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Recording the History of Alternative Theatre in Britain (1968-88) through oral history interviews and the collecting of archive material
Unfinished Histories March 2015 Newsletter

Homosexual Acts Gala Benefit
Three Marias

Feminist Libraries and Archives Stall at WOW Festival
Could you be our fundraiser?
Tuesday Salons call-out

Recent interviews by Unfinished Histories
Unfinished Histories Items for Sale
Related Events - Sphinx Theatre: Centre Stage Heroines
                             Alternative Theatre  and the Squatting Movement
Productions - Play Mas by Mustapha Matura
                         Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage by Robin Soans
                         Frozen by Bryony Lavery
Other news - Carole Woddis reviews website

Homosexual Acts Gala Benefit


Thanks to all of you who came along to the Homosexual Acts event on Sunday 15th February at the Arcola Theatre. It was an amazing reunion of so many of those who had been part of the first Gay Sweatshop season at the Almost Free Theatre in 1975, some of them meeting for the first time since then. There were also numerous people who had been part of Gay Sweatshop over the years - along with many younger audience members discovering this work for the first time. We are very grateful to the performers from Arcola Queer Collective and other groups who presented staged readings and to the speakers: Alan Wakeman, Ed Berman, Norman Coates, Martin Sherman, Simon Callow and Alan Pope, as well as our brilliant MCs Neil Bartlett and Lois Weaver.


Sadly because of the focus on the Homosexual Acts season we were forced to cut some material from the second half, which foregrounded the history and work of the women of Gay Sweatshop but we hope to stage future events drawing on this material. The event ended with a high octane performance from Siren in the bar, who have recently re-formed, following their interview with Unfinished Histories.

The unique exhibition which celebrates a range of lesbian and gay companies from the 70s and 80s can still be seen in the Arcola foyer, open daily from 10 till 6 (and is available to tour). Thanks to the volunteers and directors Chris Hurrell, Ray Malone and Nick Connaughton. Nick was also wonderful in organising the event for the Arcola, but all the staff were enormously helpful and we are very grateful to the Arcola for generously making the event possible. Unfinished Histories raised around £3500, which gives us a baseline from which to develop our next series of projects. If you were planning to make a donation to support the work, we'd still be very grateful for your contribution and will be announcing our exciting new Crowdfunding campaign shortly. Watch this space.


Three Marias in Exeter 'Remembering the Translation of New Portuguese Letters to the Stage'

The Three Marias event in Exeter will consist of a a series of interviews in the morning with three of the women who were involved in the original staging of pieces from New Portuguese Letters back in the 1970s, in protest against the suppression of this major feminist work in Portugal: Sue Jones-Davies, Natasha Morgan and Anne Engel. This will be followed in the afternoon at 1.45. by their staged reading of the original New Portuguese Letters adaptation, called Mariana's Lament, as adapted by Faith Gillespie, followed at 2.30 - 4.00 by presentations from academics: Hilary Owen and Vanessa Pereira  and a group discussion/ Q&A. The afternoon's events are open to the public; the morning event is open only to the workshop participants though anyone who is particularly interested in attending can email Dr Ana Martins with their reasons. All events take place in the Music and Drama Room, Devonshire House, University of Exeter: Map


Feminist Libraries and Archives Stall at WOW Festival

Unfinished Histories is hoping to be part of a bookstall at the WOW (Women of the World) Festival on the Southbank in London, 6th-8th March. At present there is some confusion as to whether the Feminist Libraries and Archives stall will be available all 3 days but it will be available on Friday and we are optimistic about the other days. You will be able to buy copies of the book Re-Staging Revolutions, our Women's Theatre CD, 'What are the Causes of Heterosexuality?' poster, Beryl and the Perils comic and poster, as well as posters from other women's theatre companies, along with goodies from other feminist library and archive projects such as Women's Liberation Music Archive.  



We’re looking for a committed and enthusiastic person to make contact with individuals who could be prospective donors to Unfinished Histories. Although we can’t offer a fee, you would keep 5% of all monies raised. You need to have Excel and websearch skills, time to spare for the project, and a persuasive personality! Contact us at:



Unfinished Histories is hoping to restart our Third Tuesday in the month salons at our Bethnal Green premises. We’re looking for individuals or groups to share their memories from the history of the Alternative Theatre movement. These could be playreadings, discussions, sharing of films and photographs and any other archive materials. We are looking for individuals or groups interested in organising and publicising an event. We’re already working on plans for sessions celebrating the work of Bruce Birchall, of Naftali Yavin and The Other Company at Inter-Action, and of Paradise Foundry. Previous salons included: shows by The Artaud Company, Agit-Squat: on Squatting and the Alternative Theatre Movement; The Phantom Captain's What To Do on a Date? and Psychoanalysis and Alternative Theatre. Email us on if you can help, or have ideas for a session.


Recent interviews by Unfinished Histories

Roland Muldoon

We are hard at work creating web pages, topic lists and fluff-edited versions of the latest interviews, with help from our volunteers. Last Autumn we did interviews with Mark Long of People Show, writer and co-founder of Black Theatre Co-op, Mustapha Matura, and CAST founder Roland Muldoon. Meanwhile John Fox and Sue Gill recently did an interview in Canada with Joan Oliver, who ran Oval House with her husband the late Peter Oliver in the 1960s. 

We still have a backlog of interviews needing topic lists, web pages creating and transcripts of extracts. If you would be interested in helping with these please get in touch. We will eventually be depositing copies of  our interviews with the British Library and other collections but if in the meanwhile you would like to arrange an advance view of material, this is possible, though we have to charge a viewing fee. Please email:


Unfinished Histories Items For Sale

If you have a forthcoming event where you would like to sell posters or books in aid of Unfinished Histories we would be very glad to hear from you. You can also buy items online including the 'What are the Causes of Heterosexuality?' poster and the book Re-Staging Revolutions in our shop



Sphinx Theatre: Centre Stage Heroines  

Our friends at Sphinx Theatre are responding to the ongoing gender disparity on UK Stages with a  two day festival of performances, workshops and readings. Work by leading playwrights, Timberlake Wertenbaker, April de Angelis and Pam Gems will be presented alongside vital emerging talent and new work from Kali Theatre, Bolton Octagon and China Plate, culminating in a special 24 hour plays: Heroines event with brand new work from Rona Munro, Barney Norris and Rachel De lahay amongst others.

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW go to for more information and to book.  

Alternative Theatre and the Squatting Movement


People who attended our Agit-Squat event, celebrating the role of Alternative Theatre in the Squatting Movement, will be interested in the exhibition and event at Swiss Cottage Gallery. Members of the Abeona Housing Co-operative and local people have been researching the history of the housing co-operative movement in 1970s and 80s Camden. Featuring the film Another Utopia, the exhibition runs from February 23 to April 5th, with a screening at the Cinema Museum, this Thursday 5th March. Doors open at 6.30pm. The screening will start at 7.30pm and be followed by an informal discussion.



Play Mas by Mustapha Matura

The play enjoys its first major revival since the Royal Court production in 1974 at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond 11th March to 11th April, directed by Paulette Randall. Mustapha Matura’s career as a writer started with Black Pieces at Inter-Action’s Ambiance lunchtime theatre season in 1970 (an extract was recently seen at Unfinished Histories’s 'Black Theatre in the 1970s and 80s' event at Ovalhouse). Mustapha spoke at one of the recent Goldsmiths talks about his involvement in co-founding Black Theatre Co-op and was recently interviewed by Unfinished Histories. To book click here

Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage by Robin Soans
Max Stafford-Clark’s Out of Joint are co-producing, with the Arcola and National Theatre Wales, and Sherman Cymru,  a new play telling the story of Gareth Thomas, the gay Welsh rugby icon. It is touring from this Thursday, opening in Cardiff, and the show comes to the Arcola for a month from 20 May. Information about the show here, including a trailer, tour dates, and a blog about gay sports stars:
Frozen by Bryony Lavery

Blueprint Theatre Company in association with Park Theatre presents Frozen by Bryony Lavery, directed by Ian Brown, 12 March – 11 April.
Box office: 020 7870 6876

Other News

Carole Woddis website Woddis Reviews  
Many of you will remember the excellent and informative alternative theatre reviews penned by Carole Woddis (City Limits). Her books include, Sheer Bloody Magic, two editions of the Bloomsbury Theatre Guide and co-authored Faber’s Pocket Guide to 20th Century Drama. Still reviewing, Carole has recently launched her own website to house her current reviews and those of the past -

All best wishes

Susan and Jessica

Dr Susan Croft, Director
Jessica Higgs, Associate Director

Patrons: Adjoa Andoh, Baroness Christine Crawley, Stephen Daldry,
Tony Elliott, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Pratibha Parmar, Sir Tony Robinson,
Dame Harriet Walter

Board: Danny Braverman, Tony Coult, Ness Lee, Olusola Oyeleye, Lucie Regan, Sue Timothy

Company no: 3950781 + Charity no: 1149431



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