Meet Rod Quantock

A whole raft of events for Sustainable Living Week (26 May–8 June) started in Whitehorse with a free evening of laughs from award-winning Australian comedian Rod Quantock OAM and his sustainability-themed show The Last Tim Tam.

Rod is known for his thought-provoking standup comedy and the ability to use laughter to focus a spotlight on the political issues. The Last Tim Tam takes a look at climate change and sustainability, subjects Rod is passionate about, has researched extensively and has spoken about in performances for the past decade. In a hilarious and thought provoking way he sets out to establish where we are, where we are going and what we can do when we get there.

Chris Gray caught up with Rod to probe the mind behind the comedy and found that, while quietly despairing of the future, he was passionate about influencing it positively. With regard to climate change, Rod declares

“We’ve missed the boat by 20 or 30 years on this issue, and the boat’s not coming back. Around these issues, there’s no federal government policy worth talking about; local governments are the most active in delivering sustainability to people. Ultimately that’s the way it has to be; it’s all going to be local in the future. There’ll be local communities living within their own footprint or not living at all”.

That’s what Sustainable Living is all about – about modified expectations and practical responses to living – and surviving – into the future. As Rod says about The Last Tim Tam, it’s about what people will miss, combining scientific research and academic collaboration to create a catalogue of what people will and won’t have, where they can and can’t live and what they can and can’t do in 2030.

“I chose 2030 because it’s close enough to be personal and far enough away to plan for. And what we plan for is key. At the moment it’s illegal to create a local area grid, but in the future this will have to happen to keep the power going”.

Rod is serious about the need to reimagine the future. He declares that he has read some pretty grim predictions, but even after subjecting those to due analysis he feels it is more than possible that we’ll lose a lot of things we take for granted, like national and international sporting events which countries aren’t going to be able to afford to host.

“When I go out to give this talk my job is to make it funny – if you can – but what I’d like to do is make people realise that it’s a lot later than they think, and that what they think about now has to change. The future is going to be extremely communal. I’d like to see councils pushing urban gardens; I’d like to see state governments changing legislation so that you can have a local power grid and that you can treat waste water and put it back into the system yourself. “

It’ll be a talk about encouraging people to think realistically, and it’ll be a talk about options. I always ask people to do something in the public sphere about this, whether it’s just writing letters, or volunteering for local environment group activities. And once you start doing those things you meet some really fantastic people. If you put a year into these activities your health improves, your sense of well-being improves, your sense of community improves – in ways that buying a flat plasma screen or buying a bigger car can’t do for you. There are so many benefits to people in living more modestly and sustainably and realistically”.

Rod started performing at university in the Architects Review. He acknowledges that the first things you do are generally autobiographical – even if you pretend they are not. “You can only write about what you know – and when you’re 18 or 19 what you know is pretty much yourself. I never found myself very interesting, but I found things that happened to me interesting. “When I was working with a group there was always some social and political awareness; but when I became a solo comedian I realised that comedy is a tool. You can talk about relationships, the football, getting drunk, or whatever you like – those things never interested me – but what does interest me is basically the things that I see that are wrong with the world. “Comedy is a tool, you can use it to change the world . . . that hasn’t happened! I often tell people I’m just Vera Lynn – I just keep the troops happy . . .”

See our What’s On page for times and location of Rod’s show – ‘The Last Tim Tam’.

Playgroup a “grand” idea

“Anyone remember the second verse?” The cry goes out to the group of grandparents holding hands in a circle with their grand kids. We are ‘doing’ action songs, but are struggling to remember the words of the second verse!

“Yes, yes” someone says and takes the lead while we all follow the actions and dig out the words from deep in our memories. We giggle at our efforts, but are rewarded by delighted looks and smiles of enjoyment on the faces of our grandchildren. We all clap, stomp, nod our heads and turn around together.

The knowledge that our own children “turned out alright in the end” gives us every good reason to believe we can do it all over again, particularly with all the life-time of experience we have had since the first time! The skills, we have learnt also get a second airing.

At story time we leave the reading to the ex-kindergarten teacher who, after some trial and error, is by far the best of us, and who still dearly loves to exercise her old, very hard won skills. The years of music practice of one of our ‘grands’ comes to the fore in keeping us in tune when singing together with the children. Everyone’s memory cells are stimulated trying to recall the words of long forgotten nursery rhymes, and our success gives us all hope for our future brain activity!

Finding companionship in our Grandparents Playgroup we feel supported and understood when we commiserate over our sore backs, tired legs, and shared worries over our own, sometimes not so grateful, children. However, meeting other encouraging and supportive grandparents in the same situation is not the only advantage. It is so reassuring to see our grandchildren, playing happily in the age-appropriate facilities at the Community Centre, at Bowen Street.

With the staff there to support and assist us, when needed, we are able to promote the well-being of our young toddlers, encourage them to develop and learn new skills such as climbing, ball throwing, digging and most of all sharing and taking turns. All at the same time that we are able to relax, reflect and support each other while having fun.

Recently a young mother “sat in” for her own mother. She said she’d enjoyed being with the “older mums” and that she learnt a lot from them and loved participating in the singing and dancing; she particularly enjoyed learning to “be in the moment” with her young daughter.

Full-time care places for toddlers and pre-school children are both rare and very expensive in Melbourne. Many “grands” have taken on the care of grandchildren for the sake of their own children’s careers or their difficult financial situations. As parents we have worked hard to enable our own children to get ahead in their lives, and we are prepared to go on doing all we can to assist them. Besides, the second time around is so much more fun!

Art by students of Camberwell South Primary School

The children from Camberwell South Primary School have been working very hard this year to produce some fantastic art work. The work will be on display at the Hawthorn Town Hall gallery space from August 1 to 27.

The work of Preps through to Grade 6 children is on display, providing a great example of the type of art that is happening in primary schools. The children visit the art room once a week for a 50 minute session. Sometimes an art task may take two or three weeks to complete. The children are always very proud of their work. Throughout the year we try to cover all areas of art – drawing, painting, textiles, construction, modelling, printing and appreciation. We often learn about the work of famous artists and use these discussions as a stimulus for our work. The elements of art (line, space, texture, form and shape) are also covered as the children complete their work.

Due to restrictions in the gallery space, only 2D work is on display in this current exhibition. Collages have been completed by the Grade 1 and 2 children. Some reflect holiday happenings and some are based on the work of popular artists, Ken Done and Michael Leunig. The Grade 6 children worked collaboratively interpreting a piece of work by David Hockney, whose recent exhibition at the NGV was studied by the children.

Prep children love to dress up and this was the basis for some lovely paintings showing their favourite costumes. We are sure you will find the Camberwell South Primary School exhibition enjoyable, so please make time to drop in during August.

Mensans making a difference

Some see Mensa as an elitist club for people who want to show off their high IQ, and have no better way to do it. Mensa is a lot more than that. Have you noticed how many programs about intelligence seem to be on TV these days? One of Mensa’s goals is to foster intelligence, and it welcomes the sign of society appreciating the talents of each individual in the use of the most marvellous of human attributes – the brain.

Mensa sees its mission as helping stimulate all people in using as much of their brain as possible. When you think about it, in a smarter world, everybody wins! Mensa is a not-for-profit society, the oldest and most well-known high-IQ society in the world. Its purposes are to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity, encourage research into the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, and to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.

You’ll find all sorts of people in Mensa. But Mensans worldwide have one thing in common: they’re bright. Mensa is an international society with only one criterion for membership: a score on a standardised IQ test higher than that of 98% of the general population.

Mensa offers opportunities to meet people, exchange ideas and make new friends at your intellectual level. Quick minds are welcomed; instant communication and comprehension are the rule rather than the exception. The Mensa network extends beyond Australia, with international gatherings in America, Europe and Asia and a chance to meet fellow Mensans when you travel the world.

Its growth as a worldwide entity can be traced to Victor Serebriakoff (1912-2000), who was born in the slums of East London, the son of a Russian father and a cockney mother. His brains caused trouble early on. ”I was chased home from school every day because I was the kid who put his hand up at every question,” he told The Chicago Tribune in 1986. ”The teachers liked me all right, but the other kids didn’t.”

Victor had to drop out of school after year ten and get a job, as his family was poor and needed his help. He worked as a labourer in a timber processing company. Twenty years later he was the managing director of that company, having developed new ways to process the timber. He also taught himself computer programming. He used to say: “The fact that I didn’t have formal education did not stop me from learning. I read and read as much as I could, until I could talk with anyone about any subject”.

Victor became the president of Mensa in 1982 and he was the one who spread the idea of Mensa around the world, and campaigned for educational improvements for gifted children. Today there are around 134 000 Mensans in 100 countries throughout the world. There are active Mensa organisations in more than 40 countries on every continent except Antarctica.

In the last seven years there has been a massive growth in young members and the organisation has been putting more attention into young people’s programs. There are workshops and presentations for kids and parents to enrich their minds and help them socialise. There are museum visits, walking tours and science groups. In most of these cases the attendance is open to non-members and everybody gets a chance for a stimulating experience.

Nowadays Mensa reaches out by motivating schools to support programs for gifted children and has established funds for scholarships and grants for researches. More information about membership is available on the organisation’s website – www.mensa.org.au

The artists’ muse for 65 years

There’s a reason the Box Hill Art Group has been going strong for 65 years this year. Commencing in 1952, it has serviced its community well, nurturing the talents of thousands of budding artists, as well as stretching the skills of experienced and exhibiting artists along the way.

Its weekly classes cater for watercolour, oil, acrylic, pastel, drawing and mixed media. Then there’s the monthly life drawing sessions, all with tutorage from seasoned award-winning artists who are only too eager to pass on their practical secrets about how to make excellent works of art. But there’s more to it than just making art.

While we know that painting and drawing are enjoyable, satisfying, therapeutic and good for the soul, it also combats social isolation by extending one’s social life, and it helps in the fight against depression and dementia by stretching one’s brain in the art of learning.

Brushtail possum by Rosemary Morgan
Brushtail possum by Rosemary Morgan

Not only does the Box Hill Art Group provide for all styles and competence levels, it also provides opportunities for special workshops; regular painting expeditions to local destinations of note (followed up with social lunches); and the opportunity of exhibiting original art twice each year.

The Group also keeps interested parties abreast of what is going on in the wider art communities. For those who enjoy engaging online, there is a range of information available on the Box Hill Art Group website, as well as on its Facebook and meetup pages. As Helen Harris, Chair of the Whitehorse Council’s Visual  Arts Committee said:

“Whether you’ve just  retired, or simply have  time on your hands,  I cannot recommend  the Box Hill Art Group  highly enough. It’s made  up of really interesting  people from all walks of life who  simply love to paint fabulous pictures.  Some enter their creative art into  community art competitions where  many attract buyers, while others  simply have them framed for their  own walls at home.”

It’s the holistic art experience  which allows new people to try out  a class or two before committing  to a term of lessons by booking  online for only $10 per lesson.  For more information visit www. boxhillartgroup.com.au or call Eric on 0424 775 540.

A site for sore eyes

Original Burwood High School teacher John Griffith joined the school at its temporary site in 1955. He recalls the eager expectation – and the reality – of the first day teachers and students saw their school in its permanent location.

We arrived expectantly at our newly ready school in February 1956, after the previous year’s stay in unlined steel huts beside Ashburton Railway Station. We anticipated that our new school would be ready. The site had been excavated on the south side, while the north side was a steep slippery slope to the valley. The school had been planned to be on the level ground against Burwood Road; but no-one had realised that Burwood Road was to be widened into Burwood Highway. Rather than pay more for a new site, it was decided to move the main building farther north, which required excavating the hillside of the area sloping down to Gardiners Creek.

The buildings were ready; but after heavy rain the excavation embankment was slippery clay and the slope to the north of the school had been churned up by the builders. From Burwood Road it was risky to enter over the slippery mud. A teacher used a builder’s plank to create a narrow walkway into the school. This quickly became slippery with mud and students stood by to watch the teachers enter in the hope of a slip!

Students then entered, taking the chance that no-one would bounce on the plank and unbalance others, causing an inadvertent muddy backslide. (Subsequently the teachers all decided it was desirable to come to school early!) In due course reporters arrived and took photos of the area, the plank and the students. The Minister for Education eventually arrived, but declined the opportunity to brave the slippery board into the school.

The following day a bulldozer arrived and a convoy of trucks came with road fill from farther up Burwood Road. We watched from windows as the bulldozer dug itself inescapably into the mud, and with its motor screaming dug itself even deeper. An even larger bulldozer then arrived, attaching itself to the first one, and in turn dug itself into a pit. It too worked its motor to a noisy climax. Finally a third bulldozer was brought up, stationing itself high on the hillside, and with a heavy chain freed each bulldozer in turn from the sticky clay.

With three bulldozers on hand, the valley was filled and compressed, and topped with a layer of gravel. But in the rush, no-one had thought to plot the sewer line at the base of the valley, or to fit new sewer vents in place. Some time later the school sewer line blocked. But where was the sewer? Extended pits were dug up to 15 feet deep to locate the sewer. It was then decided that it was at the bottom of the former valley; but noone could remember where that was exactly. It took an age to find and repair, during which time the school could not operate, and students got a holiday.

All told, since the extra buildings fitted awkwardly and at considerable expense onto the narrow and unstable site, it probably would have been cheaper to dismantle the school in sections and shift it eastwards to the more expensive vacant site (owned by the Blind Institute) on Station Street.

NOTE
The original students of Burwood High School are having a reunion on Sunday, 2 April. This is only for the first lot of students who went through the school. It will give former students an opportunity reminisce and share stories of their high school days. For further information, please contact Sue Webster (née Cover) on 9885 3235 or via email cover.sue@gmail.com or email Ted Tullberg at etullber@bigpond.net.au

The Highway Gallery for talent

THE City of Monash’s community gallery, The Highway Gallery, is going from strength to strength and, in 2015, celebrated its 25th anniversary with an exhibition of selected works by previous Exhibitors.

The gallery had its germination way back in 1965 when Waverley was something of a cultural desert as far as visual arts were concerned but the formation of the Waverley Arts Society in 1969 heralded the beginning of change. It took a while, but by the early 1980s Waverley Council had established two bodies relevant to the arts: the Art Acquisition Committee (which was allocated funds to acquire art for the City) and Arts Waverley (an advisory body to foster all of the Visual and Performing Arts).

Acting proactively, The Arts Acquisition Committee persuaded Council to assign to them a property acquired due to road widening. This they did, and 14 The Highway Mount Waverley eventually became known as The Highway Gallery. Its goal was to benefit the local arts and wider community. Its first exhibition was on 19 January 1990. Since then the gallery has been the venue for a wide range of exhibitions by artists and community groups. It is operated by the City of Monash and its use is open to groups and individual applicants.

Storybook Yarn Art
Storybook Yarn Art

Over the years, artists and groups exhibiting at the gallery have been provided with professional guidance in curatorial skills, presentation and how to seek sponsorship. The Committee of Management and Exhibitors are forever grateful to the many volunteers who have contributed years of valuable service on their behalf. If you are interested in volunteering with The Highway Gallery, phone 9807 7261 during opening hours (see page 30) or email timing_nza@yahoo.com.au

The gallery very proudly mentions some of Australia’s prominent citizens who have opened past exhibitions: Weary Dunlop, Cathy Freeman, Mirka Mora, Dacre Smyth, Tim Bowden and Lady Southey. Parents, mark your diaries – a must-see exhibition for 2017’s first term holidays is Storybook Yarn Art by school children. Open from 5 to 23 April (Wednesdays to Sundays 12 noon–4pm), it includes a program of workshops and demonstrations. Also, if you have some spare time, check out the Gallery’s very interesting website – there are lots of images for upcoming and past exhibitions. highwaygallery.wordpress.com 

Upcoming Exhibitions at The Highway Gallery
1–19 March Paintings of Australian Landscapes, by Greg Footit
22 Mar–2 April Living Colour, A Peg Widdows Retrospective
5–23 April Storybook Yarn Art, from Longbeach Place, Bayside
25 April–22 May Indonesian Art and Artefacts, Museum of Indonesian Arts
23 May–6 Jun Reconciliation and NAIDOC, a Monash Reconciliation Group presentation

The Highway Gallery Map
The Highway Gallery Map

 

You can find The Highway Gallery adjacent to Mount Waverley Shopping Centre, close to trains, buses and cafés. It is easily accessible and there is ample car parking and disability access. 14 The Highway, Mount Waverley.
Opening hours: Wed–Sun 12noon–4pm.

Cultures can – and do- mix at Louise Multicultural Centre

I spoke to Anna Walker and Klaudia Lozo in the warm offices of the Louise Multicultural Centre in Box Hill. Anna, who has just assumed the role of president, is passionate about her work, as are all those who come together in the organisation – and all are volunteers. She hales from Scotland, and coming to Australia was an eye-opener for her. “People from Malaysia … in Scotland I’d never met any before. Just the diversity of the nature of Australia amazed me, and people cooperate with each other to make it a good place,” she says. “We get a lot out of this, and participants at the centre, they get a lot out of it. Their English improves and I think, more importantly, their confidence improves. They mainly come to learn English, but for instance we also have Mandarin classes – I started to learn Mandarin from one of our tutors. When you learn a language you also learn about the culture.”

“We have the Korean Drumming,” adds Klaudia. “We have Chinese dancing and a Chinese national version of line dancing. Although it is about learning the language, the basis is mainly social. We have had some students coming to us since inception – 34 to 35 odd years.”

Klaudia goes on to describe how people coming to the centre are eager to share each other’s cultures. Recently they had a Moon Festival mid-morning tea. People brought food in to share. “You get different cultures saying ‘Oooh what’s that and how did you make it?’” she says. “And you’ve got Chinese ladies trying to make Greek Spanakopita. One of them was successful, but there was a Greek cake that one of the Chinese ladies tried to make – I think she put in three times the amount of cinnamon required! The Greek lady promised to come over to her place and show her how to do it.”

Much of what happens in classes is contextual learning. For instance, approaching local elections were used as both a tool to teach English and an integration opportunity. Students were taught about the Council and about its responsibilities. Those who came from countries where freedom doesn’t exist have to get used to the notion that it is safe to choose. “If you’ve come as a refugee, you really need to learn that you can have different opinions and you are not going to be castigated because of that,” says Anna.

Both Anna and Klaudia emphasise how much they too have learned from their pupils, giving as an example students who come from China. “We often put the Chinese as one group, but they are so very different. A lady who comes from Beijing has different ways than somebody from Shanghai, and very different to Hong Kong; it is wonderful learning about the variety. You realise that you cannot make people just one group” says Anna. “I think what often impresses me is people from very different cultures, the willingness they’ve had to share with each other. So you will have someone from Egypt who is struggling about something; a student from Japan says ‘Oh I know’, and that sharing sense really becomes a strong bond within the class”.

Occasionally the centre will have students who have difficult home circumstances; Anna recalls one case where a particular family had child issues at school. “The woman in question started to do an English class, and then did volunteer work here in the office, developing skills and confidence so that eventually she was able to stand on her own two feet. We were able to step in and do a one-on-one program with the family to help them build their confidence to work, and also for the child to get assistance. The child progressed beautifully and is now comfortable at school – it is a real success story!”

The Louise Multicultural Centre started through St John’s parish in Mitcham, and out of the local migrant hostel, when the Vietnamese boat people were coming. The need for action was obvious to founder, the late Sister Miriam Boland of the Daughters of Charity order. She asked herself the question “What do these people need?” They needed blankets; they needed toys for the children … Recruiting some of the St John parishioners Sister Miriam helped out wherever they could. It might have been English – trying to help the people to understand what letters meant; driving pregnant women to the Royal Women’s Hospital – anything that was required. Eventually the Parish Priest and the Council got wind of what was going on and a house was allocated so that people could have a place to go. And so it has become the organisation it is today – still 100% voluntary, as a Neighbourhood or Community House and an indispensable part of the community.

Waverley Helpmates celebrate

WAVERLEY Helpmates, a not-for-profit community based Supported Employment & Training Program located in Ashwood is celebrating 30 years of service in 2016.

In October 1986, a group of forward-thinking community members established a new program in Ashwood to employ and support young people with Intellectual Disability. Set up as an alternate employment option to the sheltered workshop model, Waverley Helpmates’ goal was to provide meaningful work beneficial to both community members and young people who required a supportive work environment. From its humble beginnings of ten Helpmates with 50 jobs, Waverley Helpmates has grown to be a thriving organisation of 33 Helpmates and with over 700 customers – meeting and far exceeding its original aims.

The Ashwood location was specifically selected to match the needs of an ageing population with the abilities of young people who were requiring regular work. Although the Ashwood, Mt Waverley & Chadstone areas make up the bulk of Helpmates’ customers, the Helpmates travel far and wide, and also maintain six retirement villages and five schools.

Being a small organisation, Waverley Helpmates provides lots of time for relationships to develop between customers and Helpmates. These friendships are celebrated each year in early December at the Thank You Afternoon Tea. There are no restrictions on who can become a customer, providing they fall within our “catchment” area and will be supportive of the way our program operates.

Occasionally described as an “onion”, (when one layer is removed, another layer will be revealed underneath), there are many facets to the Waverley Helpmates’ program. Literacy, numeracy, work ethic, punctuality, reliability, budgeting and cooking are some of the skills that the Helpmates learn. They also fundraise annually for Reefton CFA and collect blankets and clothes for the Avalon Centre in Malvern, in the part of the program that aims to develop social awareness and community responsibility. An optional holiday is offered to the Helpmates every year, and this year 14 Helpmates and six staff members holidayed for 12 days in Chiang Mai Thailand.

By offering work within the community, several boundaries are being broken down, with both sides being winners. Customers receive a regular, reliable and affordable lawn service and the Helpmates win because they are receiving payment for a valuable and real job being done. Everybody is learning that being a little bit different does not mean you cannot do as well as someone else. Diversity is important, welcomed and encouraged. Empowered by the committee, the staff empower the Helpmates in their work so that the standards are of an excellent quality.

Every person in the world needs essentially the same things – a safe environment, something worthwhile to do, someone to love and be loved by and something to look forward to; for those involved in the Waverley Helpmates’ program, all of these goals are surely being met every day. Please visit our website: Waverley Helpmates

Mad Cat – a joyous beginning

THEATRE is alive and well … which is attested to by the fact that, along with the established companies, new ones are still emerging. And one of these is Mad Cat Theatre Company. Mad Cat (Music and Dance, Comedy and Theatre) springs from the St Dunstan’s Rep Circle; under which umbrella Mad Cat’s first two productions, in 2014 and 2015, were staged.

The enthusiasm of Joanna Buddee and Marianne Duane for the company they’ve helped create is infectious as they tell of the plunge into the deep end they experienced as not only writers of the original music and lyrics for 2016’s show Baba Yaga, but also producing, directing, costumes and marketing. Why such a plunge?

“David and Jess (Hewitson-Kerr), who revived St Dunstan’s Rep Circle in 2014, are moving to South Australia,” says Joanna. “So this year Marianne and I took the helm. We co-directed Baba Yaga as well as starring in it – though we didn’t cast ourselves!

Vasilisa is captured by some evil sprites during Baba Yaga
Vasilisa in Baba Yaga

“With this production we decided to take it to the next level – to change the name and also the venue. The quality of our shows just keeps improving. The last three shows have all been original scripts. David was the playwright of those and then Marianne and I wrote the music to Baba Yaga. We had an extremely talented cast of 20 in Baba Yaga, the majority from the Boroondara area – especially Hartwell Primary School. We performed at Kew Renaissance Theatre, which is part of Kew High School. Four hundred and fifty people came to see Baba Yaga and they loved it! We feel exceptionally proud”.

 

Anyone who has been in a play knows that, even in the best-run productions, things go wrong. Joanna has an example to share:

“The worst mistake was something I did. I had my song – and it was opening night – and it was so well received I was just in shock at the applause. I got off stage in a bit of a daze and then went to the dressing room and I’m like ‘Oh my gosh! That was amazing!’ Then I stopped for a minute because I knew I had a quick change as I was going from my main character, Dunyasha, to become a sprite. ‘Quick,’ I said to myself. ‘Pull it together. You’ve got a quick change’. “So I got dressed as a sprite; then one of the other actors came in and she went ‘aren’t you meant to be on stage now as Dunyasha?’ I (swore!) and flung the Dunyasha cloak over the sprite costume. I had no shoes on, but my skirt was really long. Then I went on like that! It wasn’t my full flamboyant character because I was trying not to show that I didn’t have the right outfit on, but actually no one noticed!”

Marianne remembers another story:

“We also had a major change the night before the opening. We didn’t realise that a costume change was actually too difficult. The witch, Baba Yaga, had a scene where there is a great big fight, with smoke and special effects and then she disappears, presumably dead, but then shortly afterwards has a big confrontational scene in which she is revealed as (spoiler alert) the herione’s mother. But there was simply not enough time in between the big stand-off and the reveal, so we had to re-write stuff just before Opening Night … in the end we pre-recorded a whole speech and had it coming over the speakers – and it worked better than the original idea!”

Twenty-sixteen was the year of Baba Yaga (though it hasn’t necessarily breathed its last), but already next year is under consideration, with one major production planned, as well as a children’s workshop in the summer holidays under the Mad Cat name. Mad Cat Theatre pride themselves on being inclusive, so anyone interested in being involved either on-stage or off, or in the workshops, are invited to like their facebook page or email them: madcattheatre1@gmail.com