Margaret Maclure

Margaret Maclure was Chair of the society from 1975-76. She left this booklet of advice to committees who would follow. This is copied from the original which can be found in the Archive. Handwritten notes were added in 1977/8.

Part I: Summer Term

1. Summer Concert

The repertoire for the summer concert 1975 was decided on at the end of the Spring term (immediately after the AGM), round the table at one of the Thursday meetings. We usually try to get a good balance of chorus items and solos, duets etc from a wide range of operettas. The summer concert is envisaged as an opportunity for those who haven't had principal parts in the major productions to display their talents. However, in the past people have often been shy of putting themselves forward, so it might be a good idea to give them a lot of encouragement (and perhaps help in choosing a suitable song). There is no reason of course why past principals shouldn't sing solos as well, but I, at least, think that the other should have first refusal.

1.1. Music and Scores

For solos etc scores can usually be found from among the members. For chorus items last year we had a lot of music duplicated (Brian Kennedy See Chris Rees was in charge of this). No doubt some of this could be used again.

1.2. Venues

More or less depends on the committee or the members. Last year's concert for the populace of the village of Wass, in the village hall, was a great success, with a splended buffet laid on afterwards. If you want to do this again, the person to contact is:

Mrs P Svendgaard
Pear Tree Cottage
WASS (Phone 936 447)

(Mrs Svengaard is the aunt of one of our past members, David Gray). For transport to and from Wass, which is about 25 miles from York, we hired a bus. It was paid for by the Wass people, and we arranged with them for them to have all the takings from the sale of tickets. They also provided their own programme sheets.

We also did the concert on campus. This was extremely poorly attended (approx. 30 people), partly because it was the Sunday before the end of term (Sun 22 June). In Vanbrugh DR. If a campus concert is planned this year we would suggest a date earlier in the term if possible, and not a Sunday. A porter had to be paid for. (Handwritten note: 1977 concert held on Thursday, with better publicity. 28 people came.)

1.3. Party

There was a party in Wentworth JCR after the concert. Note: JCRs have to be booked well in advance for parties.

Suggestion: If possible, it might be a good idea to try and get away from the rather boring format of previous concerts, where we more or less just stood up and sang each item. Perhaps minimal props and costumes, and some staging and choreography could be included. (Copy of last year's concert programme included in file)

2. Donald Adams Inaugural Dinner

On 17th June 1975 we held a dinner to celebrate the inauguration of Donald Adams as Honorary President, and Frank Banks as Vice- President. It was a very good night, and popular opinion seems to be in favour of making it an annual event. (Donald Adams recently asked whether we were having a dinner this year, which is a good sign). Negotiations have to be started very early with Donald Adams, to find a date among his busy schedule when he is free. Only after that has been settled can all the other arrangements be made. We used Vanbrugh DR (yes, again) cut in half by room dividers to make it more intimate. It worked quite well.

2.1 Menu

Vanbrugh Chef provided a selection of menus for us to choose from, at varying costs. We chose one for which we charged £2.25 per head including a glass of sherry before the meal. (Copy of menu can be found in the year-book). £2.25 was perilously near the actual cost of the meal, so that we made a loss on the dinner, after we had paid for Mr and Mrs Adams' travelling expenses and room in Vanbrugh, flowers for the table, presentation pottery tankards, printing of tickets, hire of a film, porter. This is not to be recommended as it gives the Treasurer sleepless nights, and we need every penny of our funds for the next production. On the other hand, if the price goes too high people won't come. Two possible suggestions: choose a cheaper, less impressive meal, or decide to subsidise the affair. That is, however, the next committee's headache.

2.2 Film

We hired a film of "Ruddigore"- edited highlights- with Donald Adams in it, to show after the speeches. (address at back)

2.3 Administration

Dorothy Thompson, Assistant Domestic Bursar of Vanbrugh and staunch G&S member, helped with all aspects of the dinner: arranging tables, providing a selection of table wines to be on sale in the DR, among other things. (Handwritten note: DOROTHY HAS NOW LEFT)

2.4 Flowers

We bought flowers (from the flower shop in Goodramgate) on the day of the dinner, to be put on the table and in the Adams' room. Dot Thompson kept them in her office, and arranged them on the tables before the dinner.

2.5 Tickets

We had them done by a now defunct University department. You might want to use Ultraprint (address at back), or do it even cheaper by running off your own duplicated slips- depends on how posh you want to be. We put on the tickets "Dress Optional", so that men wouldn't feel obliged to venture into anything silly like evening jackets. Most men wore lounge suits (including Donald Adams) and the women wore long dresses. (Copy of last year's ticket in the year-book).

2.6 Numbers

We grossly over-estimated the number of people who would want to come, and thought most would want to bring partners, which they didn't. We initially meant to book Kings' Manor dining room, but thought our numbers would be too large for the upper limit of about 60 people. In the event, barely 40 people in all came, as far as I can remember.

*The most important thing is to write to Donald Adams as soon as possible to get a date fixed (address at back). (Handwritten note: 1977: Dinner held at The Willow Chinese restaurant- they are very flexible on numbers, which is helpful.)

3. Other things to be done in the Summer Term

3.1 Vocal Scores

For next year's production. Have to be ordered from the Public Library's Music Dept. They usually come through inter-library loans, so time has to be allowed for that. They should be booked so that they arrive in time for the first rehearsal of the Autumn Term. The Library will probably only release them for an initial period of up to the end of December, but the booking can be renewed without returning the scores to the library. Final return date for the "Ruddigore" scores was 20 March 1976, which gave a useful period for tracking down wandering scores. Any scores not returned have to be replaced at full cost, so the secretary should keep a careful check on exactly who has received a score. Alison numbered each score in faint pencil and entered it against each person's name. Don't let idiots write their name in ink on them, as has happened.

+++3.2 Entry for Student Booklet
The S.U. will send round a circular asking someone to submit an enticing paragraph advertising the Society.

Part II: Vacation (Preparation for next term)

1. Societies' Mart

You'll be contacted by the SU to book a table for the Mart, which takes place at the end of week 0 of the first term. CAUTION: our application apparently went missing last year, causing panic at the Mart and rising blood pressure on the part of the Chairman, so check before-hand that the application has arrived, or deliver it by hand, or something.

1.1 Posters

We had posters done by a member of the Society advertising the forthcoming rehearsals for "Ruddigore" and inviting people to come along to the Mart and enlist. On all College notice-boards.

1.2 Hand-outs

For distributing to interested loiterers at the table. These will have to be handed in to the Union Office, which does all the duplicating of Society handouts and letters, in good time for the Mart. During term-time two days are needed for getting things duplicated. Our Society pigeon-hole on the first floor of Goodricke should be checked periodically.

2. Arrangements for Coffee Evening

Last year we had a coffee evening at the beginning of week 1 for new members to meet old ones and generally socialise. We booked Wentworth GCR, which has just about big enough, and quite pleasant. If you want to do this again, contact Sheila Mitchell, Wentworth Domestic Bursar. The evening has to be [publicised at the Societies' mart (we used the back of left-over tickets from the dinner).

  • We would recommend that other methods should also be tried to get people who drop off after the first couple of rehearsals to stop doing that. The fault must lie with the Society, but this year's committee hasn't been able to find out what kills the initial enthusiasm. Some fall-off is to be expected, but ours is appalling (of the membership list vs. the actual number of active participants).

3. Booking Rehearsal Room For Next Term

Best to do this as early as possible, especially if you want Vanbrugh DR, which is in demand these days. Fiona Sands, Vanbrugh Secretary, makes the bookings. Also, after consultation with the Musical Director, book extra evenings for Principals' rehearsals, if he thinks this is necessary.

Part III: Autumn Term

1. Vocal Scores

To be collected from Public Library and catalogued

2. Auditions

2.1 Audition Pieces

In consultation with the Musical Director and the Producer, the committee went through the score and libretto of "Ruddigore" selecting songs and lines for each character to be auditioned. Seems fair not to pick bits which are very difficult, bearing in mind that the new members won't have had much time to familiarise themselves with the music, but on the other hand, don't choose bits that are too easy, for someone might be awarded a part who could manage the bit s/he had to sing at the audition, but isn't too hot on the more difficult bits. As soon as the audition pieces were selected they were duplicated and sent to all members, with invitations to audition. Also date of auditions. We made some effort to arrange for those who wished, especially the new members, to have a run-through of the pieces they were to sing, so that they could get the feel of the thing. These individual practices were arranged informally, with Ken.

2.2 Date for Auditions and Room-Booking

We booked Vanbrugh again for the auditions. It's important to get a date which is quite early in the term, so that real work on the score can begin, but you also have to give new members time to learn the music.

2.3 Casting Committee

The Producer and Musical Director are of course automatically on the committee. Others are by invitation. Last year's committee was:

Ken Roberts (Musical Director)
Stephen Errey (Producer)
Frank Banks (Honorary VP)
Audry Price (Alcuin Assistant DB)
Mr & Mrs Brian Parker

Frank would almost certainly be delighted to be invited to be on the committee, if he's around, and he knows a lot about G&S. Similarly Audrey Price, who is a member of the Society, and sang in last year's summer concert, but couldn't manage rehearsals for "Ruddigore". Mrs Parker once worked in Wentworth, but doesn't anymore; she's very interested in light opera, and her husband is a professional musician. If you want to invite them, the phone number is: 21723.

It is helpful if the casting committee are provided with a list of the parts in the order they are to be auditioned, with the order of appearance of the people auditioning for each part (alphabetical order avoids controversy). Also spare scores and libretti are required for the committee, if possible.

*It should be stressed to auditionees that the process is not a daunting one, or shouldn't be. The committee is usually relaxed and informal, and everyone should feel at ease.

3. Costumes

Very much depends on what show we're doing, but things have to be put in motion as soon as possible. Hiring from professional costumiers is likely to be prohibitively expensive, so we may have to do as last year and beg, borrow and make our own. List of the contacts we used at the back. Pauline Clark did all the spade work last year in tracking down the borrowed costumes- she has extensive contacts- and made all the other costumes. At present she is in the S.W. shop. One committee member should be put in charge of costumes.

3.1 Hired Costumes

Having tried and failed with all our contacts to get men's costumes, we hired them from a theatrical costumier (address at back). Cost was £3.00 per costume per week plus £8 returnable deposit. This is extremely competitive compared with the big companies like Homburg's and Mutries.

4. Orchestral scores

These should be ordered from the D'Oyly Carte by the end of term at the latest, but preferably before (address at back). Cost this year was £15 for full set plus £20 returnable deposit. This doesn't include postage for sending them back, which has to be done promptly. They are delivered to the door. It's advisable to make sure the Musical Director collects the scores from the members of the orchestra before they disappear, immediately after the last performance on the Saturday night. The scores are delivered one month before the first performance of the show.

5. Backdrops

We got the "Ruddigore" one from James Fredericks' (address at back). Cost: approx. £7.50 plus VAT. Order by end of term. They are sent by rail, and have to be collected from the station, on receipt of a despatch note.

Part IV: Spring Term

I. Publicity

1. Posters

The design for the "Ruddigore" posters was taken from a reproduction of an old song-sheet, in a book at the Public Library. John Blake, Wentworth, did the art-work. We had them printed by Sharpe and Powell (address at back) and thought they were very good. We had 100 done, but that wasn't nearly enough, especially as members like to have one as a souvenir. At least 200 would be nearer the mark. Again, we were very late in getting them printed, due to some trouble in finding a suitable design and getting it done, an this cut the time for exposure to the public. Would recommend having them into the printers by week 3 of second term.

1.2 Outlets

Among other places, we distributed the posters to the following places:
Public Library
Tourist Information Centre (De Grey Rooms)
Banks Music Shop, Stonegate
Sports & Leather Shop, Lendal
Fanny's Restaurant (Pavement)
Peter Madden's Restaurant (High Petergate)
Sound Effect, King's Square
Sweeny Todd, Hairdressers, Stonegate

That's all I can remember, but there were lots of others. We could have done more, had we had more posters printed. You need one volunteer to go through the town centre on foot, touting the posters rounds the shops, plus someone with a car to put some up in the outlying districts. Apart from this, posters were put up all round campus. Many of these were taken down, in spite of slashing, so we did a last-minute publicity drive, with large hand-painted posters, which we put up in prominent places during the week of the show.

2. Tickets

Done by Ultraprint (address at back) much cheaper than Central Hall's own service, which we used previously. 600 each night (Friday and Saturday). Cost: £8.64 (1977 £10.85). Recommend having them done by week 4 at the latest. Cost of ticket per head: 50p. (Price decided on by committee).

2.1 Outlets

Sound Effect, King's Square, sold them at 7% (1977 10%) commission. S.U. shop at a very small commission. At the door. On the Friday and Saturday of the public performances tables were set up outside the eating-places on campus, and volunteers sold tickets. Quite a few were sold. (Handwritten note: Be polite to SU Shop staff- they can be nasty)

2.2 Children's and OAP's Performance

No tickets were printed for this. The charge was 10p, collected at the door.

3. Programmes

3.1 Advertising

If using advertising, the procedure is to get a list of likely customers (Handwritten note- How about the brewers whose firewater is on tap in Central Hall?) e.g. from those in "What's On York", Nouse etc. (list of some of the advertisers we contacted in file). Write to them at the beginning of Term 2 explaining what you're offering, and say you'll ring them up in a couple of days' time to discuss it with them. Most will say no, but a few will agree, and many of the ones who said no this time asked to be remembered on future occasions, when their budgets might allow for it, so it's worth trying them again. Nick Cater of Nouse, who was invaluable in all aspects of publicity, let us use the Nouse office (Derwent) phone to ring the advertisers, which is convenient, and more professional than shoving two-penny pieces in during the conversation. (Handwritten note- Almost best to go in person!)

3.2 Charges

The charges we made for ads were:
Full page (A5) £10 (Handwritten note: £8 Should not this be lower?)
1/2 page £4
1/4 page £2
1/8 page £1

We sold 3 half-pages for "Ruddigore"- total £12. Accounts for the ads should be sent to the advertisers after the programme has been printed, enclosing a specimen programme.

3.3 Layout

On Nick Cater's advice we decided to use off-set litho, which is cheaper when you compile the whole layout yourself, as we did with Nick's help, and send it camera-ready to the printers to be photographed. We used 2 A4 sheets folded double, giving 8 A5 pages sides, with ads on inside front and on back page. The advertisers sent Nick their copy, which he laid out, using Lettraset etc. You need an experienced typist (Alison this year) to type out the internal material- cast-list, orchestra, waffle about the show and Society etc. This material has to be manipulated and chopped to fit the space available. A good electric IHM typewriter is needed to get a professional finish for photographing. We were going to use the Nouse machine, but it wasn't in a good condition, so as a very special favour Peter Winscale of the Print Unit let Alison use theirs. But we can't promise that this will be available next year. The front design was done by John Blake, taken from the poster design.

3.4 Printers

Graphic Reproductions (address at back). Cost: £31, including extra charge for reducing two pages of print, for approx 1200.


Before doing anything about programmes we would recommend contacting Nick Cater and begging obsequiously for his help.

3.6 Programmes for the Special Performance on the Thursday

We had programme sheets duplicated and handed out free of charge for the special performance. The material was lifted from the official programme.

II. Other Advertising

1. "What's On In York"

Tourist information leaflet, free to the public. For a boxed ad: cost approx £3.10 (address at back and specimen of our ad in the year-book). Copy has to be in one week before the publication date. We had our ad in the issue for week beginning Friday 20 February, and they also ran a small free ad in the next week's issue (From Friday 27)

2. Yorkshire Evening Press

2.1 Adverts

We ran an ad on two nights. First: the Saturday before the show (21 Feb), then again on the Friday of the first public performance (27). Cost: £5.60 each time. Copy of ad in the year-book. The ad has to be put into the Evening Press Office in Coney Street the day before it's due to appear.

2.2 Press Coverage

We sent a letter to David Myton of the "Amateur Stage" column, telling about the Society and the show, about a month beforehand. He didn't use it then, but obviously saved the copy to use under the photo taken by the Press photographer at the dress rehearsal, so it was worth the effort. To make sure we got a photographer to the dress rehearsal, we handed in a letter to the office on the day of the dress rehearsal (25th), and also on the day before_ (24th). (Copy of press-photo in year-book).

3. University Radio

We made a short tape from the record of "Ruddigore", with voice-over, which was played a few times before the show.

4. North Yorkshire County Library Leaflet of Events in York

We didn't use this, because we didn't know about it, but it would be useful. It's printed every three months (copy of this quarter's included in file), and is circulated to libraries and institutions all over the North of England. For next year's show, if it takes place at the same time as this year's, copy should be handed in to the Information Bureau in York Public Library for the September-February and November-April issues. Latest date for enclosure is about one month before these publication dates.

5. Costume Parade

On the Saturday before the show a few daring souls went through the town centre in costume, distributing leaflets advertising the show in seductive terms. We dispensed 300 leaflets in an amazingly short time. (Handwritten note: MORE LEAFLETS!)

6. Dining Room Table Handouts

On the day of each public performance we distributed handouts throughout the college eating places and library snack bar. I think we had about 200 printed. (Handwritten note: Get more! 1977: 400)

III. Booking Central Hall

1. Initial Booking

Has to be done right after the AGM, to make sure of getting the date we want. Room Bookings in Hes Hall (Handwritten note: H121) deal with this, and are very sympathetic to the G&S Choice of dates: last year we wanted week 7 for the show, to give us an extra week's practice (which we certainly needed!). But, having cleared this with Hes Hall, we found that the week was surrounded by choir and orchestra concerts, so we wouldn't have been able to get an orchestra. So we reverted to week 6. (Handwritten note: Always check at the Lyons Box Office first, to see what their programme is. (Obsequious attitude essential)).

1.2 Booking Form

The booking after the AGM is only provisional, and has to be made official by filling in a form. Technically, the latest date for submitting it is 3 weeks before the show, but they always want it sooner, and it's best done at the start of term 2. Form is complicated, but Mike Powell (Manager of Central Hall) or Room Bookings secretaries will help. Seating plan also has to be filled in. (Included in file: copy of booking form for CH with all specifications filled in. This is typed up by Room Bookings from the form we hand in). If at all possible, it would be worthwhile agitating to get the Hall past 10.30 pm. at least on the night of the dress rehearsal, as we were very short of time this year.

1.3 Bar

Someone has to go and see the Bar people (somewhere in Wentworth) to confirm that we're going to do exactly what we did the previous year. We have to underwrite the Bar for a certain sum, so that if the takings fall below this we have to make up the difference. This has never happened.

IV. Schools and Pensioners Performance


List of schools included in file. Each school should be contacted via head-teachers at beginning at beginning of term 2, with detachable slip for replies (specimen of this year's letter included). Some schools expect confirmation of their booking, which is a bit thick, and expensive. We contacted only Primary schools.
OAPs: list included in file. Same dates as for contacting schools.

1.2 Details of Catering Arrangements

For schools' performance, and front-of-house arrangements for all 3 performances. See appended notes. (Handwritten note: There are none: see Kathleen Crabbe, Vanbrugh's Domestic Bursar about 3 weeks before show. Confirm bar booking personally with Catering Office.)

V. After The Show

1. The Stage

Must be dismantled, with the aid of CH staff, immediately after the show. Also dressing rooms must be left tidy and clear of personal belongings. This year the men's dressing room was left like a disaster area, with paper hankies all over the place. Many volunteers are needed for this clearing up, so don't let people rush off to the party without helping.

Many more people are needed in the week following the show to dismantle scenery and store it, pack and return costumes, clear up the rehearsal room etc. Everything doesn't end with the last curtain.

1.2 Orchestral Scores

These have to be cleaned up- ie pencil marks rubbed out, carefully wrapped up, and sent back to the D'Oyly Carte Company as soon as possible, but on the Monday following the show at the latest, so as not to jeopardise our deposit! We sent them by parcel post

1.3 Costumes

If any are hired, these must be packed up and sent off immediately too. This year we sent them via British Rail, to be collected by the costumiers at the other end. As we were unavoidably delayed in sending them off, we sent them by special recorded service, on passenger train. This comes much more expensive than the ordinary rail service. For 1 hamper, plus a carton containing 4 top hats the charge was £7.57. You get a record of posting.

Borrowed costumes have to be returned, and if any are dirty they must be cleaned first. The costumes which we ourselves own should be cleaned and stored, although this is a problem at present as we have no storage room. For the moment, Pauline Clark has some of the costumes at her home, and Margaret Maclure has the rest.

1.4 Backdrop

Come in a sort of kit bag. Sent back via train, to be collected.

VI Parties

Especially the one after the showL those who volunteer for specific tasks- eg food, drink, music, should have it made clear to them that they are expected to be responsible for these functions not only before the party, but during it, and for cleaning up afterwards as well. Otherwise overworked members of the committee (Alison this year) get stuck behind bar or turn-table all night, or things disintegrate because there is no-one to look after them. The committee deserve a rest after the show!

1.1 Room for Party

This should be booked early, as we had no success in getting a JCR this year, being too late. (Handwritten note: Disco equipment will probably be necessary.)

1.2 Presentation to VIPs

Usually the Musical Director, Producer and anyone else the committee feels should be recognised are presented with thank-you gifts for their work, with accompanying speeches. This year we decided we couldn't afford the previously-given pewter tankards, and settled for glass instead. The presentations are financed by a collection from the members.

1.3 Food

This year we were given a donation of £10 by Chris Reed, which we used to provide the food, and so didn't have to fleece the members for this. We provided beer and cider, and asked people to bring a bottle (not many did).

(Handwritten note: Party after 'Patience' was a complete disaster as fas as those who had responsibility ie. gate-crashers, no real bar rota…! Perhaps a private house might be more conducive to the spirit of the evening?)

VII Miscellaneous

1. On Staging and Scenery

I am not really qualified to write on this, but I would like to make a few observations:

1.1 Fireproofing

Scenery which is likely to be inflammable has to be painted or sprayed with a flame-proofing solution. This consists of:
10oz Boracic Acid Crystals
8oz Borax
1 Gallon water

(Ingredients from Boots, Coney Street). Several applications are necessary.

1.2 Organisation of Scenery-building and Painting

Firstly, more members should be encouraged to come along and help. The same few hardy souls seem to end up doing everything every year, which is not a healthy state for the involvement of the Society as a whole. Secondly, the sessions should be well-organised. This, ideally, is the province of the Stage Manager. Especially the following points:
a. If you're going to have a lot of people turning up, make sure there are enough materials and tools to go round. One pot of glue among 6 people is counter-productive. Particularly, things we could have had in greater numbers: paint-brushes, containers for mixing paints and solutions; glue
b. Make sure everything that's needed for a session is obtained before everyone turns up expecting to be put to work. It's a nuisance when people have to rush off into York to get forgotten materials.
c. GET STARTED EARLIER: It's always later than you think. Everything to do with staging should be in perfect working order and completed, not by the dress rehearsal, but by the Technical rehearsal, which comes at least one day earlier.

VIII Final Remarks

These notes are intended as a guide to future committees of the work that we found had to be done to keep things running. It is not intended in any sense to be a categorical statement of things that must be done. In fact, that would be a bad idea, for the Society is continually evolving, and new and better methods are bound to supersede them. At best it will provide a rough outline to which people can refer if they want to see what's been done in the past.

-Margaret Maclure
March 1976

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