Ok. Here we go. Guild Report 2011.

Firstly, I am aware that there will be many people wondering what the dickens (yes, yes I said dickens) I am actually going to write about, seeing as most of the night I was surgically attached to my iPhone. I care not for their dubiety, for I am a multitasking wonder creature and can simultaneously text/play scrabble/listen/applaud all at the same Guildy-good time. So there. This article will indeed be a literary Kiss of the Superwoman.

See what I did there? Brilliant.

Down to business.

When Guilds 2011 was announced, we were bombarded with the transformer-esque image of Guildy (that giant blindfolded mask-face on all your programs) announcing it was to be the TWENTY FIFTH SILVER JUBILEE Bruce Awards for Excellence. Now, I would like to challenge two particulars within that title.

Firstly, the word Jubilee (as the Oxford Dictionary for English tells me) has it’s origins in a Hebrew word which refers to the ‘ram’s horn trumpet’ sounded to herald a Jubilee. Now, as I wasn’t witness to any ram-horn trumpets during the night's festivities, it indicated to me that Guildy lied to us all. Secondly, seeing as no-one awarded me anything for being excellent (which, in all sense of the word, I am), I was quite unsure as to whether this description was at all appropriate. I now feel the correct heading should have been, “Twenty Fifth Silver Non-Ram’s Horn Jubilee Bruce Awards for Other People who Sang and Danced Quite Well”. There. Much more fitting.

Those of you less concerned with the title of the evening perhaps want me to get on with other details? Yes, yes, I’m on it. Relax.

The venue was delightful. Frankston Arts Centre is always a H1 for the Guilds. My only dispute, and also that of most others seated in the stratosphere of the dress circle, was the severe lack of air conditioned comfort. By 9.13pm both my false eyelashes had wilted toward my cheekbones, and I was sure I saw ladies dripping fake tan from the chin down. Note to the maintenance dudes at FAC for next time … crank up the breeze.

Moving on to more artistic observations for the night, the music was lovely. Now, I don’t know Bev Woodford, but I liked what she gave us. Her orchestra was ripping out those MT tunes with energy, enthusiasm and some rhythmic detail to boot. I was particularly a fan of the Winners-at-Guildness Megamix which opened the night. All past twenty-five winning shows were celebrated in instrumental glory. It was like surprise karaoke for the audience … and who doesn’t love a sing and dance-along?

Direction for the night deserves an extra round of applause. It is not easy to make the famously long Guild awards a snappy night, and if there’s anything particular I want to commend Brad Fischer and Nathan Firmin on, it is the snappiness with which they executed it. On, off, start, end, move, move, move, on, off, clap, end. The battle plan was flawless. Direction success.

I shall now tentatively bring up the contentious issue of performances.

In all honesty, I am as far detached as possible from understanding how performances are chosen, so forgive my naivety, but I feel I need to be brutal. Some of the choices didn’t. make. sense.

We started with two complete showstoppers, and then ended with two (although wonderful) severely out of context pieces. I’m sure there are reasons explaining this, but I find it very difficult to believe that they were the only options available, even from the shows they were chosen (surely there is someone named Floyd in the production Floyd Collins . . why did he not sing?). Also, and maybe it’s because I have the attention span of a goldfish at the best of times, but I was expecting some razzle dazzle to end my night on. I got reporters coats and a shopkeeper. Had it been Velma Kelly with her dance troupe wearing the reporter coats and singing about being a shopkeeper, things would have gone down very differently. Alas, they did not. Good pieces, wrong placement.

Issues aside, all the numbers were performed really well. Loved me some Von Trapps and was happy to be met by a bit of the ol’ Bernstein. Although (and it must be mentioned), best performance of the night surely goes to TP Editor-Incredible Ian Nisbet, who was performing Operation Guild Storm by tweeting, photographing, updating and hashtagging wildly from the corner of the dress circle – and all for your benefit, theatrepeeps. Solid performance.

Foyer attendance this year was commendable. And I don’t mean those of you who swanned around the foy-ay pre and post show. I mean those of you who took an extended toilet break to admire the surrounds. And by surrounds I mean the bar menu. The last time (2009?) I was at the Frankston Guilds bar, when I asked for ‘scotch and dry’ I got some mineral water and a drop of bourbon. This year, when I asked for Gin and Tonic, I actually got Gin and Tonic. Hats off to the girl who managed to execute such an order. You have proven your ancestors wrong. Other off-book (foyer) highlights included the lovely Nicholas Kong of Fab Nobs launching a glass into the air and scrambling to recover it’s shattered remains, the spread of chicken sandwiches available before the ceremony concluded (delicious), the lift which did not, in fact, take me to the ‘second floor’, but rather, deposited me in the empty car-park below the building, and the steaming smoke machine hiding peculiarly in the corner, emitting smoke over a platter of chicken sandwiches. Did anyone else see that? Bizarre.

Back inside, the speeches were prompt and pleasant, envelopes were opened and large glass blocks were handed out with gusto … which brings me to one of the perplexities of the evening; the four ties. Tied were best production, best direction, best junior performer in an open production and (with a three way tie) best junior male performer in a leading role. Now, in my unashamed opinion, multiple award-ties belong in pie eating contests and high school swimming carnivals. I’ll accept one, maybe two. Why on earth did we get four?! And a three way tie? Methinks it may have had less to do with the inability to find a clear winner, and more to do with someone ordering one too many guilds and losing the receipt.

But really, jokes aside, I’m just a bitter old soul who lost her free drink ticket. So, in all honesty, congrats to those talented thespians who won. I don’t mean to detract from your sweat, blood and tears. Kudos.

It has now come to that point in the guild report where I get to mention my most favourite part of the night. The post guilds buffet.

Catering was generous, and the fare was pleasing, with my clear favourites being the previously mentioned chicken sandwiches and those little pies with the poppy seeds on top. However, after Guilds Catering 2010, where there were rolling hills of yum cha items, sushi platters and quiches galore, it is now very difficult to impress this buffet princess. Those in charge of organising 2012 might like to consider a chocolate fountain or some prawn cocktails. My email is [email protected] and I am happy to discuss menu adjustments.

It was after the platters were demolished by the hungry crowd, and the champagne started to reach room temperature, that we all packed ourselves into any mode of transport available and headed toward after-party town.

Held in a venue likened to that of a ‘castle come strip club’ by one of my favourite thespians, the AP was bangin’ … until the bar told me there was no tequila left and the light fitting above my head decided I needed a 2am shower and rained on me (yes, there it is, the water-feature joke you were all waiting for). Aside from that,  everyone seemed to be ripping it up in theatre people land and I’m sure we’ll all be seeing evidence of this in many profile shots over the coming months. Stellar job, TP. 

In conclusion, it was a Guildy good end to another theatrical year and I want to extend my personal thanks to everyone and anyone who contributes to making this night happen every first (this year second) weekend in December.

Oh, and congrats to all the winners. You guys were great.