The Artful Dodger — April 2023

Warrandyte Arts AGM 2022

There was a pleasingly large turnout of members for the AGM held on Tuesday, April 18. The meeting heard from our ‘Roving Chair’, Adrian Rice, currently in Thailand, that 2022 was a very successful year as the Association recovered from the disruption of the COVID pandemic. Adrian expressed his thanks to all who had contributed to this success and highlighted the evening celebration, held in November last year, which many local supporters, councillors and representatives attended.

Warrandyte Arts also had a very successful year from a financial perspective, and Treasurer Andrea McMahon drew attention to the turnaround in overall profit, from a loss of over $3,000 in 2021 to a profit of over $63,000 in 2022. Notable were substantial increases in revenue for the Theatre Group and from donations and grants.

All those nominated for positions on the Committee were duly elected. Your association officials and representatives for the next year will be:

Post Duly Elected
Chair Bruce Turner
Secretary Grant Purdy
Treasurer Andrea McMahon
Vice Chair (Hall) Marion Cooper
Ordinary member and MembershipCoordinator Noelene Cooper
Ordinary member and Technical Director Adam Goudge
Ordinary member and Theatre Representative Lisa MacGibbon
Ordinary member and Pottery Representative Alison Beanland
Ordinary member and Pottery Representative Annie Kennedy
Ordinary member and Repair Café Representative David Tynan
Ordinary member and Minutes Secretary Pat Anderson
Ordinary member and Webmaster Robert Black
Ordinary member Simone Kiefer
Ordinary member Denise Farren
Ordinary member Michelle Reeves

Bruce Turner, our new Chair, thanked Adrian Rice for his support and advice.

In recognition of their long and dedicated service to the Association, David Tynan and Adrian Rice were elected as Life Members.

The AGM agreed to keep membership fees at the same level for 2024, and to make a small increase in hall hire fees. The meeting also voted unanimously in favour for a resolution to adopt an amended and updated set of the rules for the association.

After some very constructive discussion on a range of matters under Any Other Business, the meeting closed at 9.30pm.

Tennessee Williams

The Glass Menagerie

Directed by Grant Purdy

June 16 to July 1 at 8pm
June 25 at 2.30pm

The theatre company’s June production is this exquisite show that catapulted Tennessee Williams from obscurity to fame, winning the coveted New York Drama Critics' Circle Award in 1945.

While this play is rarely seen in community theatre, many will have enjoyed the Malthouse production in 2016. It has also been adapted for the cinema, with probably the most compelling production being directed by Paul Newman and starring Joanne Woodward and John Malkovich.

The Wingfields are one of theatre’s most iconic and heartbreakingly real families. For WTC, Grant Purdy has created a simple, haunting design for this classic and timeless family drama, full of humour and heartbreak. The story, fuelled by pity and duty, burdened by love and hate, is tempered by many moments of happiness and tenderness.

As always with WTC, the cast is a mixture of people we have loved before and new talent we will love in the future.

Laura is played by Francesca Carl who has just won Best Actress in the Lyrebird Awards. Francesca has played many roles at WTC since she first joined us for The Lady From The Sea in 2019.

We are delighted to welcome Audrey-Maeve Barker, an accomplished actor from the USA, who plays the formidable Amanda in her first role with WTC.

After a break of a few years, Jon Italiano, a well-known past member of our youth theatre, returns to play Tom.

Jim is played by Mason Frost, a young actor who is well known with other companies such as 1812 and Peridot, joins us for the first time.

This production along with Grant’s design, places great demands on the backstage team, as well as the cast. Grant is delighted to be working again with Jenny Ford as Stage Manager. A vital part of the production is music, and this is being arranged by Pam Ford. Similarly with costumes, where Noelene Cooper and Denise Farran have teamed up to design and produce the many required.

This is an exceptional play that will stay in your memory forever. As with most WTC shows, this will sell out for most performances. Tickets are on sale now at:

No Lights, No Lycra

The Mechanics’ Institute Hall is not only home to our membership groups but also to some regular hirers. One of these is No Lights, No Lycra run by Kim Thompson. Running now for seven years in Warrandyte, NLNL originated in Melbourne 12 years ago, and is now in 70 countries and 120 locations worldwide.

Every Wednesday night, from 7-8pm, the hall is plunged into darkness…. for a purpose. It’s a No Lights, No Lycra dance session.

There are no steps to learn or a teacher to follow. Quite simply, the lights are turned off, the music is turned up, and everyone is free to dance however they wish. (And no, you don’t bump into one another… Kim promises!) The playlists are different each week and vary in styles, genres and eras.

“ It’s the most fun form of exercise and a great mid-week way to release stress and just let go and dance “.

Bookings each week via the FaceBook page: No Lights No Lycra Warrandyte

($10 / $8 conc)

Pottery News

Potters to the rescue – how the “Follies” has been given a new lease of life.

There is nothing worse than seeing a beloved community art piece slowly deteriorate. Such was the case of the Picassoesque/Music Hall female sculpture that formed part of the couple known as the “Follies” and created by our potters under the direction of Marjorie Beecham in 2005/2006, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Warrandyte Theatre Company.

Why are they called the “Follies”? WTC has been staging its popular review known as the “Follies” for three weekends a year, over many years, so it was easy to see why the potters and WTC members chose a design that gave a nod to the larger than life vaudevillian reviews of the past – whether it be the Folies-Begere, a musical popular in mid to late 19th Century Paris, the Ziegfeld Follies in early 20th Century New York, or the British musical theatre reviews of the same era. The finished sculpture was colourful, fun and a little weird. At near life size it has stood at the hall entrance welcoming theatregoers and inquisitive tourists alike.

Fast forward to recent times. By 2020/2021 the female character – let’s call her Madam Follie - had lost both sleeved arms and hands. So what to do? The Association committee threw out the challenge to the potters. Ceri from the Wednesday group took charge. She was there in 2005 and worked on the original so it was with Ceri at the helm that the Tuesday and Wednesday potters commenced a 12 plus month task to retrofit new sleeved arms and hands.

There were design issues. The arms and hands had to fit together AND attach to the old torso. That awkwardly angled, exposed internal steel frame located insitu, made it difficult. Plus it seemed that the new arms would be too heavy to attach at the shoulder joint. And what about colour matching the new glazed arms with the old costume? Ceri of course had the answers.

How to make the new sections and fix them to the old body.

There were a few failed sets of arms and hands (either too much shrinkage in the firing or just not the right shape). After tweaks to the design and much filing and paring, Ceri finally produced arms and hands ready for glazing.

How to make the heavy new arms attach to the shoulders.

Create shoulder joints designed as a decorative puff sleeve that could attach to the outer neck area (a capsular fit). This was achieved with a giant wad of clay and some chicken wire. Not part of the original, but in keeping with Madam Follie’s costume.

Reproducing the old glazes or at least a compatible glaze.

Ceri found a recipe in Marjorie’s old glaze book, and presto, a beautiful light turquoise, not the same blue as the old arms, but just as good.

Firing awkward shapes.

Special supports were required to lay the arms horizontally off the kiln shelves so that there would be optimal heat and no glaze runs. Luckily no mishaps.

The final fix.

Armature wire was used extensively to position the new shoulder joints/puff sleeves, arms and hands in place. Ceri worked fast and with confidence. With wire in place, then came copious amounts of glue, then a slather of plaster applied to all joins. As soon as the plaster dried it was out with the paint tubes and a coat of paint to match the existing costume. Mission accomplished.

Praying that the weather would be kind and that the new glue, plaster and paint would hold.

Luck was on our side.

The tidy up.

Removing the armature wire carefully with wire cutters, while trying to minimize damage. Success.

Only thing left to do is a string of ceramic beads. Ceri is working on it !!

Sally - Wednesday Potter

The Bio Box Renovation is Complete (almost)!

At long last, after what seems months of disruption, our renovated bio box (control cabin) is largely complete. Ben Sawers has done a wonderful job dismantling the old ancient room and rebuilding a much larger and safer room. Adam Goudge has also re-built the sound and lighting systems, using up to date equipment and cabling.

All we must do now, is install the new bench top – which is due in three weeks.

The new room and its equipment was given a test drive for the latest theatre company play – Under the Table – and performed flawlessly. It was a delight for the tech team to have room to move and a pleasant and safe working environment. One person (no names, no pack drill) has even slept for two nights on the floor!!

We are incredibly grateful for the substantial grant from the Community Bank (Bendigo Bank) Warrandyte, and for kind donations from Rotary, the Riverside Market and the Lions Club, together with many smaller contributions from many other people. In particular, Drew Edwards, our master of sound, staged a DJ night and brought a group of talented DJs to the hall for an event that raised over $3k from online donations - from around the world!

Our next challenge, to bring the hall into the 21st Century and ensure it lasts for another 100 years, is the installation of cranked beams to support the timber roof trusses and replace the existing tie bars. These are no longer effective in preventing the truss system failing and pushing out the walls of the hall. We will also install a new lighting bar system, with audio and data capability, to be hung from the new support beams.

This project will hopefully take place in the first half of 2023.

Expect some exciting news on this, shortly!

Hall Maintenance Group

Some thanks to a few members

It's wonderful to see our ceramic pair greet us now, returned to full status. It is so much more welcoming. Thanks to Ceri and helpers from pottery. I understand it was a real task matching old with the new. Well done.

Overdue thanks to Ron, from life drawing, providing his expertise in lining and painting back stage. Great improvement. The ceiling is next.

Thanks to Sim and David, who spent some Easter time cleaning the overflowing hall gutters, along with Ben the builder, who removed an abundance of leaves, after a roof leak. Great work.The gutters can breathe now for a couple of months. Yeah!

Also thanks to my regular garden buddy June. The garden is slowly doing its own thing now, encouraged along with some mulch from the Festival billy-cart race. We also welcome Sharyn to our hall team. As the new cleaner she has adapted to working around the bio box build with no fuss, along with any extra attention required.

Much appreciated
Cheers Marion

Who else uses the hall under the umbrella of WMIAA?

Perhaps the most melodic users of the Mechanics Hall are the Chocolate Lilies Choir. Not the endangered local, purple native orchids that smell distinctively of chocolate, but a community choir named after that orchid, that has been singing sweet four part harmonies for more than three decades!

Local Steiner school Music Coordinator and teacher, Nerida Kirov, has been directing the “Lilies” since the choir’s inception. Everyone of any age and voice is welcome to join in rehearsals on Mondays, in the evening in the WMIAA hall at Warrandyte, or in the mornings at the Uniting Church Hall in Hurstbridge. Nerida makes us all feel extremely welcome, even as she patiently allows a little gossip between the serious business of learning new songs.

Whilst other choirs repertoires concentrate on classical works, or are relaxed single part singalongs, the Lilies enjoy the harmonies of soprano, alto, tenor and bass in styles that maybe termed “world music”, as well as contempory and original songs. For instance, at the recent Eltham Festival, the Lilies sang a lullaby from Ukraine, an indigenous song about the wisdom of elders, a song entreating world peace, and Nerida’s own arrangement of Archie Roach’s “We Won’t Cry”. The performance ended with a rousing rendition of the African “Shosholoza” with audience members joining in.

It’s not just the stretching, breathing and tonal exercises at the beginning of each rehearsal that help us feel good, nor is it the welcome social interactions and mutual support. Through happy and difficult times, the choir has sung over the years at weddings and funerals of Lilies choristers or families.

International studies have shown that singing, and particularly singing in performance situations, increases the antibodies in our throats, strengthening our immune systems. Singing also stimulates the happy hormones such as endorphins, dopamines and serotonins. We certainly finish with a smile!

Roma O’Callaghan, alto

If you are interested in joining us, contact Nerida: 

Out and About

Tony Clayton will be appearing in the romantic comedy, Barefoot in the Park, at the Lilydale Athenaeum Theatre, from April 20 through till May 6. A great production in a lovely theatre.

WMIAA Membership for 2023

Subscriptions are paid by clicking this link:

Just click on ‘Book Now’.

If you have any membership queries, please contact Noelene on 0400 861 133 or