the GMG English Drama Group
Hans-Dieter Scholz, StD
Latest productions and plans
After twenty-two years of 34 successful productions, the GMG English Drama Group the fringe (founded 1996) is now an established group within the Bayreuth amateur theatres and in its 23nd glorious year.
Every year, the group presents a new long play by an English-speaking author in the weeks immediately before Easter. It is the only secondary school English Drama Group in Bavaria that does so annually and which has taken its productions elsewhere, too, e.g. the Willstätter-Gymnasium in Nürnberg, the MGF in Kulmbach, and the Helene-Lange-Gymnasium in Fürth. Since 2006, the fringe has participated regularly in the “Bayreuther Schultheatertage”.
The hard work and many hours of rehearsal (frequently more than 150 hours of rehearsal) have been rewarded by growing numbers of spectators and donations by sponsors. The audiences have grown from 450 spectators in 1997 to around 1,100 people in Bayreuth alone. Since our traditional venue (Kleines Haus der Stadthalle) was closed and we moved to the Tagungszentrum der Universität, audiences have dropped somewhat, but are still above 700.
Sponsors that support the group’s work have been many local businesses, especially Möbel Becher and Möbel Hertel in Bayreuth, but we also owe a lot to those who regularly advertise in our printed programmes and the students’ parents – individually and in the form of the Elternbeirat. Thank you.
Since 2004, workshop training days have become a regular feature of our group nearly every autumn. We usually spend three days together, rehearsing and getting to know each other better. We spent time in Burg an der Wupper, Forchheim, Bamberg and (in 2014) in Regensburg. Thanks to the support by the Kulturamt der Stadt Bayreuth, we are also able to work together with acting trainers like Ms. Zeitz (Leipzig) and our regular choreographer, Kay Uwe Scholz (Bamberg).
During the Schultheatertage 2016, director Hans-Dieter Scholz was awarded the “Kulturpreis der Stadt Bayreuth” for his continued high quality theatre work with young people, which is a great honour and an award for the whole group. In 2017, he was nominated for the “Deutscher Engagementpreis”.
In 2017, the group had to move performance space because of renovations work at the Stadthalle. The group is now continuing its work at the former Kolpingsaal next to the Stadtbad, a hall which is now Tagungssaal der Universität and which belongs a most helpful Studentenwerk Oberfranken. In 2019, we will play there again and hope to attract an again larger audience to this new venue then.
The fringe would like to thank all their spectators and guests for their coming and their continued support. We hope we can go on providing you with good quality entertainment. We aim to please.
Organising the work of the English Drama Group – the assistents
It is true that a director has all the responsibility – especially in a school drama group, and that responsibility can be somethings pressing. But the decisions in the English Drama Group are not reached in a dictatorial manner. Certainly the director, i.e. I, has the final word, and sometimes the decisions are not unanimous, but there has always been a group of actors who take over some responsibility by advising, checking, discussing, putting forward ideas, organising, mediating, and transmitting. Every new idea the director has, first goes to this team – using them like a wall at which he throws new ideas like balls that bounce off. All new ideas are tested on them – they react to them, accept them, ask for alterations, offer compromises – before the ideas are introduced to the rest of the group.
Sometimes there are problems, this must be admitted. Some assistents can’t deal with the responsibilities because they are still young. There is gossip and there are misunderstandings. As long as ideas are circulated within this team, they are not yet decisions, but some people don’t understand the difference and start telling other people. Other members of the team thought these open discussions were kind of secret court-martials and created a “toxic atmosphere”. Of course, there must be respect for everyone, and of course everyone must be able to speak his/her mind without being afraid of reactions. So these decision making processes can’t be spread out in public. And of course a director needs a forum to ventilate his ideas if he does not want to become a lonesome wolf who is blind to new ideas and developments.
These team members who hold a special place in the whole group for the director, have for practicality been divided into director’s assistents, production assistents, stage managers, stage designers, and treasurers. Sometimes, in the history of our group, the functions have overlapped, and some have developed only recently. But my thanks as a director go to all those who contributed even more than all the others to the success of the fringe, and this is a contribution to them. In the following, you will be introduced to some of those people – only some because over the past 21 years many many people have contributed here.
The people who control the money are always very important. In 19 years, the group has now had nine treasurers: Martin Reichinger (1997-98), Christian Reichinger (1998-2001), Susanne Ruch (2001-2004), Lena Schmidt (2004-2006), Marlene Münzel (2006-2009), Lilly Fleischmann (2009-2010), Jasmin Rahimy (2010-2013), Sophie Jungermayr (2013-2014), Vinzent Meister (2014-2016), and at the moment Vanessa Pham.
*The stage managers*
From its second year of production, the fringe has always had a stage manager who is responsible for the props, for the cleaning up and away, for the preparation of the stage, transportation, and the general happiness of all the actors. Many of them went on to be assistents. In 2017, Franka Geyer and Cara Marino take over the position.
*The production assistents*
Rather a new invention, it is the production assistent’s task to take over where the assistents leave. During the rehearsals, the assistents assist the director, but when the final dress rehearsals are going on, they don’t have any time for this any more. In steps the production assistent who accompanies the director and takes notes of everything he says. Since 2016, Eleanor Frost has proved invaluable in this position.
*The stage designers*
Stage designers and technicians are most important for any production, and our stage designs have grown more creative and extravagant by the year, also more costly. Several of the designs were so-called Facharbeiten, like the ones
by Valentin Bräunlein for The Rivals in 1998
by Theresa Greim for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2000
by Nadine Friedrich for An Ideal Husband in 2005
by Andreas Romeike for The New Woman in 2007.
A team of Olga Bartuli, Jacqueline Fulger, Rebekka Jesch, and Moritz Hacker designed and built the fabulous set for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2008, with Moritz Hacker doing nearly all the woodwork. In 2009, he proved indispensable again, building two coffins for Dracula and organising light, sound, and fog. In 2010, he built the complete stage set – a turntable of 5m in diametre, with a dividing wall on top of it. In 2011, he wanted to do something with light – the director inspired him to create a changeable stage set by using to big beamers and a high door that could be turned. In 2012 and 2013, the undefatigable Hanna Prykhodzka designed dances, posters and the set – building a stairway and a 4 m long bar in wood.
In 2014/14 Marco Jantos and Matthias Lauterbach organized light and sound, edited the programme, and built a smaller turntable with stairs and doors and side walls that were over three metres high. In 2017, Marco installed a lot of extra lighting for the new venue, and he built an extra platform. Without his contribution, the play would have been nearly invisible.
Thank you all!
They are the most important people in the team. They help the director in any necessary manner, especially by sacrificing a lot of time and brainwork. They are sometimes like sheepdogs trying to keep the herd together, and sometimes they really take over parts of the directing work, e.g. by directing some vocal training, or leading rehearsals, if the director is absent. In the following, there is a hopefully complete list of the assistents up to now:
Constanze Fehske, Marion Müller, Katharina Babenko, Katharina Beiergrößlein, Theresa Greim, Larisa Ring, Nadine Friedrich, Irina Medowaja, May Brümmer, Katharina Lopatin.
Katharina Lopatin, Kira Sesselmann, Romina Heinrich, Anne Eisenhuth, Jana Pittel, Marlene Münzel, Bettina Wagner, Alina Wanitzek, Peter Tscheperkow, Nick Hagemann, Hanna Prichodko, Karolina Panow, Jasmin Rahimy, Antonia Schimmöller, Sophie Jungermayr, Elisabeth Scholz, Jacqueline Reißenweber, Frederike Dobelke, Lukas Kollböck
2015/2016 Elisabeth Scholz, Frederike Dobelke, Lukas Kollböck, Lisa Gräbner
2016/2017 Elisabeth Scholz, Isabelle Catanese
2017/2018 Isabella Catanese, Sylvia Giesa
Hans-Dieter Scholz (born 1965) teaches English, History, and Social Sciences. He went to school in nearby Bamberg, where he also went to university to study English and History. While at university, he joined the university English Drama Group under Michael Claridge – a lasting influence, just like the dancing school influence due to Scholz’s personal hobby. 1989/1990, he was foreign language assistent at Queensmead School and Bishop Luffa School in the London Borough of Hillingdon, where he first came in contact with school drama classes. During his teacher training, he spent time in Nürnberg, Immenstadt and Ansbach, before he arrived at the Graf-Münster-Gymnasium in 1994. In 1996, students from a year 10 – class pressured him to try out an English Drama Group, which then formed as an informal AG (Arbeitsgemeinschaft – work group) of already 18 members. Since then, the English Drama Group, which took the name of “the fringe” in 1997, has flourished and developed. In 2016, the director was awarded the Kulturpreis der Stadt Bayreuth for the work with this drama group. We will try to continue the good work.