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2000 Annual Meeting Report:
All-of-us Express Children's Theatre

11th Season: Meeting Our Major Goals

During an all-day "brainstorming" meeting held in June 1996 the members of the company identified six goals:

1. A paid staff
2. Improved facilities
3. Financial solvency / endowment / good cash flow
4. Name recognition
5. Fundraising success
6. More opportunities for more people

We are making good progress in meeting these goals!

The focus for next year will be increasing the fees paid to the people who plan and do instruction (Director, Costumer, Set Designer, Technical Coordinator) and if folks are generous, making a beginning toward paid secretarial help.

We have established an endowment and raised money to pay Evelyn a salary for a couple of years. Now we need success with major fundraising. We're working on this.

The Cedar Park space has enabled us to grow, but we rent on a month-to-month basis and are responsible for almost all maintenance costs. Since we moved in we've had to replace the water heater and two of the three furnaces, plus many smaller items (the doors are next). This plus the $500/month we pay in rent is a big chunk of our operating costs. We are still looking for a more permanent home!

12th and 13th Seasons

The lineup for our 12th season is: Little Mermaid, Gareth the Gentle Gargoyle, Aladdin, and Pinocchio.

Tentative thoughts for our 13th season include: The Prince and The Pauper, The Wind in the Willows, a play yet to be determined, and James and the Giant Peach (probably summer).


We have the tentative calendar for the 2000-2001 season on the wall in the space. As always, the calendar will remain tentative until we sign contracts for performance space for all our productions. This typically does not happen until October.


You may have noticed that during the 11th season we have worked to move almost all the production-related activities that once took place on Saturdays to week days. We had a reason for doing that, which is:

All-of-us Express Fall and Spring Terms!

Beginning in 2000/2001 we are offering two eight-week terms filled with courses. Courses will be offered between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm on Saturdays, with our space divided into several instructional areas. Course fees are generally $5 per contact hour, so an 8-week 2-hour course costs $90. We will continue to provide scholarships when needed.

A class schedule might look like this. (But this one is not real!)

Time Rehearsal Hall Costume Shop Scene Shop Storage Area
Sound Tech   Scene Painting Creative Dramatics
Lisa   Melody Evelyn
Stage Combat Sewing Props Mgmt Stage Makeup
TBA Doreen Evelyn/Doreen Lisa
lunch break
Clowning   Dramatic Writing Theater Games
Doreen   Lisa Evelyn
Clowning   Publicity Wrkshp Directed Reading
(continued)   (in office) Lisa Evelyn

To make such a schedule possible, we must have a person at the front desk from 9:00 to 5:00 on those Saturdays. We'd like to have unpaid helpers to begin with, but this could become a paid position once we really get our fall and spring terms going reliably.

Guilds Come to All-of-us Express

There's much more to staging a production than getting up on stage and acting. Beginning with the 2000/2001 season we will divide the crews into "guild crews" and "experience crews". This will allow us to better recognize the crafts and skills being learned during participation on crews with a series of certificates and patches. Our current policies regarding crew points continue. What follows is a rough draft of this scheme. We'll have a booklet with all the details ready by auditions in September.

Guild Crews

The guild crews are those that directly support the production of a show (the so-called "running crews") and in which one learns a theater craft:

Costumes, Directing, Management, Props, Sets, Tech

Each of these guilds will have apprentice, journeyman and master levels, with appropriate requirements and patches. One must reach the Master level in a guild to have the chance to be in charge of that guild for a production. As we have had experienced students direct productions in the past, we are introducing this way for students to have total responsibility in other areas as well.

The Front of House guild oversees publicity, box office, ushering, and eventually putting together the program. A small number of people will have overall responsibility for these areas for a production, taking over what were the functions of adult crew heads and working with Lisa, Reneé and the producers. Experience crews (see below) will still do much of the actual box office, ushering, window painting, and other publicity work as always.

There will be a fee of $30 ($15 for members) for participation on a guild crew, because these crews are essentially small courses in which one learns a skill. (The script fee imposed on some running crews will go away.)

Assistant Directors will move through Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master levels, after which they will be eligible to be hired to direct a show. (Yes, Student Directors and Guild Masters on a production will be paid.)

Ultimately we are aiming for the possibility of a mainstage production that is in every creative aspect carried out by people under the age of 18! (Including perhaps being written by our young people.) Though we may rarely attain that level, we do hope that after a few years of using this system of learning we will have trained enough Masters to allow us to increase the number of mainstage productions we can mount each season.

Experience Crews

The experience crews perform necessary shorter-term functions and provide a way for people to become familiar with working behind the scenes at the Theatre:

Audition, Box Office, Historian, Lobby Display, Mailout, Party, Set Construction, Set Mover, Window Display, Usher

Serving on an experience crew earns a crew point, listing in the program and on the lobby display board, and a certificate of crew service. There continues to be no required fee for experience crews.

Not everyone can serve on Set Construction and Set Mover crews in the same show, and there is a height requirement for set moving. So these remain separate crews. When one has served on both crews, a guild patch is earned. A similar scheme covers the areas of makeup, lights, and sound.

T-shirts, videos and the cast and crew party will continue to be optional fees at the levels set for the 11th season.


Our group sales are increasing! We will make two 1:00 Friday shows in summer a regular thing beginning in 2001. We're also working on a cooperative arrangement with Girl Scouts that includes advertising, group ticket sales, and classes.

The Golf Scramble is coming up on June 24 at Royal Scot. We all need to work hard to turn this already successful event into the major fundraiser it is for many organizations.

We are planning a number of smaller events including: ongoing book sales at our shows, gift wrapping at the malls, a rummage sale in August 2001, and a silent auction in fall 2001. Something special is in the works for Evelyn's fiftieth birthday this October. We'll be recruiting facilitators and helpers for all of these by early fall.

And speaking of all of you who give us some of your time...


Lisa Lees


P.S. On our web site (now www.allofusexpress.org) there are several links to the Amazon.com site. If you follow one of these links and purchase a book, we receive a percentage of the sale as a referral fee. (5% if you follow a general link, 15% if you follow a link to a specific book and buy that book). So if you're shopping online why not go through one of our links (under "fundraising" for example) and help us out? You pay no extra for your purchase and we benefit! As we begin to offer more classes, books used in those classes will be linked from our pages.

It is the mission of All-of-us Express Children's Theatre to provide young people with an opportunity to produce plays of a professional quality, and to provide the community with an opportunity to enjoy live family-oriented dramatic activities.

All-of-us Express, P.O. Box 1871, East Lansing MI 48826, (517) 394-4118

GO BACK to the Board of Trustees page of www.allofusexpress.org