Sally Willis was a leading actress with The Artaud Company from 1974-1977. Michael Almaz had heard about Sally’s work through John Abulafia (Director of Opera in Berlin) and visited her in her flat in Willesden Green. She gave a short audition for him and they knew immediately that they could work well together. At the time there were very little solo shows for women and Michael wrote one woman plays especially for Sally.
Their first collaboration was Memoirs of a Witch which they took to Rotterdam in 1974. She also appeared in the double bill Story and Letters from K at the Edinburgh Fringe and on European tours. Story was Sally’s favourite play. It involved a taped voice (which was her own) and her as the actress on stage reacting to what was said. She said, ‘Michael made plays about ordinary people, but made them extraordinary’. In 1975 Sally moved in with Michael and Pam (his wife) in their flat.
When she toured in Europe she took two suitcases; one with her props and one with her clothes. Michael had some contacts in Europe and Pam made the bookings by researching venues at the library and other places. Sally recounted the time when she took a train from Rotterdam to Brussels to visit the Palais des Beaux Arts. There she met the Director, Bob van Aalderen, and he told her his friends had seen her perform in Rotterdam and he set up a tour of Belgium for her.
Michael always used strange conventions in his work which made it very interesting to perform and to watch. They always had great reviews and a warm reception in Europe. She recalled a letter she received from a member of the audience who was so grateful to have chosen to go to the theatre as it really touched her. Sally devoted her time to The Artaud Company during her three years with them. She said, ‘It was the most wonderful time in my life. And I never achieved the same again with other work. I greatly admired Michael’s work – he understood actors.’