Eastend Abbreviated Soapbox Theatre

Company Name: Eastend Abbreviated Soapbox Theatre (later known as Soapbox Children’s Theatre)

Founder: Matt Matthews and Jenny Gould

Established: Started in 1972 as part of EAST – a free community advice commune in East Ham, London Borough of Newham. They became a full-time professional company the following year.

Reason: ‘Matt and Jenny felt that Newham was very badly served by any kind of community arts group and a theatre group was an obvious way to try and plug that deficiency.’ British Alternative Directory 1979

Current Status: Matthews and Gould left Soapbox Children’s Theatre in 1988 – the company continued for a year or two after this date

Area of Work: Community and Street Theatre, Political Theatre and Children’s Theatre

Policy: A 1973 ‘manifesto’ explains the group’s philosophy: ‘No admission fees for performances…Working on request and invitation….Staying within one’s own community …. to provide the type of drama the people want, where they want it, in a particular place, when they want it and how they want it…to be non-commercial and non-materialistic’. By 1979 there had been some broadening out of the company’s aims but remain essentially the same: ‘We feel theatre groups should be involved in their local communities. The members of Soapbox Theatre see themselves as community workers in the broadest sense of the expression. We want to perform theatre to the widest possible audience. We want to inform. We want to entertain.’ (British Alternative Directory 1979)

Structure: Initially Matt Matthews was the company’s Artistic Director within a Collective. In 1973 there were five full-time workers but an active group of up to about 20 participants. In 1979: ‘Co-operative structure with weekly meetings ….. 12 members: eight performers, writer, designer / costumier, administrator, artistic director.’ (British Alternative Directory 1979)

Based: East London (Newham)

Funding:  ‘A £500 grant from Newham Arts Council kick-started EAST, from then on the company were extremely effective in securing funding from the GLAA, the Arts Council and other funding such as Home Office Urban Aid, funding for playwright in residence and special project funding. Grants grew incrementally from £12,000 in 1979 through to 1985/6 when the ACGB was £36,000 , GLAA (touring) £12,000  and further local funding from Newham Arts Council local touring arts grant.’ (Itzin 1985)

Performance venues: Alexander Palace, Barking Teachers Centre, Battersea Arts Centre, Central Park East Ham, Centreprise Hackney, Churchill Theatre Bromley, Commonwealth Institute, Coram Fields, Covent Garden Piazza, Drill Hall, Dulwich Park, East Ham Technical College, Eltham Park, Frome Arts Centre, Geoffrye Museum, Glastonbury Fayre, Greenwich Park, Half Moon Theatre, Harlow Playhouse, Hexagon Theatre Reading, ICA Theatre, King’s Hall Hackney, Lamb and Flag Covent Garden, Leicester City Centre, Long House Barking, Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, Monega Arts Centre, National Theatre foyer, Nottingham Miner’s Benefit, North-East London Polytechnic, Oval House, Parliament Hill, Poplar Civic Theatre, Redbridge Drama Centre, Round House, Stage One Stratford, Vauxhall Gardens County Hall London, The Whole Thing Stratford, Toynbee Hall, Victoria Park, Wakefield Tricycle, Warehouse Theatre Rotherhithe, Woolwich Free Ferry Festival, Woolwich Tramshed.
Also community centres, old people’s homes and especially schools – mostly in Newham, Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Tower Hamlets, Essex and Outer London – too numerous to list!

Audiences: ‘Perform to anyone. Audience size varies between 200 in a school to 20 in a community centre…. Basically [we] like a responsive audience, asking questions about the show.’ (British Alternative Directory 1979)


Company work and process

EAST commune
Matt Matthews and Jenny Gould, were running drama workshops in Newham and a summer drama scheme for the Theatre Royal Stratford during 1972. They joined EAST – a commune that provided free advice for the community on a range of issues: legal, health, education, welfare and accommodation – in November when the organisation moved to short-life premises at 103-105 Market Street, East Ham. As well as providing accommodation for communards there was a ‘crash pad’ for the homeless and a meeting place for local groups such as Gingerbread, Newham Friends of the Earth, Gay Liberation Front, Newham Short Life Housing and Grassroots Action Programme. Matthews and Gould ran the commune’s drama group on Fridays at nearby Little Ilford Adult Evening Institute – using their own spin on the EAST acronym – Eastend Abbreviated Soapbox Theatre. The name also made a nod to Roland Muldoon’s West London based agit-prop company, CAST.

Going professional
Rather than create ‘theatre’ for an audience, EAST used improvisation, audience participation and exuberance to engage groups in the creative process itself. They became ‘the most successful and prolific group ever to emerge from the borough [Newham]’ and were regularly encountered at parks; playgrounds; street parties; fairs, ‘old people’s homes’ and hospitals. Matt Matthews presented a detailed proposal to the Newham Arts Council in 1973 that resulted in a £500 grant, enabling Matthews and Gould to devote themselves full-time to the project. Further funding from the GLAA and later the Arts Council enabled expansion to 5 full-time workers  – Matthews, Gould, Terry Allchin, Roger Drury and Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey. They were committed to an ambitious programme: ‘We [will] support or present some drama event each day in our community… No admission fees for performances….Our work is first and foremost for our people not for our own personal gain, ambition or profit.’

Children’s Shows, Agit-Prop and Hackney Pensioners
and The Wild East Show were two typical ‘shows’ that provided loose structures for extended improvisation and audience participation – Strongman has had his voice taken by an evil sorcerer / dragon, will the children help get it back? Olde Tyme Music Hall was presented for OAP groups. Traditional Mummer’s plays provided the structure for a number of agit-prop interventions such as, Robin Hood Vs the M16 Motorway ‘commissioned’ by Newham Friends of the Earth and performed at an Epping Forest motorway protest. EAST’s The Anti-Wedding staged to coincide with Princess Anne’s Wedding – involved recently retired trade union leader Jack Dash and a group of Hackney pensioners to highlight the financial penalties that marrying pensioners invoke – an event that was covered by The Observer. EAST also ran improvisation workshops and presented contemporary plays in community settings such as Why Bournemouth? (John Antrobus) and The Local Stigmatic (Heathcote Williams) with a mix of professional and amateur performers. Recognising the importance of publicity EAST utilised an access slot on Radio London in July 1973 – followed by an LWT community access television programme in 1974. In March 1975 the company were invited, along with Cockpit Theatre, to run a children’s improvisation workshop on the theme of science fiction for the ICA.

Stage One
In 1975 Newham Arts Council planned to develop what would now be called a ‘cultural quarter’ in neglected central Stratford. A disused community building (15/17 Deanery Road E15) was to be refurbished as a multi- purpose arts venue to provide a showcase for local creative groups – poetry, music (classical and folk), theatre and art exhibitions. The name – Stage One – suggested ambitious future plans and the newly decorated building was equipped as a studio theatre with workshop and exhibition spaces. When Stage One opened in April 1975, David Cotton, Newham’s Arts Development Officer, explained the importance of the development: ‘…Newham has often been referred to as a cultural desert – a waste land of bingo halls and redevelopment sites clinging on to London’s cultural scene by its finger tips.’ For the opening festival EAST performed a Mummers play and Peter Nichols A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

Lunch-time theatre
Regular access to a performance space provided new opportunities for the company. A successful bid to the Arts Council of Great Britain for a ‘playwright in residence’ brought Derek Smith to the company in April 1976. Smith had recently had The Athlete performed at Soho Poly theatre. His first year with EAST was paid for by the Arts Council and he stayed with the company for a further two years. The playwriting group that he set up at Stage One provided the company with a new source of original, locally generated material. From the end of 1976 and throughout 1977, EAST ran an ‘almost free’ lunch-time theatre at Stage One where the best plays from the writers’ group were performed by the company. Temporary membership of 10p gave admittance to the play, a sandwich and a drink with a collection taken on exit. Productions were reprised as double-bills on Saturday nights. The repertoire ranged from ‘naturalistic’ social issue plays such as Derek Smith’s The Pigsty to ‘absurdist’ dramas such as Gareth Thomas’s The Platform (‘set in an underground station after a possible nuclear disaster above ground’ Gareth Thomas) and Alan Williamson’s Cleave.

The company evolves
Throughout the ‘Stage One period’ the company’s main work remained in its engagement with the community in non-theatrical settings. In addition to running summer play schemes in local parks, they toured Dr Sticky Strikes Again and Dick Twerpin Rides Again to Newham primary schools. As with much of their work Dr Sticky had evolved out of improvisations with school children polished into a script by Derek Smith and toured to other schools. Street theatre was performed at fairs and festivals such as Sandcastles in Spain that was taken to the Covent Garden Community Festival. A succession of highly talented and quirky performers joined the company at this stage. Patrik Fitzgerald – singer/songwriter and originator of ‘folk-punk’ (Safety-Pin Stuck in My Heart) – worked with them for nine-months and performed in the company devised musical Good-bye Buddy Holly  and in street theatre pieces. Ian Macpherson, an Irish writer and performer who would go on to be very much part of the 80s alternative comedy scene performed and wrote for the company including a collaboration with Derek Smith on homelessness, One for the Road. Macpherson researched the topic by sleeping rough and the documentary material was supported by original songs by Patrik Fitzgerald. One For the Road was taken to the Half Moon Theatre, suggesting a direction that the company’s work could take.

The closing of EAST Advice Service and Stage One
As the company continued to be successful in getting Arts Council grants, the financial relationship between the theatre company EAST and the community advice service – now called East Community Action – became more problematic. Many of the theatre company workers were also working in the unfunded free help and advice centre and the hostel for the homeless, whilst putting on shows and running drama workshops. The Arts Council understandably required transparency in the spending of grant money and at some point the two organisations would need to be separated. In June of 1978 however they were still using shared office space when the premises were subjected to an arson attack. The uninsured theatre company suffered financial losses. With the office gone the community advice centre closed permanently – later to be succeeded by a Newham council funded advice centre – Community Links (still running).

Further disaster for the theatre company was around the corner – EAST had had a row with Newham Arts Council over the sacking of two mural artists. ‘It got very nasty and they [the local arts council] closed Stage One claiming health and safety. Though they were quite happy with the venue before this row’ (Derek Smith). The feeling within the company was that it had been shut as ‘a sort of punishment’ although there were also real issues around the presence of asbestos in the building. After Stage One closed Smith set up Page One Books within The Whole Thing (53 West Ham Lane, Stratford) – a workers co-op consisting of the bookshop, a vegetarian café and with community rooms upstairs – this became an occasional venue for Soapbox productions for a while.

A new direction – Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Fortunately EAST had always maintained their touring role and their principal income came from this work. John Hegley performance poet, comedian, musician and songwriter joined the company in 1979 and provided songs for Gareth Thomas’s satirical The Sensational National Emergency Crisis Election Show performed at the Half Moon Theatre and Centreprise Hackney. A number of core members moved on around this time and with no permanent base or performing venue there was considerable debate within the group as to the way forward. In early 1980 it was decided to concentrate solely on their children’s theatre work. Eastend Abbreviated Soapbox Theatre had always been familiarly known as ‘Soapbox Theatre’ and future publicity made the new focus explicit: ‘Soapbox Children’s Theatre’. In a newsletter Matthews explained ’..we shall cease completely from performing in fringe and specially designated theatre spaces’ – the company also withdrew from broader community projects. Soapbox Children’s Theatre became a 2-tier cooperative with a bona fide Equity wage structure.

Rainbow Warrior, John Hegley and The Good, The Bad and the Banana
An expected sizable Urban Aid grant for summer play schemes had been axed in 1980, but none-the-less the new focus on theatre-in education work was paying off. Jenny Gould wrote, directed and performed in an ecological parable: The Rainbow Warrior with songs by John Hegley and an intensive period of creativity for the company produced four other new shows: There’s No Smoke Without Walter, The Name Game Show, There’s No Case Like Holmes and Julius Sneezer and the Roaming Bath. These Hegley-inspired celebrations of language, music and craziness came with some – usually deeply buried – educational import and the company’s exuberant performance style won over potentially challenging school audiences. As Hegley moved on, and with a company of seven full-time members, Matthews wrote to the Arts Council: ‘We have an average of 8 performances a week …[and] the ability to gain more bookings than is possible for the present company to cope with’. In 1982, through Arts Council special project funding, enabled the company to commission the creation of giant puppets for the biological Inside Story and the street theatre piece The Good, The Bad and the Banana.

The last few years
From this time Matt Matthews’s developing bi-polar disorder was becoming apparent and he needed to take breaks from the company. Throughout 1983 they were running two companies to meet demand but a planned third company was put on hold. Matthews: ‘There is a feeling within the Arts Council that our plans to form a third touring company in April 1984, might have a detrimental effect on our artistic and administrative standards.’ (Soapbox Children’s Theatre newsletter). By the mid-80s Matt had taken a ‘back seat role’ and Jenny was concentrating on play writing under her Equity name Jennifer East. Soapbox performed The Face at the Window – about loneliness in old age; Prisoners of the Pool – raised ecology issues with dancers representing the imprisoned species and Five Copper Coins – about arts in society. The company were now using a dance studio in Maryland Stratford as rehearsal space. With Matt Matthews worsening health he and Jenny Gould left the company completely in 1988. During this difficult period Russell Daymond had been recently directing Soapbox’s productions. Terry Allchin, administrator, was the only member from the original line-up. The company had become more culturally diverse company in the 1980s and their final productions included The Sting in the Tail – a challenging work for secondary school audiences on drug abuse.

ICA children’s drama workshops on the theme of science fiction: ‘Anyone who watches the workshops done by EAST and Cockpit can see the virtues of the event…. EAST had, with a pile of junk and a scenario based on alarm, emergency and terrifying situations stirred up the children’s imaginations and introduced or reinforced some ideas about communicating with people that you cannot understand…as EAST finally demonstrate, science fiction is a perfect way of talking to children about the unfamiliar, the threatening and how to overcome fear of the unknown.’ Hilary Bailey Pity, Terror, Kids, Sci Fi in Times Educational Supplement (March 1975)

Writer: Matt Matthews with ex-offenders from Wormwood Scrubs
Company: Dr. Tony Calaman,
Matt Matthews
Performed by EAST with various casts including: Matt Matthews, Jenny Gould, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey and Roger Drury
Outdoor touring children’s show1972-3
The Wild East Show!
Company devised.
Music: Nick Pickett
Company: Matt Matthews, Jenny Gould, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Vince Moon, Geoff Sullivan (aka Jeff Innocent), Frances Alexander
Outdoor touring children’s show: Newham Town Show,Tower Hamlets Play Scheme1972, 1973
The Anti-Wedding
Company: Matt Matthews, Jenny Gould, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Vince Moon, Roger Drury, Hackney pensioners and special guest, recently retired Trade Union leader, Jack Dash
The King’s Hall Hackney Public Baths November 1973
Robin Hood Vs the M16 Motorway
Writer: Jenny Gould
Company: Paul Stevens, George Walton, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Geoff Sullivan (aka Jeff Innocent), Frances Alexander, Vince Moon, Terry Allchin, Matt Matthews and Jenny Gould
Outdoor agit-prop at Epping Forest, Stratford shopping centre Sept 1974 (Epping Forest), May 1975 (Stage One)
Why Bournemouth?
Writer: John Antrobus
Cast: Paul Stevens, Sue Cook, Andrea 'Sandy' Harvey, Roger Drury, Terry Allchin, Matt Matthews
Monega Road Drama Centre, East Ham Technical College, Stage One StratfordNov 1974, 1975 (Stage One)
Tortoise and the Hare
Company: Soapbox Theatre workshop
Friends of the Earth demonstration Bike Rally County Hall
15 June 1975
The Battle of Claimants’ Creek
Company: Terry Allchin, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Anita Martin, Stephen Murray and baby Natalie Outdoor agit-prop for Claimant’s Union
DHSS Elephant and Castle 1975
St.George and the Black Moroccan Prince also
St.George and the Dragon
Company: Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Roger Drury, Steve Murray, Margaret Bellavoine, Vince Moon, Terry Allchin, Oliver Millington.
Cathall Road Children’s Playground Leytonstone, Stage One Newham, Leicester
Do You Remember the Thirties?
Company: Jenny Gould, Terry Allchin, Geoff Pirie, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, George Walton
Music: John Walton
Science Fiction Improvisational Workshop
Company: Roger Drury, Vince Moon, Matt Matthews, Jenny Gould and Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey
ICA Mar1975
What Would You Do?
Company: Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey
Commonwealth Institute (Oxfam project)1976
The Silvertown Disaster
EAST with Newham’s Schools Drama Team
Writer: Gerard ‘Ged’ Melia
Music: Ken Bolam
Company: Jenny Gould, Terry Allchin, Vince Moon, Matt Matthews, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Roz Kane
Newham schoolsc.1976
How Sparks Learn to Fly
+ Ice
Writer: Derek Smith
Stage One, North-East London Polytechnic, Warehouse Theatre Rotherhithe, Oval HouseOct 1976
The Ragged Trousered Man
Writer: Barry Ivory
Cast included Anni Yannik
Stage One Stratford, North-East London Polytechnic
Nov 1976
The Music of Disharmony
Writer: Alan Williamson
Stage One Stratford
Impressions of the General Strike
Writer: Derek Smith
The Saddest Woman in the WorldPoplar Civic TheatreDec 1976
Strongman Rules OK! and
Strongman & Sleepyman
Director: Matt Matthews
Company: Terry Allchin, Vince Moon, Steven Murray, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Steven Murray, Anita Martin, George Walton, Paul Waller
Poplar Civic Theatre, Stage One StratfordJan-Feb 1977
The Rebound
Writer: Arthur Horsley
Company: Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Steven Murray, George Walton, Anita Martin and Terry Allchin
Stage One Stratford (lunch-time theatre)10-11 Feb 1977
The Pigsty
Writer: Derek Smith
Cast: Terry Allchin, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Jenny Gould, Terry Allchin, Paul Waller
Stage One Stratford (lunch-time theatre)24-25 Feb 1977
Cleave Writer: Alan Williamson
Company: Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Ian Macpherson, Paul Waller, Anita Martin
Stage One Stratford (lunch-time theatre)11-12 Mar 1977
Good-bye Buddy Holly
Company devised.
Company: Ian Macpherson, Patrik Fitzgerald, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Paul Waller, Anita Martin and ‘Anst’
Stage One Stratford (lunch-time and evening)Feb – Mar 1977
One For the Road
Writers: Derek Smith and Ian Macpherson
Director: Matt Matthews
Music: Paul Waller and Patrik Fitzgerald
Design: Emma Aldridge
Cast: Paul Waller, Anita Martin, George Walton, Terry Allchin, Ian Macpherson, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Roz Kane, John Rawlinson.
Lighting: Steve Murray
Half Moon Theatre and touringHalf Moon Theatre and touring
The Athlete
Writer: Derek Smith
Cast: Ian Macpherson, Terry Allchin and Paul Waller
Later cast: Silas Goulding (aka Tony Green), George Kane (aka Walton) and John Hegley
Stage One Stratford (lunch-time and evening), The Whole Thing StratfordMay 1977 (Stage One) revived Nov 1979 (The Whole Thing)
Sandcastles in Spain (aka Sammy Connor’s Company Holiday Package Company)
Company: Paul Waller, Patrik Fitzgerald, Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, John Rawlinson and ‘Anst’
Street theatre tour including Leicester City Centre and play schemes also Covent Garden Community Festival (filmed for Thames Television)Summer 1977
Mutiny on the Bounty
(also see 1983-85)
Company included Ian Macpherson, Paul Waller and ‘Anst’
Toynbee Hall, Central Park East Ham, little Ilford Park, Woman Victims’ Aid Bazaar Southend, Woolwich Free Ferry Festival, Alexandra Palace, The People’s Jubilee Hainault, HarlowAug 1977
Widespread Ground Frost
Writer: Barry Ivory
Company: Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, Anni Yannik, Terry Allchin
Stage One StratfordOct 1977
Sing No Sad Song
Writer: Tom Gee
Cast included George Walton
10-14 Oct 1977
The Platform
Writer: Gareth Thomas
Stage One Stratford1977
Dr. Sticky Strikes Again
Writer: Derek Smith & the company.
Company: Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey, George Walton, Tony Green, Emma Aldridge, Roger Drury, Anni Yannik
Primary Schools including Roman Rd Infants, New City School, Churchmead Infants, Star Lane Junior School, Drill HallFeb – Mar 1978, Apr 1978 (Drill Hall?)
A Tall Storey
Writers: Derek Smith, and Jeff Thompson
Music: Sue Gould
Company included Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey and Anni Yannik
East end tour – including Eagle and Child Woodgrange Road, Nightingale School, Redbridge Jewish Youth Centre, Barking Drama Centre, Tramshed Woolwich, the Longhouse Barking, Tamar Club Woodford Green, Leyton’ Boy’s School, Centreprise HackneyMar - May 1978
Just the Job
Writers: George Kane (aka Walton) and Andrea ‘Sandy’ Harvey
The Whole Thing, Stratford 1978
Halfway House
Writer: Derek Smith
Company: Sue Gould, George Kane (aka Walton), Terry Earl (aka Allchin), Anne Percival (aka Edyvean), Anni Yannik, Silas Goulding (aka Tony Green)
Methodist Church Hall Bryant St. Stratford, Centreprise Hackney, Barking Teachers Centre, North East London Polytechnic, The Whole Thing StratfordOct 1978 (Stratford) and Jan 1979
Dick Twerpin Rides Again
Music: Sue Gould
Company: Sue Gould, Anni Yannik, Tony Green
Primary Schoolsc.1978
Writer: Derek Smith
Birdmen Arise
Writer: Gareth Thomas
Lamb and Flag Lunch-time Theatre, Covent GardenJul 1978
Professor Clevernut’s Magic Book
Company: Terry Allchin, Anni Yannik and Tony Green
St. John the Baptist School E2Dec 1978 – Jan 1979
The Sensational National Emergency Crisis Election Show
Writer: Gareth Thomas
Company: Jenny Gould, John Hegley, Tony Green, Terry Allchin, Anne Edyvean and Vince Moon
Music: Eileen Dixon
Half Moon Theatre, Centreprise Community CentreMar 1979 (Half Moon), Apr 1979 (Centreprise)
There’s No Smoke Without Walter
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Company included Tony Green and John Hegley.
Touring show (5-11s) including Cockpit Theatre, Toynbee Hall, Brycox Arts Workshop New Maldon SurreyAug 1979 (Toynbee), Sept 1979 (Cockpit) , 5 Jan 1980 (Brycox) also July 1984
The Rainbow Warrior
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Director: Jenny Gould
Songs: John Hegley
Company: John Hegley, Jenny Gould, Anne Edyvean, George Walton, Emily Thwaite
Late company included Elizabeth Shirley
Touring show including Redbridge Drama CentreFeb-Apr 1980 and May 1981(Redbridge)
The Road Safety ShowTouring show for primary schoolsMay-July 1980
There’s No Case Like Holmes
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Company: John Hegley, Jenny Gould, George Walton, Emily Thwaite
Also company: Andrea ‘Sandie’ Harvey, Anne Edyvean and Sara Richardson
Touring show – including Coram Fields, Harlow Playhouse, Eltham Park, Parliament Hill, Dulwich Park1980 (Coram Fields), May 1981 (Harlow), August 1982 (Eltham etc)
Job Mate
Writer: Elizabeth Shirley and the company
Company: Jenny Gould, Elizabeth Shirley, Terry Allchin, John Spence
Capitol Radio sponsored touring show on youth unemploymentc. 1981
The Name Game Show
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Music: John Hegley
Company: John Hegley, Matt Matthews, Emily Thwaite
Touring show (for under 6s), The Whole Thing Stratford, Durling Hall Forest Gate, St. Michaels Hall Manor Park, Women Against the Tories creche Islington, Church Hill E17, Cubbitt TownApr (Stratford), May 1981 (Islington), Jun 1981
Julius Sneezer and the Roaming Bath
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Company included Terry Allchin and Emily Thwaite
Touring show including North Kensington Amnesty TrustSept 1981 (Amnesty)
The Inside Story
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Director: Matt Matthews
Music: Mary Phillips
Company: Jenny Gould, Emily Thwaite, Terry Allchin, Mary Phillips
Touring show (for 7-11s) including Round House and ILEA TV centre, Kingsgate SchoolJun 1982 (Round House & ILEA), Jan 1983 (Kingsgate)
When the Balloon Went Up
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Writer: Jenny Gould
Director: Matt Matthews
Company: George Walton, Emily Thwaite and Jonathan Meres
Touring show - ‘Britain and Channel Islands in over 250 playgroups, Nursery & Infant schools’ including St. Mary’s primary School W14Sept 1982, Nov 1982 (St. Mary’s) and 1983
The Good, The Bad and the Banana
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Writer: Ian Macpherson
Company: Martin Wheeler, Ian Macpherson, Mary Phillips, George Walton, Jenny Gould
Company also: Mary Bryden, Martin Webber, Terry Allchin and Karen ?
Street theatre including Covent Garden, Geoffrye Museum Gardens, Debden Camp Site, Rougham Fair East AngliaAug 1982 - 1983
The Tooth, The Whole Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Writer: Jenny Gould
Director: Matt Matthews
Company: Jonathan Meres, Martin Wheeler and Fiona ?
Touring show Nov 1983
Mutiny on the Bounty
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Director: Matt Matthews
Company: Antonia Kemi Coker, Simon ?, Paul ?, Emily Thwaite
Touring show (5-11’s), Miner’s strike event Nottingham, Battersea Arts Centre, Old Town Hall Arts Centre Hemel Hampstead(previously presented as outdoor theatre in 1977) 1983/84/ Feb 85 (Battersea)
The Face at the Window
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Writer: Jenny Gould
Company: Emily Thwaite, Richard Haighton, Antonia Kemi Coker, Jenny Gould / Louise ?
Touring show Aug 1984
When the Balloon Went Down Under
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Writer: Jenny Gould
Director: Matt Matthews
Company: Jonathan Meres, Emily Thwaite, Antonia Kemi Coker
Touring show including Parliament Hill16 Aug 1984 (Parliament Hill)
Pass the Parcel
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Writer: Jenny Gould
Company: Jonathan Meres, Richard Haighton
Touring show (under 6’s)1984/85
Prisoners of the Pool
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Writer: Jenny Gould
Director: Jenny Gould
Company: Roger Griffiths, Richard Haighton, Fiona ?, Judith Phillips, Michael Buffong, Russell Daymond.
Touring show (6-9’s)1984/85
Ten Copper Coins
Soapbox Children’s Theatre Writer: Jenny Gould (aka Jenny East)
Company: Tracy Russell, Russell Daymond, Tina McCrea, David Annen, Richard Haighton
Touring show 1984/85?
Galactic Misadventures of the Worst Kind
Soapbox Children’s Theatre Writer: Richard Haighton
Company included Russell Daymond
Touring show1984/85
Soapbox Children’s Theatre with Maureen Garth of Havering Drama Team
Company: Terry Allchin, Jenny Gould, Richard Haighton and George Walton
London Borough of Havering c.1985
Florence Nightingale
Soapbox Children’s Theatre with Newham’s Schools Drama Team
Writer: Ged Melia
Director: Russell Daymond
Company: Judith Phillips, Russell Daymond and Richard Haighton
Sting in the Tail
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Company: Richard Haighton, Tina McCrea, Tracy Russell and David Annen
Touring Newham schools including Plashet SchoolMar1987
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Writer: Jenny Gould
Company: Richard Haighton, Russell Daymond, Karen Jones, Syreeta Kumar, Gina Powys
Look At Us Now!
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Company: Terry Allchin, Russell Daymond, Karen Jones, Syreeta Kumar, Gina Powys
Three Strands
Soapbox Children’s Theatre
Company: Karen Jones, Syreeta Kumar, Gina Powys
Unicorn Theatre, Riverside Studios1988

Interviewee reference:

Existing archival material: Jenny Matthews Collection, Eastend Abbreviated Soapbox Theatre / Arts Council Archive at V & A Theatre Museum Archive ACGB/34/42


Soapbox Goes Pro Newham Arts Council The Arts in Newham ( March 1973)
And Pensioners Troth Their Plight Mary Holland The Observer (Nov 1973)
Art Scene Newham Arts Council What’s On in Newham (Nov 1974)
Pity, Terror, Kids, Sci Fi
Hilary Bailey Times Educational Supplement (March 1975)
Festival Launches New Arts Centre London Borough of Newham Newham Today (April 1975)
British Alternative Directory 1979
, Catherine Itzin ed. (Eyre Methuen, 1979)
British Alternative Directory 1980
, Catherine Itzin ed. (Eyre Methuen, 1980)
British Alternative Directory 1981
, Catherine Itzin ed. (Eyre Methuen, 1981)
British Alternative Directory 1982, Catherine Itzin ed. (Eyre Methuen, 1982)
British Alternative Directory 1983/ 84
, Catherine Itzin ed. (Eyre Methuen, 1983)
British Alternative Directory 1985/ 86
, Catherine Itzin ed. (Eyre Methuen, 1985)
Letters and newsletters from Matt Matthews to the Arts Council referenced  in the text are in Eastend Abbreviated Soapbox Theatre / Arts Council Archive at V & A Theatre Museum Archive

Links:  Matt Matthews

Acknowledgements: This page was written by David Cleall with thanks to Jenny Matthews (née Gould), Derek Smith and Gareth Thomas.