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Recording the History of Alternative Theatre in Britain (1968-88) through oral history interviews and the collecting of archive material
July 2016 Newsletter

         The Move: Bethnal Green to Bishopsgate and Beyond
         Unfinished Histories New Indiegogo Funding Campaign

         Autumn Plans
         Trainee Programme and New Interviews
Rediscovering the Radical
         Obituaries:    Annie Castledine
Joan Oliver
                                 Bill Martin

        Other News:  Jude Alderson show: Ethical People
                               Meeting Jim

The Move: Bethnal Green to Bishopsgate and Beyond...
Well, the Bethnal Green office is finally empty after much hard work in the heat from our volunteers, Jess and myself, and the Unfinished Histories archive safely removed and rehoused at the Bishopsgate Institute. But the job is not complete. Beyond are the many tasks of  sorting, organising and cataloguing our collections within the Bishopsgate Institute archive.
To help us settle into our new home we are launching a new Crowdfunding Appeal, details to be found here: 

Unfinished Histories New Indiegogo Funding Campaign!
  Click on image to play video

The Unfinished Histories archive consists of articles, flyers, posters, scripts, and artefacts from the influential British Alternative Theatre Movement of 1960s - 80s.  By helping us fund this move you will help us to give better public access and preserve the collection for future generations.  We have much conservation work to do to make our collection properly available, housed to proper archival standards, create a full online catalogue, and digitise rare audio and video. Your support will help us achieve this!

Any extra funds raised will go towards us recording more of this theatre history and holding exhibitions and events to publicise this groundbreaking work. If you are a UK taxpayer, as a charity we can claim Gift Aid on your donation so please email us for a Gift Aid form: when donating.

PLEASE share our campaign with everyone you know, especially theatre lovers, artists and revolutionaries! We're very grateful for any amount that you are able to donate and thank you for taking the time to look at our campaign!!

Autumn Plans
From September we will be working at Bishopsgate towards creating access to online catalogues for our specialist collections including rare audio-video, posters, flyers, scripts. If you are interested in helping as a volunteer, please contact us. We will have more details of what's involved in September. We also aim to have a Launch event for our long-awaited new Interviewee pages - nearly 25 of them plus, courtesy of much hard work by David Cleall, many new Company pages for numerous under-documented companies. We also hope to have news of a new series of playreadings and discussions.

 Siren. Photo: Alex Legge

Unfinished Histories Benefit
Many thanks to all of those who attended our recent Benefit night at Queen Mary University London as part of Peopling the Palaces festival and especially to Claire Dowie and Siren for their brilliant performances and to Rose Sharp, Lois Weaver and the staff and students at QMUL. Commiserations to Rose Collis, who had been listed on the bill, but was prevented from taking part by ill health. (Fortunately, after keyhole surgery, she's now making a good recovery). We made about £450, a very welcome contribution to our core costs.
If you are putting on an event and could do a collection for Unfinished Histories, or would like to stage a Benefit performance for us, please get in touch: we'd love to hear from you.

Trainee Programme and New Interviews
Our Interviewer Trainee Programme has now recorded its first 4 interviews - with each pair of trainees doing one each - and these are now in the process of being edited, topic listed and having web pages prepared by the trainees. The interviews recorded were with:  Iris Walton (Cunning Stunts), Liz Leyh (Inter-Action), Poulomi Desai (H.A.C. - Hounslow Arts Co-op) and Jamal Ali (Black Theatre of Brixton)
We have done a few additional interviews over the past year and many of these still need Topic lists creating and extracts transcribing. They include Pam Schweitzer, Rudy Engelander, the members of Forkbeard Fantasy, actor Bill Bailey (as opposed to the comedian), Jen Ben Jakov & Robert Hahn  of Friends Roadshow. If you are interested in helping out please get in contact and we will get in touch in September.

Conference: Rediscovering the Radical
Unfinished Histories will be taking part in the conference
Rediscovering the Radical  *1st-3rd September 2016, Liverpool,  an international conference exploring how theatre can contribute to radical social and political change today, organised in collaboration between LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) and Collective Encounters. The programme can be found here Booking is now open via this link

Annie Castledine

Annie Castledine  died  on 4th June  in the home she was in in Eastbourne. Many people were deeply touched by Annie's life and work, perhaps especially the women directors she inspired and mentored. Anna Furse writes: was deeply touched by Annie's life and work. If it weren't for Annie I would never have got to direct.... She took me under her wing in 1989, long story. She was like so many women of her generation, struggling against so many prejudices and refusals. Annie was a larger than life woman in every way. She knocked down many walls and egos, demolished hypocrisy, and voiced her imagination in an amazing colloquial poetry. I loved the woman. But she never hurt me. And I think she would want to be remembered for her real being. So it would also be wrong to romanticise all of her qualities. For she could also be a monster as all who love her will say!'
Born in Rotherham, South Yorks, Annie began her career as a lecturer in Theatre Studies at Bulmershe Collge before training as a director under the Arts Council trainee scheme in 1979 at the Theatre royal York. There she set up her own small-scale company Northern Studio Theatre dedicated to developing new writing in the North. She went on to run Theatre Clwyd and the Derby Playhouse where she introduced  many 
women playwrights including Gerlind Reinshagen's Sunday's Children and Mary Pix's The Innocent Mistress. She later co-directed many key productions, working with Stephen Daldry at the Gate Theatre on Marieluise Fleisser's plays and also worked with Annabel Arden, Simon McBurney and Neil Bartlett. See The Guardian for full obituary. If you have any memories of Annie's work with Northern Stage we would love to hear from you.

Joan Oliver
We were very sorry to hear of the death from cancer of Joan Oliver in Shelburne, Nova Scotia,  where she had moved with her husband Peter Oliver and daughter Odette. From a working class family in Brecon, Joan felt written off by an education system as someone who would not amount to much. As a volunteer at a girls club in Slough she met Peter who had recently qualified in youth work at Swansea University. After a stint in Hyde, Manchester, they moved to London where she studied philosophy at Birkbeck and found it 'magic'. She worked with Peter in the early 1960s to transform Oval House from its role as youth club, centred on boys and sport (girls had access one night a week) to a vibrant arts centre and venue where young people locally and from across the city worked with innovative artists on ground-breaking and
exploratory projects. Oval House became a vital and anarchic centre for a whole range of work where artists like Ian Hinchliffe, Geraldine Pilgrim, Forkbeard Fantasy and Hilary Westlake got their start and The People Show, Pip Simmons Theatre Group and Welfare State developed projects, along with numerous others and the Black Panthers met in the cafe.  While Peter was nominally in charge, the whole family were vital to its functioning and its effectively 24-hour support role for young people locally; Joan was central to admin and artists' support, Odette was active in youth dance. When Peter joined Pip Simmons Theatre Group as a performer the family moved to Holland where Joan programmed three key performance festivals at De Lantaren, Rotterdam: for women, children and on crime. In Canada the family remained active in theatre, creating projects locally in the community. Alan Porter who was part of the Oval scene in the early years writes that 'She was an inspirational social worker and played a pivotal part in Alternative Theatre'. John Fox interviewed her for Unfinished Histories in late 2014 and we hope to launch a full Interview page for her shortly. Meanwhille if you have memories, images or photos to share, please contact us.

Bill Martin
We are sad to
note that Bill Martin died on 21st June, 2016. In the early 60s Bill extended his work as drama teacher in Enfield by setting up a youth theatre company, Contemporary Theatre. In 1966 he moved his company’s base to Oval House and their successful musical / documentary Events Leading to a Situation from which People Find Themselves Unable to Escape - about young offenders and the law - transferred to The Roundhouse in May 1969.
This innovative
production used tape-recorded dialogue, slides and film as well as live music and performance. Later Bill relocated to Hexham, Northumberland and continued to work as theatre director, playwright and founder of the touring theatre company, threeovereden. Unfinished Histories are planning a Contemporary Theatre webpage later in the year and if anyone can contribute to this, please contact: David Cleall c/o Unfinished Histories

Other News:

Jude Alderson show: Ethical People
Jude Alderson of
Sadista Sisters fame - see page on our site - presents a new show. Ethical People: a contemporary satire about the modelling industry with her company Amazonia Music Theatre, playing on the Camden Fringe at the Etcetera Theatre 4th-7th August and the Cockpit 9-10th August. 

Meeting Jim

Meeting Jim is a documentary film to be made by a group of women from different countries. They write: 'Meeting Jim is a feature length documentary about a journey back to the lifetime of Jim Haynes, By establishing  social hubs and creative centres for artists and art lovers to express themselves and show their work, Jim Haynes made a strong contribution to the artistic and literary scene of the time and became a key figure in the counterculture movement during the 60s....  'The journey of Jim and of the film -which will take place in 2016 between Paris, London and Edinburgh- is just an ordinary journey of an extraordinary man.'  We interviewed the legendary Jim Haynes back in 2009 for Unfinished Histories about thew extraordinary Drury Lane Arts Lab he set up, where so many key individuals and companies began their careers. The group are trying to raise funding for the film. To contribute please go to their Meeting Jim Indiegogo page
They are also looking for people who might be able to help them with accommodation in London and Edinburgh. Please email:

Jessica Higgs is directing Realtine/Noreen at the Tristan Bates Theatre, August 23rd-27th, 6pm as part of the Camden Fringe 2016.
Written and performed by Janet Behan, Realtine/Noreen is two funny, insightful, poignant portraits of two very different women scarred by the experience of growing up in a theocracy. To book:
Tristan Bates Box Office

All the best,

Susan and Jessica

Dr Susan Croft (Director)
Jessica Higgs (Associate Director)

Unfinished Histories
: Recording the History of the Alternative Theatre Movement

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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