WI Report – February 2017

With Janet in hospital having undergone a hip replacement Angie assisted Trish with the meeting. Janet has returned home and is recovering well. The correspondence included a thankyou from Tina for flowers and from YMCA Mendip for the Christmas shoe boxes. We welcomed a visitor, Libby.

A report from the Polden Hills Group stated that the Christmas Concert had been excellent with the profit going to Charlton House Hospice for children. Weston Zoyland were winners of the league skittles competition. There are now only four teams remaining in the league, Ashcott, Puriton, Walton and Woolavington.

Seven members are attending the Soup and Pud lunch at Walton. Trish will host a coffee morning on March 9 in aid of St Margaret’s Hospice. Ladies Who Lunch meet on February 10 at the Castlebrook Inn. The Annual General Meeting of the Meadway Hall will be held March 23. Patricia Heap is standing down as our representative on the village hall committee, Trish expressed our heartfelt thanks to her for all the hard work she had put in on our behalf. A new representative is required and Trish asked for a volunteer. Monday April 24 a W I Speakers Audition will be held at the hall and we are required to supply the catering service. This will involve tea, coffee, cakes, and soup or ploughman’s for lunch.

Sandy Bateman, our speaker introduced us to the Magic of Minack. Her talk consisted of two parts, a brief history of the Minack Theatre and secondly her personal involvement in the theatre. Sandy is a retired primary teacher, a member of Dundry W I and a Friend of the Minack. Rowena Cave established the Minack in 1931 practically building it single handed with the help of two local labourers who were knowledgable of building materials and methods.

Sandy decided she wanted to be an actress when she was 16 years old, she was allowed to attend a theatre school part time whilst working by day in a book shop at Bristol. The proprietor of the theatre school took pupils to perform at the Minack. John and Jacky Isles of Abbots Leigh Bristol formed a theatre company called Abbots Leigh Players and through this Sandy had the opportunity to perform at the Minack. The Minack is a magical place and Sandy has remained enamoured to

this day, although no longer taking part in performances.

The procedure is for a theatre company to pay rent to the Minack in order to perform there, in the early days the facilities were very limited but now are much improved. A committee chooses several plays to be submitted for consideration the trustees of the Minack making the final decision. Sandy’s first performance was in The Admiral Creighton, with rehearsals taking place at Abbots Leigh.Sandy would have to work around her commitment to her work as a school teacher which meant only performing at the end of July and throughout August but in 25 years Sandy always managed to do this. In the early days lighting was supplied by equipment taken down in a van and additional lighting supplied by car headlights but modern lighting equipment is now installed.

Saturday mornings were “get in and out” days, Sunday mornings, on stage at 10 am and rehearse all day. Sunday night major dress rehearsal the audience consisting of trustees and friends.

The weather can be awful but rarely stops a performance except on one occasion when it was halted half way through due to a violent thunderstorm. Amongst Sandy’s adventures was an occasion during a performance of Hay Fever when it rained so hard the toast on a plate was floating. Her final appearance was in 2004 in The Owl and the Pussycat, when, in costume, she decided she was really too old to clamber up and down rocks.

Sandy still goes down in June July and August to see the Friday night performances. Rowena’s legacy is carried on with Proms at the Minack in September whilst in the winter months the famous Fishermans’ Friend Singers perform.A continuing legacy is that of Cambridge University students performing Gilbert and Sullivan music.

In conclusion, Sandy told us of an occasion, when by this time she found herself being a single parent and finding it difficult to pay for accommodation for herself and her daughter to attend the Minack, having talked to Jacky Isles, Jacky and her husband paid the rent of her bungalow. This kindness,said Sandy illustrates  the magic and wonderful atmosphere of being involved with and associated with the Magic of Minack.

Verity Linnett thanked Sandy, saying how much she had enjoyed both sections of the talk. Sandy had set up a very comprehensive picture display of the history of Minack which we were able to browse whilst Sandy judge the competition A Theatre Programme which was won by Denise Larson second Diane Mitchell with Mary Burt’s programme which was for a Strode Theatre production featuring her granddaughter, Hannah, third. The Flower of the Month winner was Trish Cox with snowdrops.

Next month’s speaker is Judith Stewart subject, Tapping Therapy with the competition for a pillbox.

Wendy Edwards.

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