PRESIDENT’S REPORT for year ended 31 August 2011 to be presented at the Annual General Meeting of Playwrights Assn of New Zealand (Inc)
When the Playwrights Assn was formed 53 years ago it was the only organization to represent NZ writers for the theatre or for film and television. Things have changed since then: Playmarket represents theatre writers, and NZ Writers Guild represents script writers. They are both industry bodies, and of late Playmarket will only accept writer members who have had a professional production of their work. I understand that Playmarket will also now consider taking on board only full length plays.
Therefore our Playwrights Association still has a very vital role to play. We have extremely experienced writers within our membership, and we have new and novice writers. All these people form a network of support and encouragement. A new writer may very well have a gift that is so good he or she emerges very quickly from amongst all the other poppies. We all like to stand tall, and no one here is in the mood to cut you down. We all love live theatre and are committed to encouraging Community Theatres throughout New Zealand to producing our plays.
The NZ Theatre Federation has wonderful one act play seasons and competitions each year. PANZ has a history of working closely with NZTF and I would hope that continues. We should also expect to benefit through contacts such as with members of Napier Repertory and others who habitually put on good new plays at the Theatre Federation competitions that are very successful.
Though in the past decade or so, we’ve had competitions that alternate each year from one act plays to full length, I wonder if it is time to consider having more emphasis on the one act plays, for the very reasons given above.
Our committee has been the strongest in numbers than has been the case for many years, and several have been office holders in the past.
Unfortunately we lost the services of the previous secretary after just four months in the job. Twelve months ago, Melissa Fergusson accepted the position of minute secretary; but we do need someone who will not only perform this task, but also file and store records, and write the very few letters we send out.
Melissa finds herself unable to carry on because of family and job responsibilities. I thank Melissa for the work she has done over the year.
We seldom are obliged to hold more than the required minimum of four committee meetings annually. Email correspondence has proved to be a godsend in discussing issues amongst the committee; and decisions can be approved at the next face-to-face meeting.
In my role of President, and especially over the past 20 months, I express my heartfelt thanks to Max and to Graeme for their ongoing support and good humour when matters were becoming a little uphill.
I wish to thank the other committee members, Neil, Richard, Bronwyn, Diane, Steve Green, for their attendance and input at meetings. We’ve always had a quorum which I dare to say, is a better turnout than in the past.
I hope you’ll put your weight in behind the incoming President, and help overcome the difficulties presented when only several are carrying the load. We all want time to write. It would be very sad indeed if Playwrights Association was forced to go into recess because we don’t have the personnel to help at the coal face. Email communication makes life much easier, and many of the Auckland committee members have already expressed willingness to travel a reasonable distance in order to meet and have a quorum in other centres.
My warm thanks to our Patron, John Dunmore. John has been a member of Playwrights Association for 25 years or more, and his close involvement on the committee in the past means that it’s been most beneficial to me to be able to consult him when needed. John has accepted graciously our request for him to continue as our Patron, and we indebted to him for allowing us to confirm his appointment once again.
Newsletter editor: Richard Harris has turned out a most attractive newsletter each two months. We’ve all enjoyed reading the tid bits that appear about various members’ successes over the year. We’re thankful that Richard will continue with the newsletter, as well as being prepared to take on responsibility of President.
It has been a convention that our association selects a different adjudicator each year for our competitions.
I want to thank Steve Wright, our competition judge this year for his painstaking work in selecting what he considers to be the best plays put forward. Steve has had considerable experience in directing and acting in community theatre and he knows what will ‘work’.
Membership: despite the fact that we have an overall lower membership than in years past, it is heartening to report that there have been nine new PANZ members this past year coming from afar afield as Nelson and Tutukaka. Much of the association’s original membership is getting somewhat older. Our newer members are breathing young life blood into PANZ.
This year we lost one of our Life Members and former President, Rosalie Carey. Rosalie turned 90 in April, and up till 6 months before she died was still performing and writing. She had a book of her poems published in January. Rosalie displayed remarkable sustainability in her devotion to theatre.
Members’ successes: I congratulate the many who have had plays produced over the last twelve months. In no particular order I bring to mind: Angie Farrow, Bronwyn Elsmore, Richard Prevett, Rex McGregor, Jennie Turner, Scott Frater, TJ Ramsay, April Phillips, Neil Troost, Campbell Smith, Tresna Hunt, Val Franklin, and two of my own were performed in Oamaru. Frances Edmond is studying in Germany. There may be others which I have omitted, and I apologize if this is so.
I leave you with something to ponder. Does a single character in a performance constitute a play? This is something several of us have wondered over the years. It’s become somewhat of a fashion to write what is in truth a biography, but for my own part, I like to see interaction between characters and it is this latter that I consider a play! It’s surely more of a challenge to write interactive dialogue, and aren’t we all up to a challenge?
Thank you all for the companionship I’ve found in being President of this dynamic group.
I offer myself to help on the committee for the foreseeable future, and to support the incoming President.
June Allen, retiring President. 13/11/2011