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I write in regard to John Manning’s ‘review’ (October 12) of the Harpenden Light Operatic Society’s recent production of Sister Act at the Public Halls (pictured).
We were delighted that this was probably their most successful production in recent years and was excellently cast, choreographed and performed by all the actors and musicians alike. I’m genuinely pleased that John Manning recognised that.
But of course the Herts Ad couldn’t resist yet another dig at the Halls and between him and Madeleine Burton their reviews are sounding very much like a broken record.
Quite how he came to the conclusion that Lisa Fitzgerald’s great acting skills suffered badly as a result of our sound system is anyone’s guess. But then he went on to say that the sound-balance was first class. So which is it?
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I’d like to think that John Manning knew the faintest idea of what he was talking about but in his haste to impart disparagement upon us, I fear he does not. So, let me explain in layman’s terms so we are perfectly clear on this matter: over the past year or so the Halls has invested several thousands of pounds installing a new PA (sound system) and mixing desk, so I am very satisfied we are extremely well equipped to deal with most theatre style performances. I say most because many large-scale live performances invariably require the hire of additional equipment, as was the case here, to ensure there is sufficient speaker coverage and/or microphones for the show to function. So, in point of fact very little of our own sound equipment was used in this production at all.
What John Manning is failing to recognise here is the fact that the fault lies not with the sound system but in the design of the building itself.
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It was not designed as a theatre, or a concert hall, or a live music venue, or a cinema when it was built in 1938.
Consequently the acoustics for any kind of amplified performance are notoriously difficult to work around, mainly because the ceiling is so high the sound bounces all around the walls and is not absorbed, and nothing has been invested in the building since then to combat that.
It therefore takes a very skilled technician to overcome or mitigate that problem. I am not suggesting that we get it right every time, and I am pleased to say that the Light Operatic Society’s sound crew are extremely competent in their work, although John would be most welcome to come down for their next production if he thinks he can do a better job of it.
Lastly, there is also an implication that it was the Public Halls’ decision to put the orchestra out of sight and in the under-stage room to perform. Again, this demonstrates a poor level of intelligence by John who may be interested to know that we have no creative input into the Light Operatic Society productions whatsoever.
This was entirely their decision and as it happens was a well thought out solution to enable a stage extension to be built over the orchestra pit and create a larger depth of performance space.
So, in future please get your facts right before making ill-informed comments or better still, if you haven’t got anything intelligent to say, best not to say it at all. GLENN POVEY
General Manager, Harpenden Public Halls
I sympathise with those who really need good affordable housing in an area where there is little. Unfortunately we are in this situation because politicians fail to agree on a proper housing and transport strategy. We have people living rough or in tents in fields as a result.
I have to waste my professional time fighting off spurious appeals for hundreds of new ‘luxury’ homes on protected wildflower meadows and historic sites sporting very rare butterflies, stags and kites, etc; whilst making a case for better transport in a city where public transport has been cut whilst use is actually increasing in the only place in the county?
So come on and allocate the right areas for affordable house building on brown land and unused sites, and look at faster MMC building methods.
It is possible to build fast erection demountable attractive modern affordable homes. I have seen one erected in the back garden of a rambling house by parents of kids who could simply not afford their own place. Otherwise we will talking about this in 10 years time when it’s damaging our city?
PAUL SPELZINI Potters Bar and St Albans Transport User Group, Parkland Drive, St Albans
Over the past few years several services have been removed from St Albans City Hospital (SACH). Some perhaps for good reasons, for example to treat acute conditions such as heart attacks and strokes at hospitals which had specialist facilities and staff. Some perhaps for less good reasons, eg. to save money by closing wards in which patients recovered from acute surgery performed elsewhere.
I imagine most patients and citizens in St Albans, Harpenden and district want that down-sizing to stop. They want to keep their own local hospital.
The West Herts Hospitals Trust, which runs SACH, plans to stop downsizing SACH.
It plans to re-develop SACH’s buildings to continue to provide planned day surgery, antenatal and community midwifery, outpatient and diagnostic services, and clinical support including X-ray, ultrasound, mammography and blood and specimen collection.
Not only that. The Trust has plans to reverse the downsizing.
It aspires to provide new buildings and facilities to develop SACHS as a centre for cancer care and the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (which works closely with the Trust) is investigating upgrading our Minor Injuries Unit into an Urgent Treatment Centre.
I hope that every patient and every citizen in St Albans, Harpenden and district will welcome and support these plans. They give us a chance of securing the future of what many people have campaigned for over the years - our own local hospital in St Albans.
Chair. St Albans and Harpenden Patient Group
Some of you may recognise me. On previous occasions I have written appealing to the St Albans and Welwyn readership for help with the Riding for Disabled stables in Digswell place.
This charity has been a great passion of mine for the last seven years. Unfortunately this year I have had to step down as a volunteer due to personal reasons. My departure made me realise just how vulnerable all charities are without the support of a steady stream of willing volunteers. So with this thought imbedded in my mind I had to take my fingers to the keyboard and appeal once again to anyone out there who feels they could spare a few hours a week to help others.
Riding for Disabled is a voluntarily run riding stable for adults and children with most kinds of disabilities. For those of you out there who don’t know what benefits riding can give person here are just a few; a holistic therapy for any disability; physiological advantages of exercise in the open air; increased self confidence from overcoming fear; independence from taking responsibility for the horse’s action; the opportunity to meet and socialise with the voluntary helpers.
You don’t have to be a horsey person as training is given - although all horsy people would be welcome. You just need to be enthusiastic about helping other be willing to listen and learn and have a love for the outdoors.
I personally found that I benefited from being outside, working with other amazing people who I never would have met in my normal day to day life and I just happen to love horses so for me it was a win win situation. It truly broke my heart to have to give it up and I hope to return to it one day soon.
Meanwhile if any of this letter has touched you please check out the website and pop in for a chat with the Stable manageress or any of the volunteers I’m sure you won’t regret it: www.digswellplacerda.org.uk/
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Willoughby Road, Harpenden
Clarence Park, October 7, St Albans City vs Bath City: Chant from home fans: “Our cathedral’s bigger than your cathedral!”
Doesn’t trip off the tongue precisely but at least it’s true, mildly amusing and surely not offensive to anyone.
October 14, St Albans City vs Borehamwood: Chants from home fans (the same people as the previous week?) directed with scary raised arms and jabbing fingers at away fans: “You’re scum and you know you are.”
Substitute ‘morons’, ‘mutants’ and similar for ‘scum’. Add “Have you ever read a book?” and puzzlingly, “We’re the pride of Hertfordshire.”
Have the chanters never heard of Watford, Stevenage and, er, yes Borehamwood? – all in the county, all at considerably higher levels of football than St Albans.
Sorry to our visitors! Nothing personal!
Speaking of pride, howling mindless insults is not a thing of pride, neither is the politically dubious gesticulation; they’re generally offensive and embarrassing for those of us who are sure that away fans are not moronic, mutant scum.
Come on, lads (there may have been chanting women but I didn’t see any) give us something to be proud of.
Why not a chant in Latin? I’m sure there’s a local scholar who would oblige. That might get a laugh.
Our team is doing exceptionally well this season – playing some high quality football “on the carpet Barcelona style” – top of the league no less. The pride of the city.
Come on you Saints! NAME & ADDRESS SUPPLIED