Noel Greig Topics List

Noel Greig Topics List taken from his interview with Susan Croft, July and August 2008,
recorded by Jessica Higgs
Video and audio extracts edited by Jessica Higgs

Personal background and beginnings
Born Skegness
Father seaside entertainer – percussionist & comedian
on end of pier, ‘Skegness Follies’
Mother worked in Marks & Spencer
Lived on council estate , edge of Skegness.
Attended local Grammar school
Two influential teachers, Trevor John, history teacher, who taught him how
to think, Trevor Leigh, English teacher, who taught him the value of the word
Kings College, London in 1963, reading history
Studying in London at height of swinging 60’s – RSC at Aldwych – Peter Daubigny’s International Season,
Olivier [Laurence] at Old Vic, ROH, foreign films, art cinemas, music, Beatles, Dylan at Albert Hall
Joined University Drama Society – acting & directing Pinter, Genet, Williams, Ibsen
Lived all over London, ending up Hampstead Village on scholarship of £300 per year

Chose to study in London as he knew there were going to be other ‘homosexual’ people there
Secret in Skegness
Growing up identifying personal sexuality, 1963 centrefold spread
Daily Mirror,  ‘How to spot a queer’- a step by step guide
Anger at past and present attitudes to homosexuals
Homosexual scene in London
Gay men in Drama Society, semi-open and despised
Pubs, covert sexual encounters, illegal, shunned and a terrible thing to be

After Graduation
1966 went into theatre
Harrogate twice-weekly Rep and Oldham weekly Rep as Acting Stage
Manager. Fantastic apprenticeship, Agatha Christie to Tennessee Williams
Not for him, spent two summers as usher at Stratford
Saw War of the Roses, [David] Warner’s Hamlet

Beginnings of alternative theatre
Little Theatre in St Martin’s Lane run by a woman, 1967
Unity Theatre, Royal Court – nearest oppositional work in main stream
People Show (1966), Red Ladder (1966), London Arts Lab (1967)
Beginnings of politicisation, Civil Rights, Anti-Vietnam
New music from San Francisco

Formation of Brighton Combination
Friends from university – Jenny Harris (JH) and Ruth Marks [RM]
Had seen new work at Edinburgh Festival in 1965/66, Traverse, Happenings
Talked about doing something on their own
Inspired by Drury Lane Arts Lab under Jim Haynes – ambiance, ethos, what is was and how it worked
Arts Lab Drury Lane description
A place where things happened all around the clock, film, theatre, poetry
Ramshackle place where you didn’t know the rules, drugs and heterosexual
They [NG, JH, RM] decided to open something similar in Brighton – the nearest place to San Francisco in England
An Old Victorian school house off West Street

Brighton Combination description:
Converted building
They signed on
Large room became theatre + smaller spaces
Income came from café, disco, film, poetry readings
Collected groups of people to join
They were attempting to find a context for theatre to happen that wasn’t in a conventional space: plays at heart of it

Beginnings of Combination
He’d seen group of ex-Cambridge students perform (at Little Theatre)
a play by Howard Brenton, Sky Blue Life, a couple of plays by Grillo and one by Richard Crane
Noel asked the company to Brighton to do Michael Almaz’s Rasputin Show
Got national attention
Became friendly with locally-based reviewer, Jack Tinker
Interest from London, play transferred to Arts Theatre
Brighton Combination was first alternative/fringe theatre company that had its own building with own ensemble
Howard Brenton joined company
Combination name – early term for union

Students, that generation’s counter-culture, wide range
White, different classes, age, education, of the Left
How it worked
On the whole collectively led by the three, he did theatre, JH admin
Collective group of theatre makers
RM, possible reasons for leaving
She became General Manager of Hampstead Theatre and then Arts Council Officer [died 1985]
Working day
Go in at 8am to prepare food, rehearse, do play, reconfigure space
(one of first Black Boxes) for film showing, reconfigure again for disco,
Light show till 3am, few joints, bed, get up and do it all again
Radical plays – Cuba, British Police etc. Cuban play Rise & Fall of
Tony Banana
about revolution in Cuba, toured during 1968 university ‘sit ins’
Funded by dole and the café
Arts Council funding for Brenton to be resident playwright
Sexuality absent from work and agenda
Work deeply involved with Left alternative culture
Women strong on agenda at Combination
Unusually run by two women and a gay man
Elyse Dodgson, an early member

Two companies: 68-70 and 70-72
How work was made and some examples
The National Assistance Board (NAB) Play, in Joan Littlewood mould, looking at
social security, toured nationally to claimants unions
Razzle Dazzle – about the Police which he co-wrote with John Turner
Work was publicised by word of mouth, bush telegraph, Left publications
People came to Brighton from all over
Disagreements and taking back of control
More about The NAB play – reworking of The Wasps by Aristophanes
First Arts Council Grant

FACOP – a group pushing Arts Council to fund new work
Arts Labs in Birmingham, Edinburgh
Combination, Jenny Lee, Arts Minister, supported the funding
Ongoing fight to stop Combination being taken over by students and skinheads – change in times, 60’s counter-culture was over
Theatre becoming more specific and wanting to reach people whose lives were affected by the politics of the time
NAB show took them further a field to those audiences

The Don’t Come Show, group devised, description – a critique of where theatre was
Began conventionally and then degenerated to mayhem, a radical
Punch and Judy, David Hare said it was the quintessential 60s play

Portable Theatre and other touring companies
Hare got involved with Portable [Theatre] who brought their first production to Brighton – Brenton play Christie in Love
Touring theatre would come – Wherehouse, Freehold, Nancy Meckler
People Show had their home there for a while, Roland Miller, Mike Figgis, Mark Long, Laura [Gilbert]
Venue capacity: 60
Few photos, nothing recorded
Company limited by Guarantee with Charitable Status

Move to Deptford
Experience of touring to working class audiences got them thinking
Performed at the Albany, Deptford
Guardian advertisement for two arts workers
He and JH applied with a deal to bring in their own company
Transferred whole ethos and structure from Brighton to Albany
Company members at that time included: John Turner, Tina Jones, Marcel Steiner
Arts Council grant shifted from Brighton to London
Brighton formally closed and moved to Deptford in 1971

The Albany, Deptford
Old fortress-like Victorian building
Was a community centre in very deprived area, originally a hostel for the local gut girls who worked in slaughterhouses
Big central hall for meals and religious services
First work was in different parts of the building
Street Theatre, Youth Projects
Director was Paul (?) and it had a staff and team
Paul initiated idea of it as an arts venue, advertisement included third person for visual arts work
Sue Leader took that

It was in the manner of Great George’s project in Liverpool (George and Wendy Harper) and Oval House in London (Peter Oliver)
Company became Deptford-based rather than touring
Work with young people and pensioners
Brought in other companies
Set up a youth theatre, made links with the community which was white working class
Area deprived as a result of the docks closures
Margaret MacMillan College set up by early twentieth century educationalist
St Paul’s Church (Wren) run by Father Diamond, community and social worker who made his church available to young people
Very local, no high culture and in contrast to Greenwich just over the hill

Emerging sexual self and gay scene
Noel didn’t stay too long at Albany
Began attending Gay Liberation Front (GLF) meetings in the early 1970s fleeing a widening gap between his work and sexuality
Had a breakdown because of this mismatch (no gay theatre then)
GLF gatherings in parks doing theatrical type things, picnics
First GLF meeting at LSE [London School of Economics] in 1970, attended by Noel
GLF pretty male, meetings, extraordinary and volatile

Next work stage
Didn’t see it possible for him to be a writer with his background
Thought writers went to Oxbridge – Hare, Brenton
Still living in Brighton, was asked to do work at Inter-Action (1972)
Directed the Fun Art Bus – theatre at the top of a double decker bus,
cinema at bottom, drove around London stopping at bus stops picking up people for an hour

Commune, collective in Kentish Town, lived together and ate in own soup kitchen
Dogg’s Troupe, Noel didn’t join commune
[Inter-Action]S tarted  same time as Brighton Combination
Company included: Naftali Yavin, a talented Israeli director who died in the 70s, Jim Hiley, Patrick Barlow who were directors, Ros Asquith was around

Significance of Jim Haynes, Charles Marowitz and Ed Berman
Ed Berman, mixture of Groucho Marx and Stalin, description of him – visionary, Jim Haynes set up and ran the Arts Lab in Drury Lane and the Traverse in Edinburgh previously
Almost Free [Ed Berman], 1973 maybe in Rupert Street
Lunchtime theatre, provided a platform for seasons of plays – women, Black theatre and then homosexual season that gave birth to Gay Sweatshop in 1975

Bradford and The General Will
Richard Crane from Brighton Combination had become a fellow at Bradford University, invited Noel to direct students in The Erphingham Camp (1973)
Stayed in a house that was shared by David Edgar who had set up The General Will to do his plays, classic agit-prop theatre company
Noel was asked to direct next play The Prison Show as David Edgar was off researching his play about the National Front, Destiny.
The Prison Show was designed to tour to ex-offenders
Company included Brian Hibbard, lead singer of Flying Pickets – 4 men inc. NG, 1 woman
Then Dunkirk Spirit by David Edgar,  followed by devising own work, toured Labour Clubs, TU meetings, Community and Arts Centres
doing classical agit-prop. Political cabaret shows in pubs
Very end of the pier but very political, tone changed when Noel began directing, less diagrammatic work
Company had no sexual politics, no feminist or homosexual debate
Loved the work but still the same gap for him between work and personal life

GLF had begun in Bradford but unlike London was working class-based
Noel became involved with it, very dynamic and radical
Political work with working class people who were dykes and queers
Noel formed a lesbian and gay GLF theatre company
Developed a piece about homosexuality and psychiatric profession called All Het Up
This was before Gay Sweatshop
Big play with large cast (30) – most significant thing he’s ever done. Conference at Bradford University that they stopped, Bradford focal point of radical lesbian and gay politics in UK then
All Het Up was devised by Noel: description of piece: narrative of a family where one family member found himself in the psychiatric gulag, piece was a critique of that profession and its attitude towards homosexuality
Brechtian/Joan Littlewood style, songs, music, scenes & narrative taken from those involved in it

Conflict with The General Will
The old General Will was beginning to implode as its nature and structure was reflecting less the new politics outside
The new voices – Black, Asian, Lesbian, Gay etc not represented
Noel’s suggested that The General Will hand over their funding to the lesbian and gay community in Bradford, they [General Will] said no, description of what ensued leading up to Noel coming out of character mid-performance to address an audience about the issue
Performance was a benefit for the International Socialists. The show was stopped –  speeches and a brawl, Leftwing theatre of the period was horrified

General Will handing over power
How The General Will came to hand over power
Reconstituted itself to give support to anyone in the community who wanted to draw on their  experience, a facilitating body, Noel stayed on as animateur.
Didn’t do too many more shows
Present Your Briefs – a Gay and Lesbian show on law
All Worked Up about gay people at work
Bradford Women’s group did I Just Don’t Like Apples
There was a show on colonialism with Irish & Black people

Gay Sweatshop
Gay Sweatshop began same time as All Het Up, they brought their first show Mr X to Bradford University
Anecdote of Sweatshop coming to Bradford and negative reaction to their visit from NG and his friends
Explanation and reasons for leaving Bradford

Return to London, May Days & Gay Sweatshop plays
May Days theatre company invited him in 1977 to do Ubu Roi in Jubilee Year, a punk version called Jubu Lubu
Drew Griffiths invited him to join Gay Sweatshop
Gay Sweatshop formed as a result of the Almost Free season of homosexual
plays there in the early 1970s
First two shows were Mr X (Men’s company) and Any Woman Can
(Women’s company), groundbreaking work

As Time Goes By
Co-written by Drew Griffiths and NG for Gay Sweatshop
A history of gay men, great success, toured, Edinburgh Festival and ICA with national press coverage
Nick de Jongh never liked Sweatshop work
Working relationship with Drew Griffiths

Only Connect. TV play about Edward Carpenter with Joseph Campbell, Sam Dale and Karl Johnson
Drew’s growing ill health, breakdown and death
Description of Drew Griffiths
The Dear Love of Comrades. Sweatshop play that NG wrote alone, based on life and loves of Edward Carpenter,
a bourgeois man from Brighton who ended up living in a commune in Sheffield, having relationships with working class men
NG went to archives in Sheffield reading letters between Carpenter and his lovers

Other Sweatshop shows
Iceberg co-written with Angela Stewart Park, a play about fascism
Blood Green another collaboration with Angela which didn’t work
Tried to rescue some of the Gay Sweatshop archive after Drew’s death.

Gay Sweatshop cont. and Poppies
1983, about to do Poppies
Joined Gay Sweatshop soon after it had started
Constituted as a men’s and women’s company
As Time Goes By and Dear Love of Comrades written for men’s company. Women doing their own work, some links though
Joined forces to do political satire Iceberg (1978)
Rock Against Racism had started & show was about fascism now and then
1980s – huge round of Arts Council cuts, Gay Sweatshop lost revenue funding
Company went dormant for year and a half. Sense it wouldn’t continue – papers stored in NG’s bedroom
NG wrote play in response to Cold War and militarism, produced under Gay Sweatshop banner
He raised funding for the project & restarted Gay Sweatshop with Poppies. New span of life for Sweatshop (1983), toured the country, Greenham Common benefits +
Poppies – working process and writing it, Gay characters at heart of narrative Set on Parliament Hill, looked back to 1939 and was set in 1980s, flashbacks About attitudes to war & militarism & position of gay men in those debates
Produced also in Australia, director, Robyn Archer, change of title
Done around world, 1st British production directed by Noel, 2nd by Philip Osment (1985)
Philip Osment joined company in 1977 as actor in As Time Goes By

Running of Gay Sweatshop
It was run variously at different times in its history
When he was there, as a management group led by him, operated collectively with leadership within it
Key figures during NG/Drew Griffiths time – Philip Osment.
In 1983 – NG, Kate Owen, Philip Osment, Philip Timmins, Tierl Thompson (admin). Shambolic seemingly, but it worked. When NG left Arts Council wanted it [G Sweatshop] to have an Artistic Director. Once company started having Artistic Directors things changed, not necessarily for the best.

Nancy Diuguid
Her last work at Sweatshop was directing Dear Love of Comrades
Nancy – great spirit, working with her on Dear Love, it kickstarted a good relationship between them
Also worked on Angels Ascending on Paris for Albany year after Dear Love

Gay Sweatshop work
Gay Sweatshop was a new writing company dealing with subjects which
had matters of interest to the public
Dear Love of Comrades  – about Labour Party but had lesbian and gay relationships at heart of narrative
Dear Love was followed by Gay Sweatshop x Ten – encouraging a new generation of lesbian and gay writers
Mr X and Any Woman Can were offered to new writers, who were asked to respond to them 10 years on
Festival at Drill Hall where plays were read, NG worked as dramateug
Plays submitted and read:
A Quiet End  [Robin Swados] – Aids play, read at Drill Hall and produced at Off Stage
Downstairs in Camden
GLC funded festival
Seven Seas by Adele Salem
Compromised Immunity – Andy Kirby, British- Aids plays were pre Normal Heart and As Is, therefore work at forefront of British response to Aids,
How HIV and Aids affected him
All seemed a bit unfair coming so soon after Stonewall and establishment of lesbian and gay movement. Horrid, especially at height, with everyone dying and gays being blamed for it all
First tour of Poppies in 1983, company had bad times on tour, centre spread in Daily Mirror – anti gay
People being wary of being around gay people

Gay Sweatshop on tour
Always ‘incidents’ on Sweatshop tours
Dear Love of Comrades in Birmingham, attacked on way to club
Refused accommodation at B&Bs
Dealt with it as part of the deal of being with company
Iceberg, political cabaret in Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley’s party organised
a torch lit parade on venue, Sweatshop had to have bouncers to protect them
SUS ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ coined about Gay Sweatshop’s visit
Police response was good, Sweatshop was respected as a new writing company touring the country and internationally

Gerald Chapman
Gerald Chapman working in New York with youth groups when he died of aids
Noel joined Sweatshop soon after it was founded, tiny world of lesbians and gays doing theatre
Gerald was a founder and involved in setting up Homosexual Acts at the Almost Free with Mr X and Any Woman Can
Gerald left soon after to Royal Court and run the youth theatre program there very successfully, he took all ideas and philosophies to New York and worked with youths there
Key person in creation of lesbian and gay theatre & taking it out into young people’s work, many gay practitioners have gone off to work in youth theatre

Kate Owen and women in Sweatshop
Key Sweatshop person then, creative abilities and politics
Team at time quite male dominated
Tenacious about type of work company should be doing and direction they should be taking
Designer on Poppies and part of management team in all male company Company became more mixed but still women-only shows like Raising the Wreck by Sue Frumin

Christopher Marlowe and the Albany
Wrote The Death of Christopher Marlowe around that time
He and Philip Osment had done projects at Rose Bruford, Philip worked with year who went on to form their own company Past Imperfect, to do NG’s play They raised funding and produced it, opening at St Paul’s Church, Deptford, courtesy of Father Diamond
Social worker, opening up crypt for gay discos
Play went on tour from there
NG had retained links with Albany, Gay Sweatshop opened a lot of their plays there, and he had written a number of plays for them – Christmas show Heroes and Angels Descending on Paris (1980) directed by Nancy Diuguid, set in Paris during the German occupation, Kate Crutchley was in it, number of lesbian and gay characters at heart of narrative

The Left and the Erotic
Wrote article for this collection in 1983, alongside Angela Carter, about politics of sexuality at that time
Discovery of Edward Carpenter and utopian socialist movement, embracing feminism and different sexualities had huge affect on him
Ongoing interest in history as he is historian by training
Extraordinary oxymoron of period – time of utopian dream versus restraints of Thatcher’s politics, dismantling of huge spider’s web of touring theatre companies and artists

Affect of times on him personally
Clause 28, HIV/Aids, grim decade
Started with Falklands, Miners strike, Aids, Cold War & ended with Gulf War Terrible divides between poor and wealthy, Cardboard city
Took his feelings into his creative work

Rainbows Ending and other plays
Rainbows Ending, written for Tricycle Youth Theatre, Cold War, myth play
His most successful play, done all over the world, always a production on
In mid 80s he began discovering world of young people’s theatre
Wrote 2 plays for the Trike’s [Tricycle’s] Youth Theatre, Rainbows Ending and Do We Ever See Grace?
Living in Kilburn at time

Spinning a Yarn with Double Exposure
It was their company policy to bring together disabled artists with other practitioners to create new work
Disability arts was another area opening up at that time
Working Hearts with Graeae Theatre Company, still doing Gay Sweatshop but discovering new areas of work

Writing process for young people
Likes to engage with people he’s working with
Rainbows Ending – play he ended up writing that didn’t come directly from workshops but mounted from material that came from process
He likes writing play he wants to, but inspired by workshops
Writing plays for young people
1986 Royal Court project set in London, stories about experience of hurricane

Best of Friends and being banned
Best of Friends in 1985. Key play commissioned by Perspectives Theatre, Mansfield, Collectively run company.
Wanted a play for youth cubs on sexuality
Play spans period from WW11 to Falklands war, set in family with lesbian and
gay characters, description of story
His first youth club audiences commission, initially banned by local council but overturned by them doing a performance for local councillors with people lobbying on their behalf
West End had very high-profile plays with homosexual themes like The Normal Heart and Torch Song Trilogy then
Local MP Alan Simpson supported their play and it being produced

Life and work side by side
His life and work are one and same thing, his hobby is the work he does
All relationships bound up with work, interested in history too
Now with his allotment – for the first time a hobby that is separate from work

Best of Friends cont.
Writing about the town he grew up in
Performing to young people that could have been him

Working Hearts, 1986 for Graeae, engaged him with disability arts movement Friends – Hamish McDonald (deceased) who went to work with Gay Sweatshop, and Ellen Wilkie (deceased)
She was a poet and worked with Double Exposure
Description of Working Hearts. Poetic piece, play of its time and moment, directed by Maggie Ford

Laughter on the Other Side and Theatre Centre
Laughter on the Other Side, first Theatre Centre play
They wanted a play on sexuality, because of Best of Friends
One job led to another, became playwright in residence at Theatre Centre, mid 80s middle of Thatcherism
Arts community under attack, Left under attack
Many artists found work with young people, found new areas of being able to do their work through being ‘invisible’ outside main arenas, and were invited into it

Writing at National
Oxbridge trained writers who went on to National Theatre
NG was commissioned by National to do a play for Ian McKellen’s company, but play not done (1987)
Play was about Roger Casement
Ian enthusiastic, had company at National but fell out with Richard Eyre, who dropped commitment to play, paid although it wasn’t produced

Whispers in the Dark and other young people’s plays
Whispers in the Dark, second Theatre Centre play
Became their writer-in-residence for a while, then dramaturg, directing plays for them
Long and varied relationship with Theatre Centre

Nurturing other playwrights. (Gay Sweatshop x 10 and x 12 Festivals)

Plague of Innocents at Sheffield Crucible followed by Best of Friends
Late 80s
Description of Plague of Innocents, written prior to Clause 28 but foresaw it Sheffield wanted something around HIV and Aids
Noel wrote a futuristic piece around the last few moments of 1999, in an England where HIV/Aids people become associated with being dissidents Sort of 1984, it was fed by thoughts and feelings around Aids crisis and current attitudes towards it, play was metaphor where ‘pretended’ family units were made illegal
He handed in first draft and Clause 28 was announced. David Blunkett voted for Clause 28
Noel based in Sheffield for 9 years, having moved there in 1987, had been visiting for ages, London was full of Thatcherite mentality
First connection with Sheffield was Edward Carpenter research
Whispers in the Dark was also done in Sheffield
Translated Michel Tremblay’s The Good Sisters – Yorkshire dialect translation
Part-time post as dramaturg for new writing in theatre
Became involved with community and advising on panel for Forced Entertainment for a while

Leaving Gay Sweatshop
Wrench leaving Gay Sweatshop, stayed till 1987
2nd New Writing Season happened as he was leaving
After Poppies he was more involved on production side
Wrote one more play after he left, Paradise Now and Then, Gay Sweatshop did a couple of Philip Osment plays, management changed and Lois Weaver became Artistic Director and they went into the Queer territory
He felt Gay Sweatshop lost their audience – the broad-based following that had been built up over the years, the work he had done with Sweatshop he was now doing elsewhere

Paradise Now and Then
Sweatshop was being run by Bryony Lavery, David Benedict, Richard Sandells, Cordelia Ditton
Reasons why play didn’t work so well
Working relationship between him and Richard Coles the composer not as firm as it could have been, production didn’t have management that could handle it, ambitious project that achieved some of its goals – celebrating 20 years of Stonewall riots, a now and then play. Tired to embrace a huge amount – Civil Rights, Gay movement, feminism, Cold War, at Drill Hall it was performed with a choir which was extraordinary, an honourable failure

National Theatre commission had no work process
Noel has never worked with a dramaturg on his plays, though has probably needed one
Likes helping others develop their writing

Final Cargo
Back and forth from Sheffield
Final Cargo with Major Road in Bradford, published
Take on the Ancient Mariner, an ecological play
Toured to Moscow after Perestroika, irony of doing a socialist play in Russia when it was embracing capitalism

Theatre Centre and other work in 80s
Common Voices and Authentic Heaven at Theatre Centre
Started as writer with Theatre Centre in mid 80s, liked writing for schools Became writer in residence
During that period developed role for new writers, work with commissioned writers like Lin Coghlan and Jackie Kay
Writers group for those who hadn’t written before like Roy Williams – Roy had played Queen Victoria in Noel’s play Familiar Feelings, first play Roy did for company was by Lin Coghlan – Roy was a Roman soldier
NG developed practise and policy for new writing
Company committed to strenuously inviting a broad spectrum of writers Director at time was Libby Mason
Brian Way began Theatre Centre, then David Johnson took over, David was Artistic Director but it was run collectively
They had a women’s company and a mixed company, very volatile
From outside it looked shambolic but it worked
Nona Shepphard, Bryony Lavery and Bill Mitchell, Philip Tyler all involved, very vibrant
Politics had not been lost which is why it was very attractive to those from a political background
Play in early 80s about Cold War by David Holman that got aggressive press coverage but on the whole work continued under the radar
Progressive and subversive work going into schools
Creating a company where a whole range of voices were being developed in work as actors, designers, writers – things that National Theatre nowadays get a big gold star for doing
In his Christopher Marlowe play a Black actor, Marva Alexander played Queen Elizabeth, that’s what you did then, Theatre Centre was forging ahead with
a representative range of artists that reflected the society they were living in  New writers were – NG, Lin Coghlan and Jackie Kay.
Common Heaven and Trashed were commissioned by Ros Hutt

Authentic Voices
NG and Michael Judge, Associate Director, Theatre Centre dreamt up Authentic Voices
Developed over year, year and a half with young writers –
4 young, Bengali women, developing their work, vignettes that became a collage, worked with professional actors and toured
Michael and he were directors, 15- 16 year old writers from Tower Hamlets

Working with Red Ladder
First worked with Red Ladder when Kully Thiarai (KT) became its Artistic Director after Rachel Feldberg left (1995)
Met KT when he worked with Major Road and she was an Arts Council trainee, asked NG to write a play for them and then to be their dramaturg.
End of Season his first Red Ladder play was inspired by the case of a young woman whose boyfriend had been involved in a racist killing in a small town, she blew the whistle on him and was ostracised by the whole town, and had to leave
Took into youth clubs, co-productions with Canadian company, Canadians brought over to work with British actors and later production went to Canada.
Dramaturg there until 2000, developing work with writers – Roy Williams, Maya Chowdhry, Lin Coghlan, Philip Osment
Running workshops for new writers, offering a process to writers
Didn’t set out to be a writer, interested in seeing theatre being made
Never had a plan just did the next thing that came along

Number of individual shows
Picture Me for Red Ladder, came out of a visit he made to India with KT
when she was at Red Ladder, trying to make connections with people in India Connected with a couple of street theatres – big movement of street theatres Huge work in slum areas, creating work that raised issues important to the people there, play came out of that experience, set in North England and India. Story of a young woman and her brother, dealt with HIV and Aids Performed in youth clubs here, received well, gay characters on stage, still contentious, gay Asian characters

At Break of Day –developed in South Africa when working in townships and
at University in Port Elizabeth
New experiences of life feeding into work
This fed into project develop with KT called ‘Contacting the World’
Met a group in India called The Pandies and said it would be great to twin them with Red Ladder
KT left Red Ladder and was appointed to do development work at Contact Theatre, Manchester, NG and she spoke to John McGrath at Contact [Theatre] about Contacting the World
He liked  idea, it grew and they brought over 6 companies from all over the world, KT went off to Leicester Haymarket and was replaced by Julia Turpin Festival was called Contacting the World, 6 world youth companies were twinned with 6 British
Long-distance working, developing project together led by NG, description of process – same process, different artistic outcomes. 12 groups, 6 pairs being given different tasks, process to encourage collaboration, very different styles emerged, twinning of differences
Company from Zimbabwe who literally lived on the streets twinned with a group from Poland
Bringing differences together to make something new
So successful it led to more of same, performed in main house at Contact Theatre, first year funded by British Council, Arts Council and local authority Every two years, now in its fourth term, twice in Manchester, then Liverpool, next time in Istanbul, the work he is most proud of
Companies tracked down variously, word of mouth, who they knew
Have hosted 48 companies from around the world, couple of hundred applicants last time

Book on process and his work now
He has brought out a book about his working processes – if the work is there it should be available for people to share
Not really writing so many plays now
2 plays for David Johnson, who has a company in Derby, Tangere Arts
One based on Red Riding Hood the other on Hansel and Gretel
Solo plays for actor Gary Laydon with musician Lewis Gibson, reworking of those stories for schools

Current Idea for a play
Not being commissioned
Running writing workshops with Philip Osment in Deal from time to time

Gay theatre
What is a gay play? There are plays with lesbian and gay characters in them It’s great for it not to be such a big deal to have plays with lesbian and gay characters in them
Differences in writing now and before
Roy Williams plays– emphasis is on writing for his generation
NG wrote for movements he was attached to, writing for The General Will was another aspect of being socialist, for Gay Sweatshop another aspect of being gay, part of the gay movement, women who worked for Women’s Theatre Group [WTG] was an extension of women’s movement
Now, like Roy, very pertinent to Black experience, come out of involvement not necessarily through a movement
WTG, Monstrous Regiment and Gay Sweatshop grew out of social, political movements very directly, same people doing theatre work were going out demonstrating, marching, producing leaflets, going to meetings
For some a phase, David Edgar taking time out to go back to political journalism
Noel’s connection with politics and work remains same
Working with Karen Spicer in Brighton with a group of young lesbian and gay people, doing same exercises as 40 years ago at Brighton Combination
Wonderful evening as good as having a play put on as National theatre People came out of workshop ‘larger’
What else is there if people don’t come out ‘larger’ in the process?

Back to Noel Greig