BLOC is the largest English-language musical theatre performing company in Brussels, and is comprised of over 200 members from 22 nations. They encompass a broad spectrum of cultures, ages and professions, all sharing a love of musical theatre and working together to achieve high-quality productions as well as enjoying varied social activities. BLOC also has its own page on Facebook and Twitter .

HISTORY

BLOC began life as the Brussels Gilbert and Sullivan Society under the chairmanship of Peter Barker-Jones. During the next seventeen years all of the Savoy operas were performed on at least one occasion, either in concert or as a full production.
The mounting costs of full scale operatic productions and the continuing dependence on ticket revenue as the primary source of revenue meant that the Society had to broaden its range of music theatre in order to attract larger audiences. For this reason the Society was re-launched in 1992 as the Brussels Light Opera Company, or BLOC as it is commonly known. The Company now performs Gilbert and Sullivan, other traditional light operas and modern musicals in roughly equal proportions.
A more detailed history of the recent period can be found in our new letter archive, see BLOC Notes Archive.

MEMBERSHIP

BLOC is an amateur group of people of many nationalities, composed of adults and children of all ages. Although singing is the company’s main concern, the social side is not neglected and several events are organised throughout the year, the main ones being the Christmas party which usually follows the AGM and the summer party. Other events, such as performance from scratch which give all members a chance to sing solo parts, and trips to see performances by other groups are organised from time to time. All members receive a regular update on activities through the BLOC notes newsletter.
Not more than two major shows are performed during one calendar year and you do not have to take part in every show. Non-singing members are also very welcome as willing hands are always needed backstage or to help with administration. Please feel free to sit in on a few rehearsals before committing yourself. All newcomers wishing to perform on stage are required to take an informal voice test, but you are not expected to have any musical training in order to join.
Click here to see Bloc membership policy.

FUNDING

Productions are financed primarily from ticket sales with approximately 10% of the revenue coming from programme advertisements and sales. Our overall financial aim is to avoid making a loss on any production, rather than to make a surplus. Typical budgets are now in excess of € 30,000, the major items being theatre hire, music director, orchestra, scenery, costume and royalties. Some sponsorship has been obtained in the past, but this is now extremely difficult to obtain.

In addition to these shows BLOC has also put on a concert each year, some of which have been open to the public and others which have been held as a private party for members and friends.

A TYPICAL PRODUCTION

At least one year before the planned date of the next production, the committee
- decide on the show to be performed
- agree a slot in the calendar with other amateur groups in Brussels
- book a theatre
- appoint a music director
- appoint a stage director
- appoint a production manager

Chorus rehearsals start about six months before the production date and are held every Tuesday evening from 8:00 to 10:00. Auditions for the principal roles are held about one month after the start of chorus rehearsals and are open to non-BLOC members; however anyone accepting a role must become a member of the company.

Blocking starts shortly after the auditions with separate rehearsals for principals on either the Monday or the Wednesday of each week. Nearer the production date, chorus and principal rehearsals are integrated to provide continuity. Depending on progress, additional weekend rehearsals may also be scheduled. Cast members are often asked to build scenery, make costumes or help with other aspects of the production. The last two weeks of any production require considerable commitment from all the cast, a typical diary being as follows:

* Sunday - additional rehearsals for moves or dances
* Tuesday - complete run through with the entire cast
* Thursday - complete run through with the entire cast
* Sunday am - orchestra rehearsal with soloists
- get-in begins with stage crew and chorus members
* Sunday pm - Italienne with the entire cast
- get-in completed by stage crew
* Monday - technical rehearsal with accompanist
* Tuesday - dress rehearsal with orchestra
* Wednesday - performance
* Thursday - performance
* Friday - performance
* Saturday - performance
* Sunday pm - performance
* Sunday evening - after show party

One week off, a video evening of the recent production and then the cycle starts again with preparation for the next show!