Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven 40th anniversary celebration event
November – 8 – 2009
40th anniversary reading of Jane Arden’s play Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven followed by a roundtable discussion at Toynbee Studios with original cast members Sheila Allen and Victor Spinetti, and the production’s director, Jack Bond. Jane Arden’s play was the first British theatre work to come out of the Women’s Liberation Movement when it was staged at Jim Hayne’s Drury Lane Arts Lab in February, 1969.
The event has furnished us with new and exciting documentation relating not only to the work of Jane Arden and the original production of Vagina Rex, but also that of the Arts Lab, Drury Lane, active from 1967-69, one of the pioneering alternative theatre venues that emerged in the late 1960s. Companies and people who produced there include: Steven Berkoff, Nancy Meckler and Freehold, David Hare, Portable Theatre, Brighton Combination, Lindsay Kemp and the People Show. The reading and discussion were recorded by the National Sound Archives and is now available for viewing at the British Library.
The play was read by Janet Behan, Gerard Bell, Alice Fernbank, Chloe Lewis, Nadeam Milward and Isabel Scott Plummer, and directed by Jessica Higgs.
The discussion was chaired by Susan Croft and can be listened to at theatrevoice.com (then click on The Archive and put Vagina Rex in Search box).
Jane Arden films on DVD
July – 14 – 2009
BFI launch of a box set of three films by Jane Arden (1927-1982): Anti-Clock, The Other Side of the Underneath and Separation available on DVD and Blu-ray. Jane Arden, playwright, actress, film director, is mentioned in a number of Unfinished Histories interviews, notably those with Sheila Allen (Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven) and Natasha Morgan (The Other Side of the Underneath) and the BFI used material from those interviews for the box set of films and commissioned Susan Croft to write the essay ‘Chasing Jane’ for the accompanying booklet.
Celebrating Oval House
May – 7 – 2008
An event celebrating the work of Peter Oliver, who ran Oval House from 1961-1974, and Kate Crutchley, the venue’s programmer in the 1980s.
The first half of the evening paid tribute to the life and work of Peter Oliver (1926-2007) through a series of speakers who knew him personally. The second half took the form of a live interview with Kate Crutchley and Susan Croft using video footage from the Unfinished Histories series: Women’s Theatre 1970s and 1980s. The event included an exhibition of material focusing on Unfinished Histories interviewees and their work alongside material on Oval House in the early years and some of the companies who played there. As part of the evening, youth theatre members conducted a series of short interviews with attending audience members, including former youth club members from the early 1960s, and members of experimental companies who worked there at the time, such as Sidewalk Theatre, Lumiere and Son, The Wee Wees and Incubus.
Drill Hall launch
April – 30 – 2008
Launch of the completed Women’s Theatre 1970s and 1980s series of interviews, including a panel discussion with project interviewees, Lily Susan Todd and Eileen Pollock with freelance director Indhu Rubasingham and Lisa Godman, Artistic Director of Soho Theatre, and chaired by Carole Woddis. This was followed by audience discussion on women’s theatre now and then. There was an accompanying exhibition of posters, flyers, photos and scripts relating to the work of the interviewees and the companies and/or venues they worked with or ran. Copies of the series of interviews were officially handed over to the British Library’s National Sound Archives, V&A Theatre Collections and Bristol University Theatre Collections.
Theatre Museum Unfinished Histories
April – 1 – 2006
Inaugural Unfinished Histories event at the Theatre Museum – a live oral history interview with alternative theatre director and founder of Beryl and the Perils, Michele Frankel, followed by a panel discussion with women active in feminist theatre in the 1970s and 1980s. The panel comprised Susie Orbach, Gillian Hanna, Jenny Harris, Sheryl Crown and Michele Frankel reflecting on their early work and examined how their experiences then continue to inform their work now. Susan Croft set up and chaired the event. The discussion is available for viewing at theatrevoice.com (then click on The Archive and put Unfinished Histories in Search box).
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