The 1976 season of plays at the ICA:
Indiscreet by Roger Baker and Drew Griffiths. This was a follow up to Mister X and was devised by the same group of performers. The play focused on the lives of gay men and women in a repressive society to show that they were central to the anti-fascist struggle.
Any Woman Can by Jill Posener. A first-person account of ‘coming-out’ as a lesbian. The company’s first lesbian play.
Stone by Edward Bond. Premiered at the ICA, the stone in the play is symbolic of the burden that the oppressed carry around with them. It had no explicit mention of homosexuality but was written at the invitation of Gay Sweatshop.
The Fork by Ian Brown. The interactions of a landlady, her lodger and their various sexual and social visitors.
Randy Robinson’s Unsuitable Relationship by Andrew Davies.
‘We went to meet the men that were Gay Sweatshop and they said would you be the Women’s Company and they had a bit of money to do it at the ICA and in fact, overall we were 5 months at the ICA doing Lunchtime theatre. It was very good of them to do that, they were a group of people that really believed that it was important. And then we started to attract funding. We did half a dozen plays, I did one by Andrew Davies, another one was Martin Sherman. It was all people like Drew Griffiths and Gerald Chapman.’ ‘I came out at the ICA thing, I came out to the audience which was inevitable. Everyone thought I was with Jill [Posener], who was this kid. When I actually I was with Mary [Moore], who was the designer, and we were together for years and years and years.’ Kate Crutchley
‘It was a big leap into the world of.. eyes were opened. You realised that there was a whole issue of authenticity. Kate wanted to cast really good performers in it who were not necessarily gay. The audience wouldn’t have a truck with that, we realised after a while that that wasn’t on, the audience who came to see the Gay Sweatshop season wanted to see good theatre, but they actually wanted to see the representation of themselves by gay performers. So we learnt as we went along, about how open we should be… Kate was working at Bolton [Octagon Theatre] and she decided to do a reading of the play up there [Any Woman Can], and I don’t know whether she’s told you about this, but I know that there was somebody in that cast up there that said, ‘I’m not doing it, I don’t want my father to see me doing that’. So there was a lot of women who felt that they couldn’t be that open, because there was a whole notion of how you learn how to be secret, because it’s not in your best interest not to be secret. The law doesn’t allow certain things at certain times.’ Mary Moore
‘There were a couple of pieces that were written by straight men. Randy Robinson’s was one of them and Stone was written by Edward Bond. Randy Robinson’s was initiated really by Kate, she had worked with Andrew Davies, who was a radio writer and had written lots of plays, which the character she played, he always wanted her to play this character. He wrote three or four plays for radio in which she was the central character in them, terrific pieces and very funny. So she commissioned him through Gay Sweatshop to write this piece, of course not being gay but he wrote this piece that was about oppression, and kids at school and oppression. And the other pieces that Gerald Chapman had initiated was again to ask Edward to write a piece, and that was Stone, again about oppression and it was a bit divisive because some people thought that Gay Sweatshop had gone a bit mainstream doing that, by getting Edward Bond doing it. He wasn’t a name then, he’d just done radio, he hadn’t done his big television stuff. People might have been a bit critical because Gay Sweatshop had sought a straight guy to write a play.’ Mary Moore