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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 Events:
Third Tuesday Salons
The Phantom Captin, What to do on a Date

The Phantom Captin: What To do on a Date, performance image

The first of our new regular monthly salons was a roaring success last week! We are now looking ahead to the next scheduled event on the 18th June. Check out our blog for details of discussions about future potential topics for the sessions but in the meantime we plan to get the ball rolling with a series of readings of plays and performance texts created by various alternative theatre companies.
Many fringe theatre productions during the 1960s-1980s were of significantly more than passing interest but got lost to view with the passage of time. In this series of events, directors and writers of the period will be invited  to choose a play from their oeuvre that they think deserves another airing. Audience members will take part in a reading of the play (in its entirety or in extracts) and join in discussion with its writer/director. On other occasions we will choose a play or plays around a theme. If you are a writer or director with an idea for a play that you would like to read at a future session get in touch.
We kick off the series on Tuesday 18th June with
The Phantom Captain: What To Do On a Date

Originally performed in 1973, What to Do on a Date, was co-written by Neil Hornick, who will introduce the piece, and Joel Cutrara. This bizarre, Pirandellian show, billed as ‘A well-made play lovingly performed by well-made players’, is adapted from a Catholic pamphlet counselling American teenagers to exercise strict caution in their relationships. But the orthodox narrative frequently slips its moorings into libido-fuelled fantasy and melodrama. It’s also unusual in constituting a playfully self-reflective ‘lecture’ on the work of The Phantom Captain company itself.  

Please come along, read a part, meet Neil Hornick and encounter this innovative and unjustly neglected company that started in 1970 and who often explained that ‘We want you to slip on the banana skin only to end up standing on your head eating the banana.’

Starting time 6 for 6.30 till 8.30.
Anson Room, St Margaret's House Settlement, 21 Old Ford Rd, London E2 9PL

The Phantom Captain was described in the Alternative Theatre Directory 1976 as:
'Vision Mongers and Environ Mentalists. Our aim: recreation of the present. Our slogan: nonconformity for the masses. We demand a full explanation of everything, abject apologies, immediate recognition of the Phantom Captain, closer audience surveillance, legalisation of Indian music, an accidental breakthrough, and unconditional acceptance of our demands. We pledge: Phantom Captain flag days, love at first sight, drive-in swimming pools, a warp therapy tent on every street corner, fair police dog trials, rush-hour choreography, mental fitness displays, dial-a-peacock service, and preferential treatment for all'

Refreshments will be available during the session.
The event is free but you must RSVP as we need to know numbers.
Email confirmation or phone: 020 3659 5678 (please leave a contact mobile number)

And on 16th July:
Agit-Squat : Squatting and the Alternative Theatre Movement
Including James Saunders's Squat: a documentary about Grosvenor Road, Twickenham and Rough Theatre's Squat Now While Stocks Last

Unfinished Histories Needs....

Contacts Wanted
Thanks to those people who passed on contacts for members of Trickster.
Here's a few more for you:

Crystal Theatre (formerly Crystal Theatre of the Saint)
Set up in 1971 in Bristol by Paul T Davies, Mortimer Ribbons and Bradley Winterton, it later did a residency in Rotterdam. Does anyone know how to contact former members of the Company or what happened to them?

Pirate Jenny/ Team Two
Does anyone know how to get hold of Jenny Rees?
Or of playwright Melissa Murray or journalist Eileen Fairweather  who set up Pirate Jenny (Team Two) also known simply as Team Two?

Is anyone in touch with Gloria Hamilton, founder of Umoja, a black theatre company based in a church hall in Camberwell, Ray Barcia who directed some of their shows - or anyone else from Umoja?

Brixton Fairies
Is anyone in contact with former members of the Brixton Fairies?

Triple Action
Where can we find Steven Rumbelow founder of Triple Action or any other core members?

Thanks for any help or leads you can give in getting hold of people who can tell the stories of these companies.
Please pass this information on to anyone else who might be able to help.

Scripts Wanted
Many of the scripts and performance texts of the alternative theatre movement have never found their way into the archives. Most were never published. Many that were are hard-to-find and out-of-print  We are gradually building a collection of scripts, some in digital form, some in physical form. If you performed in, directed, designed, stage managed shows on the fringe etc and have collections of scripts from this period, we will be pleased to give them a home. With your permission we will make them available for research and reading and can consider making them the focus of a Third Tuesday Salon.

We are also currently in need of copies of SCYPT journal issues 27 and 31 and New Voices from 1985, just in case any of you have copies that we could borrow. 

And thank you to all those people who recommended reasonably priced accountants!

Thanks also to Chris Stanton who kindly donated 4 large wonderful boxes of Time Out magazines from the 1970s and early 80s!

As we mentioned last time....


Jenny Harris Memorial events

These are at the Young Vic on Sunday 2nd June 2013 - This event will focus on her life and work, nationally and internationally, during and after her time with The National Theatre.  Doors will open at 3.30pm with the performance commencing at 4pm. To book a ticket to this event click here.
The second event, at The Albany Empire in Lewisham, will be held on Sunday 16th June 2013.  This event will focus on her life and work during and after her time with The Combination in Brighton and at The Albany.  Doors will open at 3.30pm with the performance commencing at 4pm. To book a ticket to this event click here.

All tickets are free. Seating is unreserved.

Many Cultures, One Community?, the Kentish Town-focused community history project, with which Unfinished Histories have collaborated, presents the Kentish Town Carnival, a cultural arts festival, the culmination of  their local history and performing arts project, and public forum for local artists, musicians, film makers, poets and local businesses. The 2013 festival will be on 16th of June, and will feature a parade with wild and wonderful floats, samba bands, all at Talacre, the community space founded by Inter-Action in the 1970s. The new Fun Art Bus will be there too.

Exhibition Materials and Support
An exhibition on the alternative theatre movement 1968-88, based on the material discovered through the volunteers' work on our project, will open at Ovalhouse in November and then go to Kentish Town Community Centre and Camden Archives in early 2014.  In order to keep our costs down we would be very grateful for the gift or loan of various items, especially exhibition cases, display screens that either can be fastened to the wall or freestanding, a 'listening post' where we can play audio extracts, headphones, large flat screen TV/ monitor or smaller flatscreen computer monitors for projections and/or to allow access to our web site.
Events: We can now confirm the Launch date for the exhibition at Oval as Sunday 10th November.
The Kentish Town Community Centre exhibition will open with a day event focusing on Inter-Action on Saturday 4th January.
More information as it becomes available...
We will be organising a number of additional events to link in with the exhibitions including possible staged readings of play or extracts, some of them drawing on the Third Tuesday Salons . If you might be interested in taking part, please email Vanessa our Project Co-ordinator or come along to the Salon.

Our new office is in a position to collect archive material
One of the benefits of our new office space is that we are now in a position to collect archive material. We have the facility to store posters, photographs, leaflets, books and publications as well as audio and video material and digital scans. We also are often able to transfer analogue material from VHS and other video into digital formats in exchange for our keeping a copy.We have a small research library on alternative theatre and the social, political, cultural context in which it emerged. If you have material that you might wish to donate to the project, please get in touch.

Social Networks
For those of you that use social networks, don’t forget to like us on facebook and follow us on twitter and even check out our blog. These are easy ways to get regular updates from our team on the progress of the project.  

Financial Donations
While Unfinished Histories currently has funding for the specific project Company Links, we still need to raise money for all the other areas of our work - recording and editing full-length interviews, developing the archive and maintaining the website - and especially for next year when the HLF project finishes, to enable us to build on all the positive work of this year. If you are in a position to make a donation, however small, you can do so via Paypal on our website or alternatively write to us at our office in Bethnal Green.

Best wishes and hope to see many of you on 18th June and 16th July!

Unfinished Histories

Director: Susan Croft,

Associate Director: Jessica Higgs

Project Co-ordinator: Vanessa Bartlett

Web Site Co-ordinator: Sam Nightingale

Board - Danny Braverman, Vanessa Lee, Sue Timothy

If you have received this email it is because you have shown an interest in the project, had a direct involvement with it or we believe you might like to know about the work.

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