What a fine annual gathering we had on Saturday, August 22nd.  Big thanks to Monique and Ben for hosting it at their beautiful country home.
  20 people attended.  We played croquet.  We chatted.  We ate.  Boy, did we eat (and sip).
  We held our formal Annual General Meeting, at which ...
- The financial report revealed we are quite solvent ... we have plenty of money to cover the expenses of the fall production plus the costs of our normal year-long operating expenses.  Those expenses—for the Beach House rental, snow removal, insurance, awards to support community theatre, etc., together with our sponsorship of the PEI Community Theatre Festival—are distinct from the money it takes to put on our productions, and in the coming year the cost will be about $7000.
- The Director of Theatre’s report reminded us of the three productions of the 08/09 season: “Jack the Ripper,” “Christmas Remembered” and “Evita.”
- Monique reported on the fun of the Reading evenings.
- Sophia reminded us that we had more than 90 members this year.
- Richard told us about “The Rocky Horror Show” coming up in October, and Jennifer spoke about the the renewal of the Community Theatre Festival next March.
- We held the election for officers of the Board ... and here is how that shapes up;
• President - Richard Haines       • Past-president - Rob Thomson
• Vice-president - Rob Reddin       • Treasurer - Jennifer Long
• Secretary - Janet Macdonald   • Membership coordinator - Sophia Wong
• Director of Theatre - Adam Gauthier • Readings coordinator - Monique Lafontaine
• Music adviser - Carl Mathis
  Still needed: Workshops coordinator ... ACT-out coordinator
- We presented ACT’s Community Theatre Appreciation Award to Wallena Higgins—recognizing her year-after-year contribution to the life of amateur theatre on PEI, through her stage managing and mentoring service with ACT as well as Charlottetown Rural High School and other community stage enterprises.
  Here is the President’s report to give an overview of ACT’s 08/09 year ...
• The Board held 10 monthly meetings between early September/08 and the end of June/09 ... plus a couple of e-mail votes.
• ACT’s membership surged this year to over 90 – chiefly because of strong involvement in Evita.  Thanks to Sophia Wong for handling membership matters.
• This was a somewhat limited year for our play-reading evenings.  There were just a few, although Monique Lafontaine did well in choosing a good variety, editing longer works to manageable size, and conducting the readings so that the dozen or so participants had a range of parts.
  Two tries at ACT-Out occasions did not work out so well.  A good experiment, though, was to have a dinner together before one of our own play-readings.
  One other good evening was the ‘Evita preview’ – video clips, biographical outline, tango demonstration, and information about the show – as a way of recruiting auditioners.
• ACT staged three successful productions in the 08/09 season:
- “Jack the Ripper: Monster of Whitechapel” by Joe Dickinson in October 2008.  Directed by Richard Haines and produced by Adam Gauthier, this comedic-melodramatic pleaser offered the novelty of optional endings.  It played to about 300 people at the Carrefour and had a surplus of over $1100.
- “Christmas Remembered,” the charming mix of sentimental songs and stories, was reprised by Brenda Porter at the Carriage House, a sort of co-production with Beaconsfield.  Audiences topped 100, and ACT’s share of the surplus was just over $300.
- “Evita,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice blockbuster, absorbed most of ACT’s energies this past year.  It engaged 100 participants: 45 singer-actor-dancers on stage, 15 musicians in the pit, and another 35 or so people carrying out the production tasks.  The creative directors were Mark Ramsay, Shirley Anne Cameron and Julia Sauvé, with costuming by Pam Jewell and set by Garney Gallant.  Producers were Brenda Porter and Rob Thomson.  2800 people saw the show at Confederation Centre; the budget was almost $40,000, and the surplus was over $13,500.
• This past spring, with leadership from Paul Whelan, ACT invited Island playwrights and would-be playwrights to submit short plays or play-sections ... with the plan that ACT would organize an evening or two to ‘give voice’ to the writings by way of a reading by actors.  There was a fair response, but it emerged that some refining was needed, and so the readings were postponed till fall.
• Especially with the boost of Evita, ACT has continued in financial good health. As the year ended we had $36,000 invested in GICs and a little over $10,000 in the bank account, ready to finance regular operations plus the fall production.
  It should be cautioned, though, that our non-production budget for the coming year is doubling, and it looks like it will be a deficit year.  It is easy to forget or be unaware of the on-going costs of operating ACT, as distinct from the money involved in putting-on-shows.  Our non-production expenses have been around $3000 over the past few years, but will be on the order of $7000 next year – owing to a more realistic rental arrangement, sponsoring the Community Theatre Festival, buying some equipment and having a contingency reserve.
  We have been fortunate to have Mar Thomson’s bookkeeping and financial advice.
• Gerry Gray carried out a significant reconstruction of the ACT web-site.
• We benefitted from publicity sponsorship arrangements with The Guardian and Ocean & K-Rock radio.
• ACT lent materials from our collection (set-pieces, props, costumes) to several theatre endeavours – reflecting our constitutional role to support community theatre activity beyond ourselves.
• We adopted two policies to give consistency to:
  - the loaning of materials (set-pieces, costumes, props, scripts, books, etc.)
  - payment of honoraria when we use professional help for choreography, music, set-building, costuming, graphics, lighting and such
  A policy to guide establishment and on-going management of ACT’s archives was created, but has yet to be formally adopted.
• A recommendation from last year’s ‘Thinking Session’ and the AGM was that ACT should get more active in offering theatre-related workshops.  So we held two of them this year:
- “Walk-and-Chew-Gum” took place in September 2008.  Jacqui Good, Leon Cole and the rest of the Rataplan players led several dozen participants in exercises to develop their singing and acting.
- “Stage versus Screen” was a weekend workshop in late May, put together by Corin McFadden, jointly sponsored by ACT and IMAC (Island Media Arts Coop).  It offered intensive actor training by Alex Scott, involving video recording and feedback.  Regrettably, there were just a half-a-dozen participants.
• ACT renewed the awarding of a ‘Theatre Review Prize’ to a student (this year it was Heather Parry) in UPEI’s theatre course for writing the best critical review of a production.
• Another award is being made: the Community Theatre Appreciation Award, for significant contribution to the life of amateur theatre on PEI.  [It was presented to Wallena Higgins at the end of the meeting.]
• The go-ahead was given and some groundwork laid for two major projects for 09/10:
  - mounting “The Rocky Horror Show” in later October;
  - ACT’s revival of the PEI Community Theatre Festival in March 2010 – with Jennifer Shields in the producer-coordinator role.
• Our thanks are expressed to people who are leaving the Board: Paul Whelan, Clair Smith and Corin McFadden – particularly for some of the helpful observations they each have contributed through Board-meeting discussions and e-mail advice.
  Very special appreciation is extended to Terry Pratt as he leaves the Board after terms as President and Past-President.  He has been an active leader, and a fount of historical knowledge and good-sense advice.  Repeatedly it was Terry who looked ahead and identified issues ... who diligently thought out the pros and cons and gave perceptive feedback ... who took responsibility to get things done.  He can now formally add ‘good and true service on the ACT Board’ to the lengthy resumé of contributions to many sectors of the PEI theatre scene.
  All in all, ACT has come a long way—and a very productive way—from that winter evening in early 1995 when seven or eight of us each put down $25 on a coffee table to mount “Our Town.”  It is ironic, by the way, that that money was used to buy two stepladders for our first set ... and this year we had to buy two stepladders to build the “Evita” set.  One wonders what became of the original ones!

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