Dear BAOS family – Life members, members, Ambassadors, friends and supporters
I hope everyone is keeping safe and well, however Covid-19 is affecting you. I know we have members of the BAOS family who are working or volunteering in health & social care, teaching, essential retail and deliveries, and other industries providing services to ensure we can continue to shop and live aspects of our lives normally. We also have members who are shielding, whose education has been disrupted or who have been furloughed. The prolonged lockdown is difficult for many but I hope the goal of minimising the spread of Covid-19 and the aim of resuming a more normal life as soon as it is safe to do so are keeping you going. BAOS is a part of that normal life for many of us and so I want to update you on what has been happening for the society and the plans we have for the future.
My Fair Lady
Most of you will know that Anvil Arts made the difficult decision to close the Haymarket 5 hours before the first performance of our 2020 show, My Fair Lady. We went ahead with the dress rehearsal the night before, as the Haymarket was still open for business at that point. Everyone treated it as a performance and we left the theatre feeling the buzz of that and with some fabulous photographs. It was intensely disappointing for all involved not to perform to an audience but it wasn’t really a surprise by then. We feel particularly for those who had a principal role and those new members who were looking forward to their first BAOS show. But even at that time we understood the health concerns of all and had already had audience contacting us to say they would no longer be able to attend because of the risks involved. Since then, the UK situation has obviously moved on, with schools, pubs and theatres being instructed to close later that week and the lockdown starting the week after.
Apart from the disappointment at not being able to perform, the cancellation of the show deprived us of the opportunity to thank everyone who had put so much into it over the months leading up to that day. I hope we will be able to thank them in person at some point after the lockdown is lifted but I should now like to thank:
- The cast for their hard work and good humour over the months we spent rehearsing lines, harmonies and dance routines. As with any show, we faced various obstacles and together we overcame them with our senses of humour generally intact. We created a fabulous show and you have dealt with its cancellation with patience and understanding. Thank you.
- The band who gave us two amazing sessions at band call and dress rehearsal. Thank you for exciting us all with your wonderful sound and giving us that experience.
- Suppliers of lighting, sound, costumes, wigs, props and photography, and those who helped source them. These are an essential part of the visual impact of any show and so much time goes into planning and preparing all of these. The photos of the dress rehearsal show how good it was looking. Thank you all for the time and expertise you put into it.
- Members of committee who work tirelessly behind the scenes organising all sort of things from finances to rehearsal hall hire, preparing the programme to marketing, and provision of libretti to allocating dressing rooms. It’s not glamorous but it is essential. Thank you for all your hard work and fantastic teamwork.
- The directing team of Sue Sampson (Director), Trevor Defferd (MD), and Alex Stores (Choreographer), ably assisted by Stephanie Webb (AD), Owen White (Production Assistant) and Tracey Emery (Dance Captain). Sue and Alex took on their roles at short notice but the whole team rapidly came together to put the cast through their paces and bring their vision to life. Despite a tight time frame and unavoidable absences you cajoled and coerced us into sounding and looking amazing. Thank you for your flexibility and commitment as well as your considerable talent.
- And lastly I should like to thank our backstage team of Caroline Price (Production Manager), Sharon Watson (Stage Manager), John Eddie (DSM), all the crew, the Haymarket staff and everyone who helped in any way with get in and an unexpectedly early get out. Apart from the considerable preparation prior to get in, you had, as usual spent two long, physically exhausting days getting everything into the theatre, followed by the demands of Tech rehearsal, and a performance-standard Dress rehearsal. Then the next day you had to begin the equally exhausting task of dismantling the set, untying the many cloths and getting everything out of the theatre. We are very fortunate to have such a fabulous group of volunteers and supportive professionals who regularly give their time to working backstage. Whatever is thrown at you, you remain calm, friendly and professional. Your famous sense of fun must have been tested in the extreme that week. A very heartfelt thank you to you all.
We had already incurred many of the costs of the show in preparing for it but have obviously now received no ticket revenue. However, as it was Anvil Arts who cancelled the show and not BAOS, we have been able to submit an insurance claim which has gone a good way towards covering many of those costs. We are also extremely grateful to those members and supporters who realised that we faced taking a financial hit and made donations to BAOS. Thank you so much for your generosity! In addition, some of our suppliers generously waived their fees so another grateful thank you to them. As a result, BAOS remains financially sound.
We have also considered, and discussed with Anvil Arts, whether or not we could pick up the show to perform it in the autumn after a short revision period. Cast member were very keen to do this and quite a few people who had bought tickets asked us to let them know if it was rescheduled. Unfortunately we have now decided that this is not practical. Anvil Arts is unable to offer us a suitable slot in the Haymarket and, after all these weeks of lockdown when we are still only allowed to meet a small number of people outdoors, we are concerned about when we might be able to rehearse, the size of audience we would get and therefore the small income we would receive. We are also about to renew our insurance and Covid-19 is now a specific exclusion, so we would not be able to make a claim if we had to call it off again because of Covid-19. So sadly we have had to make that decision.
Various online BAOS events have taken place over the last few weeks. We began with Funky Friday, a chance to meet up online for a chat and to see a friendly face, plus a quiz or scavenger hunt. More recently group sings, where people submit videos to be combined into a virtual ensemble, have been offered and Hollie Parks has been leading dance sessions. All of these are promoted through the BAOS members Facebook page so do keep an eye on that if you’d like to join in with any of these. And many many thanks to all those giving their time and energy to organising them. Please let us know if you have any ideas for future online events.
At the moment it is unclear when we will be able to rehearse or socialise in large groups safely but we are continuing to plan and devise contingency plans.
We had to postpone our planned Open Mic night and have put plans for a Quiz Night on hold. Both of these will be revived when we are free to do so.
We have also had to cancel our summer concert as we have been unable to rehearse. This was scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday 12th July. The rules and guidance on socialising are changing all the time so it is still a possibility that we will hold a social event such as a picnic that day instead in order to bring the BAOS family together again. Any decision will have to be fairly last minute and will entirely depend on the guidance at the time, but do keep an eye out for a short notice invitation!
Our constitution states “There shall be an annual general meeting of the Charity which shall be held in the month of September in each year or as soon as practicable thereafter.” We will plan for a meeting in September and will give the required minimum 21 days’ notice when we decide on the format. It may be necessary to hold the meeting online or we may opt to delay the meeting slightly in order to be able to hold it in person.
We are also planning to begin rehearsals for our next show, Wind In The Willows, in September. Again we may need to be imaginative with rehearsals initially. We’re very pleased that Adam Bayjou will be directing the show for us and that Simon Eastwood will be the Musical Director, and we will work with them to manage the preparations and ensure we are ready to enjoy a return to the Haymarket in 2021. More details will follow!
Our annual carol singing is planned for Sunday 6th December. As part of our marketing of My Fair Lady we sang a selection of songs from the show in the period setting of Milestones Museum. Milestones have now invited us to sing carols at their Victorian market on 6th December, and we also hope to be able to sing for our friends at Lady Susan Court that day.
And finally, 2022 marks BAOS’s centenary. We are starting to plan events to mark this amazing milestone. One of those is an exhibition of all things BAOS. We will use material from our archive but may also contact members for items to be included. If anyone is inspired to produce artwork, writing, poetry, textiles etc inspired by BAOS (e.g. memories, or what BAOS means to you) we should love to consider it for inclusion in the exhibition. Maybe it will give you an outlet for your artistic side during lockdown. I have an idea for a collaborative sewing project so do please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org if you might be interested in being a part of that.
I do look forward to seeing you when we are free to meet up again. In the meantime please stay safe and well.