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Recording the History of Alternative Theatre in Britain (1968-88) through oral history interviews and the collecting of archive material -
Working with the past to inspire the present.
Unfinished Histories Newsletter July 2015
  • Crowdfunding thank yous and update
  • Exhibitions
  • Events and conferences
  • Obituary
  • Books

Thank You Very Much!

Nicky Edmett as Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Pip Simmons Group, 1971
Photo: Roger Perry

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of our recent Crowdfunding campaign.

Our target was £5,000 but we raised nearly £6,500 in the two months up to 1st July!!

However the more we raise, the more interviews we can do, and the more it helps secure the work of the organisation. 

  • If you did make a donation and are a UK taxpayer but have not yet signed and returned a Gift Aid form, please get in touch and we can send you one by email or by post whichever you prefer
  • If you missed the Crowdfunding deadline but would still like to donate, please go to our Donations page where you can make a single donation, give by PayPal or sign up for regular giving

We've just been busily sending out Perks, Gift Aid forms and updating our web site list to acknowledge those who contributed.

The donations will enable us to embark on a new series of interviews and also, importantly, to train up others to help us record even more interviews and create the web pages that help people find detailed information about those interviewed.

And never slow to act, we  already recorded the first of our next series of interviews on 7th July! - with Emil Wolk of Pip Simmons Group and The People Show.

For more on training and future interview plans, please look out for future newsletters.

Many thanks to volunteers David Cleall, Gallin Hornick, Claire Macdonald, Juley Murray and Molly Blake as well as UH Board members for their help over this period!

Exhibitions

Re:Stage

You just have time to catch the Re:Stage exhibition at Swiss Cottage Library where 8 Unfinished Histories posters are on display (Monstrous Regiment, Welfare State, Broadside Mobile Workers' Theatre, Theatre of Black Women, Action Space, Inter-Action at the Almost Free Theatre, Bloolips, Lumiere and Son) together with Dmitri Galitzine's inter-active artwork inspired by the ideas and images of the alternative theatre movement. The exhibition comes down on Thursday 23rd July.

Meanwhile at Arcola Theatre...
The Homosexual Acts exhibition has been extended yet again by the theatre due to popular demand!!

But this will be replaced in September by a new poster exhibition:  

   Theatre for Radical Change

  

   
Designed to coincide with the show Octagon at the Arcola, exploring activism, poetry and social change, the exhibition will bring together an array of posters, many of them new acquisitions in the Unfinished Histories Collection, focusing on work in the 1970s and 80s which sought to change minds and hearts, took theatre out to and involved excluded communities, was in the classic tradition of activist / political theatre such as Brecht or agit-prop and addressed issues from nuclear weapons to disability rights or gender equality.

If you have posters you think we ought to feature or that you would like to offer to the Collection, please get in touch.
This is a low-budget exhibition: if you would like to help support it by sponsoring framing a poster or posters, please email us. 
More details later in the summer - including of accompanying readings and events.


Homosexual Acts: our exhibition on Lesbian and Gay Theatre 1975-1992 is available to tour, so if you are interested in hosting it for LGBT History Month or just generally, please get in touch.

Events and Conferences

LGBT History Month

Unfinished Histories will be taking part in the 2nd National Festival of LGBT History in February 2016 with a presentation in at least 3 cities on Lesbian Theatre in the 1970s and 80s -further details to come) We would be especially interested to hear from people who were involved in lesbian theatre companies outside London and the Southeast at the time.
Meanwhile the project has launched a second call for papers and archival presentations  - deadline 30th August  Details here

Radical Histories/Histories Of Radicalism, A Major Conference and Public History Festival
1-3 July 2016, Queen Mary University of London
Unfinished Histories will be contributing to the Culture, Art and Environment of this important conference next year. If you would be interested in offering a display, paper, reading, talk or performance please go to the Raphael Samuel History Centre web site. Deadline for proposals: 14th September 2015


Projects



Precious and Preserved
Precious and Preserved is a project set up by Juley Murray aimed at getting more black plays into schools for production and study. Juley has started a regular stall, specialising in African / Caribbean plays and theatre books, but carrying other plays and theatre books as well. It runs Thursdays  9 to 9 at Camden Market Hall, Camden High St, London NW1 8NH. If anyone is clearing their bookshelves she would welcome donations of theatre books to sell in support of the project. Please email  contact@preciousandpreserved.co.uk for more information.

Harvest - Last Few Days to Go!
Jon Sanders and Anna Mottram ar seeking support for the Kickstarter campaign for the feature film Harvest, described as 'about a group of performers who want to renew a creative partnership after many years of separation. They come together in the wild and mountainous setting of the French Cathar country, where three lonely farmhouses sit against the desolate terrain. The lines between fiction and reality quickly blur as relationships past and present are examined. It's a meditative, magical story that will delight those accustomed to our liberating style of improvised drama.' The ensemble cast, several of whom have connections with alternative theatre companies like Paradise Foundry and Meeting Ground, includes Bob Goody, Petra Markham, Bob Goody and Tanya Myers. Earlier films include Back to the Garden and Late September. Please go to their Harvest Kickstarter page to see how you can support the project.

Obituary

Jules Wright
We were greatly saddened to hear of the death from cancer of Jules Wright, one of the founder directors of Women's Playhouse Trust which sought to put major women playwrights onstage in the 1980s, first with a major production of Aphra Behn's The Lucky Chance at the Royal Court, then with Ntozake Shange's Spell #7 at the Donmar. The project also sought to purchase and create a women's theatre in central London. WPT, the Wapping Project became a rather different venue for - often highly theatrical- art installations in the cavernous old power plant and atmospheric restaurant she went on to run at Wapping Wall. Jules will also be remembered by those who took part  in the life changing series of workshops she ran with Dr Ann Read  back in the late 80s,  Putting Women Centre Stage, about women in theatre putting themselves centre stage in their own lives, examining what inhibited them and making work with a sense of agency and direction. See The Guardian for full obituary.
 

Books

Send Me a Parcel with a Hundred Lovely Things
By Carry Gorney (Ragged Clown Publishing ISBN: 9781 910667 019) 
Carry Gorney's autobiography  gives a vivid account of her childhood in a secular Jewish family in Yorkshire, growing up between cultures and languages. Her grandparents were German Jewish immigrants to Britain who ended up owning a shoddy mill, recycling rags, lived through the First World War in Dewsbury in an atmosphere of mistrust and spent the post-war period  between Yorkshire and Berlin. Carry's mother spent much of her teenage years in Berlin where as holders of British passports gave them an escape route from the advancing horrors overtaking their wider family and community. But escape to wartime Britain brought internment on the Isle of Man for her German Jewish husband as an enemy alien. It's a densely packed and compelling narrative interspersed with an account of he mother's final years, even before we reach Carry's birth and 50s childhood. The memoir's main interest in the context of this newsletter is the account of Carry Gorney's meeting with Ed Berman, playing games with kids under the Westway and her subsequent breakneck narrative of hurtling up and down the M1 in a psychedelic Morris between teacher training in Leeds and intensely-packed weekends with Inter-Action. Lively descriptions follow of the establishment of Interplay in Leeds and later work at Inter-Action (Milton Keynes) along with the excitement of involvement in the early Women's Movement in 1972 and the personal costs of all this in a brief period of breakdown, and then more work with children and young people. There is some confusion around the odd date: the Drury Lane Arts Lab was long gone by the time Judy Chicago's Dinner Party was made in 1979. But it is an inspiring, copiously illustrated and very welcome account of the times, the work and what drove it at a period of highly important creative upsurge. (Susan Croft)

Alan Wakeman
Alan Wakeman's autobiography Fragments of Joy and Sorrow – Memoirs of a reluctant revolutionary has just been published by Fantastic Books Publishing. Alan was instrumental in making our recent Homosexual Acts benefit happen and was one of the founder members of Gay Sweatshop where his play Ships appeared in the first season at the Almost Free Theatre in 1975. He has also been a Soho resident for many years and active campaigner for its preservation, campaigner for Gay Rights generally, author of language-teaching courses, translator (including of Le Petit Prince) and co-author a groundbreaking Vegan Cookbook  (with Gordon Baskerville, Faber & Faber 1998). We interviewed him for Unfinished Histories last year (it is one of a batch of interviews which we hope to deposit with Collections and launch pages for in the Autumn). You can order a copy here.



(You can also buy copies of  the wonderful poster reproducing his mural for that first Almost-Free Gay Theatre season 'What Exactly is Heterosexuality? ...and What Causes It? from our online shop - generously reprinted by Alan in aid of Unfinished Histories).




Playing for TIme: Making Art as if the World Mattered by Lucy Neal (Oberon Books ISBN: 9781783191864) 
Recently published (we hope to review it over the summer) it is described as a 'groundbreaking handbook is a resource for artists, community activists and anyone wishing to reach beyond the facts and figures of science and technology to harness their creativity to make change in the world. This timely book explores the pivotal role artists play in re-thinking the future; re-inventing and re-imagining our world at a time of systemic change and uncertainty'  Order direct here and if you give the promo code ONPFT2015 at checkout, as an Unfinished Histories subscriber you will get a £5 discount (valid until 30th September 2015)
 

Best wishes for a really good summer,

Susan and Jessica


Dr Susan Croft (Director)

Jessica Higgs (Associate Director)


Unfinished Histories: Recording the History of the Alternative Theatre Movement
www.unfinishedhistories.com

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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