RSA, the WMIAA will refund your costs - this is an excellent opportunity to upskill.

Please contact Hazel:

Vale Anthony Burgess

In 1968, Anthony Burgess with his wife, Noelle and their four children, came to Warrandyte from their hometown of Horsham. They initially took up residence in Banning Road, where they met Irving and Yvonne Reid, through whom they joined the Warrandyte Arts Association (WAA). It wasn’t long before Anthony was not only a member of the central committee of WAA, but became treasurer. In fact he held this position from 1975 until 1991, with the exception of a few years when he swapped roles with Pi Beecham, serving as president while Pi was treasurer.

During these years, some members of the WAA committee had similar roles on the committee of WMI, as by the seventies, the Arts Association was the only regular user of the hall. It was through the efforts of the WAA that the hall, having become in a sad state of repair, was saved from being sold off and the land turned into more shops.

These would have been difficult years for the committee and especially for the role of treasurer. All manner of fund-raising efforts were undertaken, including wine bottling, Marjorie’s famous ‘Landfall’, lunches and even a car raffle (organised by Anthony). The committee had grandiose plans for a major development of the hall, with plans before council (City of Doncaster and Templestowe at that time) but with insufficient money to carry these out. It was a tedious process of trying to keep the approval of these plans current, until the whole thing fell through when the Council purchased the old Getson Motors site for subsequent development into the current Community Centre complex.

Anthony and Pi were heavily involved throughout this time and when it became obvious that no help would be forthcoming from Council to support the plans for the hall, the committee explored the possibility of WAA and WMI becoming amalgamated, giving more impetus to WAA to raise the necessary funds for ongoing maintenance and improvement of the hall. Anthony found a solicitor who helped with this process on a pro bono basis, but the whole thing became very drawn out as a result. Nevertheless, a structure was established whereby WAA would be subsumed into WMI, the latter being the owner of the title and a public meeting was called in 1986 to ask the community to ratify the plan – which it did. And so WMI&AA was born and soon became incorporated as WMI&AA Inc. This was an enormous amount of work as well as being legally complicated, for which we are indebted to the efforts of Anthony, as well as others that followed, because the hall then underwent a huge phase of improvement under the leadership of Doug Macrae. Anthony’s contribution was recognised sometime in the late 80s/early 90s by being awarded Life Membership of WMIAA.

Anthony’s interest in joining WAA in the first place was his love of music. He was a regular attendee and contributor at music nights, particularly enjoying singing Gilbert and Sullivan songs. He sang in the popular Barbers’ Shop Quartet that was a regular feature of the annual Follies in late 70s and early 80s and he was involved in other productions like the Christmas Pageant in 1982. He also appeared on stage in one theatrical production. He was an enthusiastic all-round member, he and Noelle regularly taking part in the Arts Balls, supporting the annual art shows and, of course, hosting many committee meetings at their home in Bradleys Lane having moved there around 1972/3.

For the Arts Balls, the Beechams, Burgesses, Goldings and others would all dress in the same theme, assemble at the Beechams’ and then proceed to the hall. Themes included Charlie Chaplin, space travel and Queen Victoria. In the accompanying photograph, the group members are all Queen Victorias.

Over and above his contribution to WMIAA, John & I remember Anthony being involved in the youth employment service run by Jean Chapman and Louise Joy from behind the Getson Motors site - in particular, organising fire wood for splitting and sale.

Anthony had struggled with health issues for some years and spent the last 10 months in care, where he died on August 4.

A heart-felt thank you Anthony for your devotion and contribution to our precious hall and association. And, on a personal note, for being a wonderful neighbour in Bradleys Lane all those years ago.

Pat Anderson August 16, 2022

Membership Renewal Reminder 

Have you paid yours?

Annual membership fees for WMIAA are well and truly due!

There has been no increase to fees for 2022 and they can be paid via Trybooking

The primary aim of membership is building and engaging an ongoing community of people interested in the arts and importantly it enables all those who enter the premises to be insured. 

If you are an actor or director planning to be involved this year – at any time, we would like to encourage you to join up now. It helps us enormously to have funds in advance. 

It has been challenging to maintain the hall during the past two years and we are aiming to raise funds this year to complete important renovation of the hall roof, the bio box and lighting rig. With funds in the bank early in the year we have greater chance of meeting our targets.

If anyone has queries or difficulty renewing their membership please don’t hesitate to contact Noelene on 0400 861 133 or email