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

Fundraising Thanks!
Unfinished Histories Events

        October Event -  Third Tuesday programme
        Arcola Queer Collective – book the date
        Scripts Wanted
        New Board Members
Other Events
         Action Space Huw Wahl film
         Les Diaboliques -Maggie Nichols

            Arnold Wesker Celebration - Note date is 9th October!
         "All Arts, All Welcome" GFEST October 2016
         Tony Craze
          Liane Aukin

Fundraising Thanks!
First of all, another big thank you to all those who donated to our recent crowdfunding campaign to help support our move to Bishopsgate. This raised over £3,000, with a few promises still to come in and enables us to pay for at least some of the work involved in moving the archive and cataloguing it, rather than it all being voluntary. We can also claim Gift Aid on quite a lot of the donations, so if you are a UK taxpayer who donated and haven't yet sent us in a Gift Aid form, please do so. And if you missed the Crowdfunding appeal and would still like to donate you can do so here!

Unfinished Histories Events
The Return of Third Tuesdays!
Thanks to the Arcola Theatre Unfinished Histories are pleased to be able to announce that our Third Tuesdays are back. The original series of Third Tuesday events took place at our Bethnal Green base in 2013 and were followed by the extensive series of events linked to Re-Staging Revolutions. 
To start us off we are going to run a series of Unrehearsed Readings linked to key anniversaries of 2016 and some of the alternative theatre plays that addressed them 40 years ago. They will take place initially at the Arcola Theatre meeting room from 7 - 10 p.m. and are free but places must be booked as we have very limited space. With an unrehearsed reading you come and can pick up a script, so it would good if you are prepared to read a part,  - or if you prefer you can just listen.  If you book but can't come, please tell us as places are limited to 10 people. (We are planning to continue the events into the new year when we will have access to a larger space)

October Event - Tues 18th Oct
The first in the series of Unrehearsed Readings is the theatre-in-education play: No Pasaran. It was devised by the cast and scripted by David Holman, first produced by M6 Theatre, Rochdale to mark the 40th anniversary of the battle of Cable Street when on 4th October 1936 the East End, especially the Jewish community, united to stop Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists marching through Stepney. 
Book here for No Pasaran 

November Event - Tues 15th Nov
The second Unrehearsed Reading will be of The Non-Stop Connolly Show - or part of it - it's a 24-hour epic. John Arden and Margaretta D'Arcy's 'dramatic cycle of continuous struggle in six parts' centred on the life of James Connolly, was staged in Dublin in 1975 and put on as a 24-hour staged reading at Inter-Action's Almost Free Theatre in Rupert St in 1976 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Easter Rising. We will read part of it to mark the 100th anniversary year. A full reading was staged at the Finborough Theatre earlier this year. Book here for The Non-Stop Connolly Show

December Event - Tues 20th Dec
The third reading will be The Nine Days and Saltley Gates,  a play by Jon Chadwick and John Hoyland, originally produced by Foco Novo theatre company in 1976 to mark the 50th anniversary of the General Strike in May 1926. We will read it to mark the 90th anniversary year of the General Strike. The play juxtaposes events in 1926 with those at Saltley Gates in the miners' strike of 1972 when miners tried to block the movement of coke by non-union drivers. It was originally directed by Jon Chadwick with Roland Rees who died last year as did John Hoyland. Book here for The Nine Days...

Photo of Saltley Gates protest by Tony Coult

These event links to the exhibition Theatre for Radical Change, which continues on view in the Arcola cafe foyer. See for more details

Put the dates in your diary now!
Coming next year: Arcola Queer Collective
As part of a season which will include a rare production of Mae West's play The Drag, Arcola Queer Collective will stage an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain. Unfinished Histories are co-organising an event featuring extracts from a series of LGBTQ plays from the 50s to the 90s.  As Gay Sweatshop was at the centre of the Homosexual Acts event we did in 2015, this time we're looking at scripts from a host of other lesbian and gay companies from Siren to Brixton Faeries, The General Will to Hard Corps. The event will be staged in aid of Unfinished Histories and will be on Sunday 4th January at 3.00p.m. at the Arcola Theatre. More details and how to book next time.


Scripts Wanted
Now we have a proper home for them at Bishopsgate Institute we are continuing to build our Script Collection and have recently added collections of scripts gathered by Malcolm Griffiths when he was at Nottingham Trent University, and from designer Kate Owen. If you were involved in alternative theatre shows during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, as actor, director, designer, technician, writer and kept the scripts (whether traditional scripts or scenarios for experimental work, group devised or individually authored) we would love to have them - often where work was unpublished and company archives were not kept or have since been scattered, yours may be the only copies to survive.  Where possible, we will try to track down rights-holders. If you wrote scripts on LGBTQ themes, especially black or Asian work, which we might feature in the Arcola event above, we'd especially like to hear from you.

Board members
As various people have had to move on, Unfinished Histories will shortly be look for additional members of our Board, who can actively help develop the organisation, raising funding and developing our work. We will shortly be putting up a notice of those areas of skills and experience we need to fill, so if you think you might be interested, watch this space.

Other Events

Action Space - Huw Wahl film
There willl be a screening of Huw Wahl's film about Action Space at Regent Street Cinema on 15th December 2016. Built around a portrait of his father Ken Turner, the documentary explores the group's exploration of inflatable art and draws on the extensive archive of early film and video they recorded through the 1970s. Founded by Ken and Mary Turner the group was committed to taking art out of the gallery and into the wider community. The new film follows Huw Wahl's earlier To Hell With Culture (2014) investigating the impact of Herbert Read founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts and radical thinker. 'Huw Wahl's new documentary is a meditative, visually rich portrait of this band of dreamers... a quietly moving attempt to understand the ideals that captivated his father' (Sukhdev Sandhu, Sight and Sound, Sept 2016)
Les Diaboliques

Les Diaboliques - Scottish vocalist Maggie Nicols, French bassist Joëlle Léandre and Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer - are touring England this November!

Pioneers of feminist free improvisation Les Diaboliques - Scottish vocalist Maggie Nicols, French bassist Joëlle Léandre and Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer - are touring England this November!
Their collective CV reads like a who’s who of avant-garde music in the 20th and 21st centuries. They have played with all the legendary figures including John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, John Stevens, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, Phil Minton and many others.
They are also towering musicians in their own right. Schweizer and Nicols were members of the iconic Feminist Improvising Group (FIG) and performed with Léandre in the European Women’s Improvising Group. In Les Diaboliques, formed in 1990, Nicols, Léandre and Schweizer’s incomparable personalities combine to invent music of depth, unpredictability, intensity and delirious humour. For Nicols, Léandre and Schweizer, free improvisation charts the path to musical and social liberation. This tour is the last opportunity to see Les Diaboliques perform in England.
For full details of the tour to Brighton, Derby, London and Bristol and how to book see

Arnold Wesker - Note date is 9th October!
The life, work, and legacy of Arnold Wesker (1932-2016) will be celebrated on Sunday, 9 October, at 3 pm at the Royal Court Theatre, where many of his greatest plays were presented. Hosted by former Royal Court Artistic Director Dominic Cooke, the programme will consist of reminiscences, tributes, music and readings by collaborators, colleagues and friends, including actors who have played leading roles in his plays. It will last around an hour and a half, and the bar will be open afterwards.
 Tickets are free but must be reserved either online at or via the Royal Court Theatre Box Office at 020 7565 5000.

"All Arts, All Welcome" GFEST October 2016
 films, performances, art exhibition & debates programme anounced on GFEST 2016 website: WISE THOUGHTS - CCH / GFEST - Gaywise FESTival - London's LGBT cross art festival for all /


Tony Craze


We were really sorry to hear of the death of Tony Craze, playwright and director who ran the Soho Poly in the 1980s. Tony  was a lovely person, a fine writer and hugely supportive of new writing and writers generally.   He died, aged 72, peacefully on Friday 9 September, at 1pm  surrounded by his family  at his home in the Haute-Garonne, France where he had moved a few years ago with his wife Sarah LeBrocq who directed his play Flying Ashes at the ICA.

He won the first Verity Bargate Award for new theatre writing in 1983 with Shona, a terse attack on modern psychiatry,. He went on to play an important role in British theatre for over 30 years, both through productions of his own work and through his championing of other writers’ voices as the Artistic Director of the Soho Poly Theatre and as Theatre Writing Associate at London Arts Board.
Born in Newquay in 1944, he had a peripatetic early life, working as a child actor before attending art and film school. He wrote a number of other successful plays, including Living With Your Enemies and Passion, which Michael Billington described in the Guardian as “an honourable and engrossing attempt to explore the gulf between well-intentioned western liberalism and burning Palestinian rage.”
Craze’s plays were sparse, and characterized by an unstinting honesty. In many of his works, the British class system is interiorized by characters who battle their own anger, and search for a sense of peace and dignity. He had a long relationship with the Soho Theatre, which produced many of his works, including Angelus and Going West.
Tony Craze was also a committed teacher. As a resident writer at the Soho Poly, he painstakingly helped emerging voices find their way in the world of British theatre. From 1988-1991 he became Artistic Director of the Soho Poly. See here for full obituary and for Sue Dunderdale’s tribute to him.

There will be a memorial for Tony, to be held in London, at a future date. 

Liane Aukin
Sadly Liane Aukin's was one of those Unfinished Histories  interviews that never came about. We discussed doing one on several occasions and there was a fascinating talk I (Susan Croft) had with Liane in a Kentish Town pub where I so wished I had an audio recorder with me, and she told me about writing scripts for a site-specific performance in a swimming pool and for Emergency Exit Arts, as well as being involved in the first Women's Theatre season at the Almost Free Theatre in 1974, as well as something about  her career as actress, writer, director, radio producer and psychotherapist and her involvement in Greenham protests. She was also involved in the Women's Theatre season at the Leicester Haymarket sometime afterwards. She wrote in her essay 'Insider' in Women and Theatre: Calling the Shots edited  by Susan Todd [now Lily Susan Todd], Faber & Faber, 1984: 'They were both exciting and important projects but the centre of my emotional life was the learning experience of being with and talking to women from all walks of life and taking part in various actions, which developed theory out of practice.  I was still an outsider, one of the 'others', but I'd been reclassified as Liberated. I was still overworked and underpaid, I still felt unease and a great flow of anger, but this was no longer considered a personal idiosyncrasy. It was given official, political status.'  See The Guardian obituary for more. If you would like to contribute your memories to a web page for Liane, please contact us:

Susan Croft


Coming Soon reviews of  Banner Theatre's - Singing the Changes
and  British Theatre Companies 1980-1994  by Graham Saunders and British Theatre Companies 1995-2014 by Liz Tomlin, both Bloomsbury, 2015


The Bacc for the Future campaign team
Creative, artistic and technical subjects saw one of their biggest declines in uptake this year.
According to figures published by the Joint Council for Qualifications on Thursday 25 August 2016, creative, artistic and technical subjects saw a 7.75% decrease in the number of students taking them in 2016 (from 2015) and overall a drop of 21% since 2010.
They are asking you to write to your MP today to ask them to support a broad and balanced curriculum .
If you don’t have time to write a personal email or letter, they have created a template letter to assist you. However, if you do want to prepare your own personal letter, or would like to respond to a reply you may have already received from your MP they have gathered all the key facts and figures to provide you with as much information as possible in order to respond.
Finally, to change the Department for Education’s (DfE) mind they need to know what your MP thinks; if you receive a response from your MP let them know and please send their response by email to

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, Susan Croft, Ness Lee, Olusola Oyeleye, Sue Timothy

Company no: 3950781 + Charity no: 1149431
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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