As many in Newcastle will know the question of whether to produce an “edition” of Screamline has been around for some time – ever since the last production to celebrate 100 years of Scouting in 2007.

For those who don’t have any knowledge of the background – Screamline was the Gang Show produced by the Scouts of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle (the joining together of resources of what is now the three districts in that area – you have a badge on your uniform of “The Division” which is the name that was used for this joining. Nowadays the “division” basically runs Kibblestone and a small property portfolio which financially supports Kibblestone. Kibblestone and the property (in Hanley) belong to the three districts together) Screamline was one of the very first Scout Entertainments undertaken after the First Gang Show of Ralph Reader in 1932. The first Screamline was in 1934 and the last in 2007. There have been some 31 productions since 1934.

The arguments for and against can be discussed, but the three District Commissioners (myself, Elizabeth Birch and Jackie Brocklehurst) were tasked to discuss the feasibility of putting a production on in the future. The “report” of the discussion follows:

The three DCs of the Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle area met in May 2012 to discuss whether there was the interest within the three Districts to celebrate 80 years of Scout Shows in North Staffordshire (in effect to commemorate the 1934 production of Screamline) in 2014. It was felt that while there was undoubtedly a degree of interest from those who had a history of being involved in the Screamline’s of the past, it was almost impossible to gauge whether enough interest from the young people of the three districts could be generated.

Any show put on in the name of Screamline (or for that matter in the name of Scouting in North Staffordshire) would have to be:

  • undertaken on a sound financial footing not with the aim of make a profit but it would have to “break even” and not be a potentially damaging drain on financial resources.
  • a reflection of current Scouting values not reflecting Scouting as something fossilised in the past. It would need to fulfil the 1934 tagline of “A Modern Revue”.
  • have the support of enough young people in the three districts within the cast and support teams, as well as the support of enough adults in the three districts.
  • be of a high quality artistically, in keeping with the fine tradition it was celebrating.

It was agreed that this was quite a challenge for the three districts. If Screamline 2014 was to be a successful activity then it was totally appropriate to set clear objectives and timetables in the preparatory stages.

These objectives and timetables were agreed as:

  • A Screamline Executive would need to be set up by the end of 2012 made up of Chair (it was agreed that one of the existing DCs would take on this role); Treasurer; Secretary; PR Officer; Co-ordinator; Business Manager and representatives from each of the three districts
  • it was strongly suggested this should be maybe three people – one with Scout Show expertise, one “young” person (Explorer/Network age range) and one other.
  • it was also noted that it would be expected that these three people (or others co-opted by them) would visit each section within their district to publicise and promote the activity.a
  • all three DCs would have right of attendance at Screamline Executive meetings.
  • An early job for that Executive would be to appoint the non-production team leaders (for example Ticket Secretary; Front-of-House Team leader; Programme co-ordinator; Registrars etc etc).
  • It is usual for a Show Producer to pick his or her own team but in the context of Screamline that person would need to be mindful of the need to have a Production Team with a multi-district flavour to it. A Show Producer would need to be agreed upon and appointed early in 2013 (Easter at the very latest) and they would need to appoint their team with Executive approval by mid-2013.
  • It is expected that Screamline 2014 would be performed in November 2014 and the main rehearsal schedule start in September 2014 (with “get-togethers” and maybe early rehearsals before schools break for summer in May/June 2014).
  • The venue would be up to the Executive,but The Mitchell Centre would be a likely choice.
  • It was noted that this left a very tight “window” of only one year for a Producer to write a show.

To facilitate all of the above, it was agreed that –

  • GSLs and District officers should be sent the contents of this memo and so be made aware of the hopes for Screamline 2014 (by end of June 2012).
  • Reg Bradbury be asked to circulate this memo to those who had expressed their interest in continuing the Screamline name.
  • A general invite be sent to all appointed adults, members of Support Units, Network members and Explorers (where this is practical) asking anybody willing to commit themselves at any level to contact their District Commissioner outlining what they may be willing to undertake. (invite sent by end of July 2012 at the latest and commitments to DCs by October 2012).
  • All Executive positions would be filled by interview of the three Dcs, as would the role of Producer. Subsequent appointments would be filled by interview by Screamline Executive.
  • Should the interest level, at the early stage of recruiting an Executive and  Producer or the later stage of recruiting a cast, be found to be too small then it was conceded that the project would have to be terminated.

The third bullet point above talks of an invite going to “all appointed adults” – I would like you to consider this to be that invite and to ask you to pass the contents of this as widely as you can. Should you be willing to assist in any way with a future production of Screamline then you will need to inform me by October 2012. The three DCs will then discuss whether we have the necessary number of volunteers and start actually appointing an Executive etc.

Steve Broadhurst DC