A year in the life...

Posted on: 12 Sep 2018 by Neil Gywnne, Chair of RAODS, Plaza Theatre

Many of you readers out there may have heard the notorious tale of how a garden shed got itself to top of the pile in terms of London restaurants – even though it wasn’t actually a restaurant. It was a shed. So it is fair to say that ‘customer review’ sites – like Trip Advisor – can be open to a certain amount of manipulation. Nonetheless, I am delighted to be able to say that I am writing to you as Chair of the top attraction (on Trip Advisor) in and around Romsey – namely the Plaza Theatre.

Which will surprise many of you (it surprised us, to be honest). We are above Paulton’s Park/Peppa Pig World, and Romsey Abbey, to name but two. How come?

Well, all we did was spend some time asking those people who had recently bought tickets for shows at the Plaza, to comment on Trip Advisor after they had been. And it turns out that, if people take the time to leave a comment, then it seems that they don’t just like us. They really like us. Which is great. But given that – in any one year – 80% of the adult population will not have gone to “the theatre” at all, I think I should say a bit more about what it is that we do. And as September is the month of our Annual General Meeting, I just happen to have all the facts to hand….

In the last year we have provided Romsey with 89 performances of plays, musicals, pantomimes, tribute bands, choirs, silver bands, jazz bands, magicians, comedians and ‘an evening with’ our patron – Mark McGann – complete with showing of the multi-award winning short film he wrote and directed. We have also made the theatre available to numerous paranormal societies, various local societies for their AGMs / trophy nights etc., first aid training, The Performance Academy (who provide workshops in the school holidays for youth interested in performance), and Green Buttercup (who provide craft classes for dementia sufferers and their carers). Plus invites to local good causes to come to one of our Invited Audience nights where the audiences see a show for a couple of quid (just enough to cover copyright costs). And spreading the good name of Romsey down to Cornwall by performing at the world famous Minack Theatre.

In total, well in excess of 12,000 times an individual has visited the Plaza for one of the above reasons, in the course of the last 12 months.

The stats on who gets this done are very simple. A handful of contracted services (graphics design and printing, cleaning, building work, auditors). Plus just over 300 volunteers. And not a single employee. Which is remarkable. It shows what can be achieved if enough people are passionate about something.

Not that it is always easy, and not that we are complacent. Plans are always underway on how we can improve. So if you have thought of taking a look – but never quite managed it yet – please do think again!

Neil Gywnne