27th December 2017
2017 has been a tremendous year for us here at Mad Apple Collective. With no events or meetings now until January 2018, it’s a good time for me to reflect on what we’ve achieved and what we’ve learnt. More importantly, it’s the right time to say a massive thank you to everyone involved with Mad Apple and everyone who has supported us this year.
A busy year
Our year started in earnest from the get go, with our Reunion residency at ACANTEEN in February. We enjoyed 4 of a what would go on to be 9 brand-new, never seen before plays in 2017. This was followed relatively swiftly by our site-specific offering, Beyond Still Waters, at Threadneedle House. What we didn’t know at the time was that this would be the absolute last time that the space could be used for rehearsal or performance; it was closed and mothballed, awaiting sale, by the winter of this year. In a first for us as a company, we hit the road in September, taking our Awkward Reunions production to a fringe festival. It was a ‘best of’ from our first two ACANTEEN residencies, combining the popular Intelligent Love with Friendzoned. Hopfest Fringe in Kent was the destination, and we enjoyed playing to a small (but appreciative) audience in what would be quite unique circumstances. Performance wise, our year ended in October with our most recent ACANTEEN residency, The Locked Room.
Alongside this, we took the opportunity in 2017 to begin some additional projects. Le Nouvel Ensemble began in early autumn, with positive results in our first tentative steps to creating a long-term facility for new writers to test work out. Finally we enjoyed our first MAC Social in October at what has become our spiritual home, ACANTEEN.
All in all, and by any theatre company’s standards, it has been a busy year. All of this work does not come without lessons; as with all organisations there are things we did well and things we could have done better. There are things I am proud that we achieved, and things that have caused me to think again.
There has been a lot to be proud of this year. We have worked hard to create predominantly good, often powerful pieces of theatre. We have engaged audiences and creatives, given a platform for new voices to be heard and taken audiences into spaces which they have never been before. All of this has been achieved on the slimmest of shoestring budgets, and with the significant efforts and endeavours of a relatively small group of people who are unpaid and juggling other commitments at the same time. Everyone involved should be very proud of turning nothing into something, and with often tremendous results.
The lessons learnt for us stem from the need to offer more support to our creatives, and do more to create a focussed environment for our audiences. I feel that we have not always offered the right support to our Directors, and by default therefore their teams. That is something being remedied with immediate effect, and we are happy that future Directors will enjoy far greater support.
We remain committed to ensuring that Le Nouvel Ensemble, and all of our events, take place in an accessible location. While we never intend to take decisions that have adverse effects, where they do happen we work hard to rectify them as soon as possible. We are in almost constant contact with venues to explore avenues for co-working and partnership, and I am happy that at the close of this successful year for us, we are close to achieving this goal.
Audiences, when presented with a piece of theatre, need to be given the right space in which to focus their attention. It is sometimes a fact that in the spaces we operate, that is more challenging than we would like. We have developed some ideas on improving acoustic shielding in ACANTEEN, and hope that this will make some improvement on external noise intruding on performances.
Firstly a massive thank you Laura Hill and Ian Willingham, who along with me make up the Mad Apple Management Team. They have worked tirelessly to develop Mad Apple with me this year, and been second-to-none as a source of advice, ideas and enthusiasm. They are not only my right hand people, but my left hand people, feet people and – in fairness – my brain people.
Emma Odell of ACANTEEN continues to be a huge supporter of Mad Apple, and without her support and that of her team at ACANTEEN, we would not be where we are today. Their flexibility, friendliness and trust have helped us grow and develop and Emma and her team have our thanks for their tireless work.
Daniel Ayres of Cafe Rouge, Chelmsford has had the faith and vision to work with us on developing Le Nouvel Ensemble, and allowed us free use of their space. Without his support, that project would never have got off the ground and we wouldn’t be in the advanced development phase that we are.
Mick McDonagh of High Chelmer Shopping Centre remains a committed arts lover and friend of Mad Apple. His encouragement and support give us endless opportunities to spread the word and develop; make no mistake, he is a cornerstone of arts in Chelmsford.
Last but not least, a big thank you to everyone who has worked with us this year. We could not do anything without the support of our audiences, the hard work of our creatives and writers or the belief from the venues that work with us. My sincere thanks to all of you for your time, sacrifice and efforts.
I think that we can all be proud of what has been a truly successful year, and we can look forward to 2018 being even more successful, rewarding and fun.
I wish you all a successful, prosperous and happy 2018.