FYFFI: Fifty Years of the Fight for Inclusion

FYFFI: Fifty Years of the Fight for Inclusion 

2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Women’s Theatre Festival

Click here for details of Guided Walks exploring Women in the (Alternative) West End.

What is FYFFI?
FYFFI is an initiative by Unfinished Histories project, in conjunction with London Performance Studios, to mark key moments in the struggles for change in British theatre in the post-war era. Through a rolling programme of events, FYFFI will mark three key anniversaries, celebrating moments that were both significant in themselves and in the changes that followed from them. They are:

  • The first Women’s Theatre Festival in Britain in 1973-74
  • The first Gay Theatre Festival in Britain in 1975
  • The publication of Naseem Khan’s ground-breaking report The Arts Britain Ignores, by the Commission for Racial Equality in 1976

Each of these events marked a vital moment in the campaign to make theatre more inclusive in its representation of groups and experiences previously invisibilised, onstage through diversifying who was represented as playwrights and performers, offstage as directors, producers, board members, technicians… and as audiences, through making theatre more accessible across racial, class and gender divides.
FYFFI takes these key anniversaries as an opportunity to celebrate this vital history of women’s, LGBTQ+ and Black creativity, and the fight to change the make-up of our theatre look at how far we have come, where we are now, how debates on inclusion and diversity started and how they have moved in the intervening period, how organisations today like The Act for Change Campaign, Parents in Performing Arts, and others are addressing issues of exclusion by race, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, Dis/ability, caring responsibilities, nationality and religion. In a context where access to arts education is becoming increasingly exclusive it looks at how we can ensure that young women and non-binary people from socially marginalised communities, LGBTQ+ and global majority individuals can have access to the arts as both audiences and creative artists.
FYFFI celebrates a sustainable theatre, valuing the contribution of elders in a society and a theatre in love with the new, where a whole raft of earlier work has gone under-recognised and forgotten and acknowledges the impact of the alternative theatre movement in creating change in the mainstream. It celebrates earlier struggles for change and addresses what can be learnt from them, rediscovering and revisiting a rich repertoire of forgotten plays and neglected history and aims to share them with a new and diverse audience.
What will be happening?
Each year we will revisit some of the forgotten work from that period through workshops, playreadings, publication and will host an exhibition, guided tours and a symposium  in the Autumn.
As ever we are keen to collect information, archive material, scripts and memories of the work of that period.
As well as plays we plan to publish and explore through workshops experimental performance texts and scores for innovative work by women, including work by Hesitate and Demonstrate and by Natasha Morgan‘s That’s Not It.

Jenny Carey’s design for That’s Not It’s Room (1981)

Get Involved
We are keen to find partners (groups, theatres, universities, researchers) to help amplify the work and take it further including putting on additional satellite events, within London and elsewhere. We are also keen to find volunteers to help with the work, as well as Patrons and supporters. If you would be interested in getting involved,
please email us.

Playreadings/ Workshops

In April and May we will host our first community workshops exploring some of the plays from that period at London Performance Studios in South Bermondsey/Peckham.
Final details are to be confirmed but they will include Pam Gems’s Go West, Young Woman! (originally produced by The Women’s Company at the Roundhouse, 1974) and Melissa Murray’s Ophelia (Hormone Imbalance, 1979). We also hope to revisit Jane Arden’s earlier Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven (1969), Vauxhall Manor Girls’ School’s Motherland (Oval House, 1982) and a play by Winsome Pinnock.
These all-day workshops will explore the plays and their time and will feed into a playreading programme later in the year at LPS and elsewhere and into an anthology of scripts.
For details of how to get involved watch this space or email us.