The Freehold

Company Name: The Freehold (an unrelated theatre company called Freehold was set up in Seattle in 1991)

Founder: Nancy Meckler with actors from the Wherehouse Company

Established: Freehold had their first gigs at the beginning of 1969

Reason: Freehold was formed after a split between the actors of the Wherehouse Company and Beth Porter. Porter and her husband, Peter Reid, recruited new company members and continued working as Wherehouse La MaMa [n.b. in order to create consistency on our web-site we are using the typographic presentation of La MaMa that is currently used by the ‘parent’ American company. During the late 60s and 70s the company was more frequently referred to as La Mama]

Current Status: Freehold ceased to perform after 1973

Area of Work: Experimental 

Policy: ‘The aim …. was to explore theatre in a physical non-naturalistic way, to find means of exploring texts not dependent on language-based practices.’ Stephen Rea (Rees 1992)

Structure: ‘Everything was collective, that was the emphasis. Even to the point where, when we performed, we never printed the parts the actors were playing [in the programmes]. We were all anti anything to do with careers, or anything vaguely materialist …These actors were saying “I don’t want to work in conventional theatre, I only want to work in a deeply idealistic way”. They were really turning their back on the Establishment ….. I was the guide, but I was desperately trying to be  totally collaborative, and that’s why everyone felt so connected and felt so much ownership.’ (Nancy Meckler interviewed by Cathy Turner, June 2001 quoted in Heddon  and Milling 2006)

Based: London based – first, Drury Lane Arts Lab, then Oval House

Funding: In 1970 Freehold and Peter Hulton shared the Arts Council John Whiting Award for New Writing (£1000) for Antigone. From 1970-72 Freehold received Arts Council funding for UK touring – for example in 1972 they received £5,500.

Performance venues: Drury Lane Arts Lab, Mercury Theatre London, Oval House, Akademie der Künste Berlin, Young Vic, Royal Court Theatre, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Glasgow Citizens, Everyman Theatre Liverpool, The Cockpit, Whitgift Film Theatre Grimsby, Chapter Arts Cardiff, Yarborough Lincoln,The Mickery Amsterdam, Birmingham Arts Lab, Venice Biennaile, Theater 11 Zurich, Belgrade International Theatre Festival.

Audiences: From the outset Freehold was part of the counter-cultural scene and performed at key alternative venues and festivals in the UK and in Europe. However there was a growing interest in experimental work among the wider public – evidenced by two BBC television commissions and the support of the Arts Council could also be seen as a recognition that Freehold’s work had a broad appeal.


For more photographs of Freehold see the Nancy Meckler interviewee page.

Company work and process:

La MaMa and the Wherehouse Company
Following the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company’s production of Futz at the Edinburgh Festival and The Mercury Theatre London in 1967 Beth Porter, Peter Reid and Tony Sibbald approached Ellen Stewart with regards to setting-up a European, London-based, La MaMa company. Stewart was in broad agreement, and gave financial support to the group, but initially withheld the ‘La MaMa’ name until they had proven themselves (Porter 2011). In Autumn 1968, as the Wherehouse Company (a play on ‘warehouse’ – the Arts Lab premises being ex-warehouses space – and ‘where it’s at’), they started workshops at Drury Lane Arts Lab where Jim Haynes had offered them free rehearsal space. The make-up of the workshop group was fluid – Reid, Sibbald, Porter and her cousin Hugh Portnow were joined by Maurice Colbourne and Neil Johnston – both performing with Portable Theatre at the Arts Lab. Ann McFerran [later theatre critic with Time Out] brought  Stephen Rea along  and the mainly male group were joined by Zeila Roks from Germany and Dinah Stabb. Nancy Meckler joined the Wherehouse Company as assistant director (Meckler 2017). Like Porter, Meckler was also American and she had just completed an M.A. in Performance Studies at NYU under Richard Schechner. She was particularly enthusiastic about the work of Joe Chaikin’s Open Theater and was an assistant of Stanley Rosenberg  with La MaMa Plexus for nearly a year. Visiting London in August 1968 Meckler met David Aukin, her future husband, and decided to make it her home. The idea that a European based La MaMa style experimental theatre company was coming together at the Arts Lab was timely.

Porter and Reid adopted a La MaMa workshop approach and were resistant to what they saw as hierarchical director-led theatre, preferring that everyone take turns in directing (Porter 2011). The Wherehouse’s company presentations at the Arts Lab in November included a workshop response to the witches scene from Macbeth directed by Meckler and also George Birimisa’s Mr Jello – a play that Ellen Stewart had  ‘offered’ the new company. Porter was called away for some weeks to film Futz with Tom O’Horgan in America and the company looked to Meckler as ‘director’. They started work on a company devised piece that would be called Alternatives. As ‘work in progress’ this was tried out at a new fringe venue – The Brighton Combination.

When Beth Porter returned, she announced that she wanted no directors in the company and presented an ultimatum: ‘more personal focus or finish’. The company chose to ‘finish’ but wanted to continue as a collective with Meckler as director (Merete Bates Nov 1969). ‘The Freehold’ name was coined by Neil Johnston for the re-grouped company – suggesting both freedom and ownership. Prior bookings for Mr. Jello that had been made for the Wherehouse Company at the Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate and the Traverse Edinburgh were renegotiated and went ahead under the Freehold ‘banner’. Although Meckler never cared for the play, Mr. Jello was well received. Nicholas de Jongh in The Guardian saw it as revealing the rancid and rotting essence of American society: ‘There are stunningly forceful performances from Dinah Stabb and Tony Sibbald, and Nancy Meckler’s direction balances the moods of vigour and dreaminess impressively: a palpable hit’.

Move to Oval House
The Arts Lab had become embroiled in various financial and organizational crises, and Freehold moved to Oval House where Peter Oliver charged a ‘tiny fee’ for the hiring of a 14 sq.ft  rehearsal room. From January 1969, David Aukin became administrator for the company and would also chair the Oval House board for a number of years. Only those with total commitment to the work would tolerate the lack of remuneration – ‘living little above subsistence level on whatever they could save or scrounge’ (Meret Bates 1969) – bar-work and other casual work enabled them to get by. A balance sheet from 1968-69 shows average Arts Lab box-office takings for Freehold performances as being about £3 per run! For the Brighton Combination and Traverse Theatre Edinburgh gigs the company wasn’t paid at all although the Traverse paid for a van to transport them up to Edinburgh and accommodation was arranged for their stay.

Stephen Rea described Freehold as the most ‘vigorous of all companies’ in their total approach to training the actor and devising performances. Drawing upon her work with Stanley Rosenberg in New York, Meckler used a wide range of physical movement exercises to facilitate improvisation. ‘If you start physically, people can work in a deeply intuitive way and express themselves in ways they never would have dreamt of doing because it’s totally non-naturalistic’ (Meckler interview 2017). Rea wryly comments on Meckler’s use of Grotowski’s The Cat  exercise  ‘…. a way of preparing the body, based on movements of the cat, and a way of preparing concentration. Very physical. Americans took it very seriously but Europeans, especially Irish Europeans, were not as entirely po-faced about it as perhaps the Poles were!’ (Rees 1992). Meckler explains how exercises would led to performance: ‘If I thought there was a useful section or sequence we would repeat it and [thereby] remember it ……We would do a lot in slow motion -which was another way of getting people into their bodies and to experience time in a completely different way’ (Meckler interview 2017). A cross-fertilisation of approaches from other practitioners came from being based at the Oval: ‘All the time, Nancy was bringing people in, like Emil Wolk, back from Paris, having studied mime there. He was doing workshops with us. Trying to expand our physical vocabulary. It was astonishing work and it was all down to Nancy, who had the vision to see that this way of working was new and different’ (Rees 1992).

In March 1969 Mr Jello played in repertory  with a double bill of new work: The Successful Life of 3 by Marie Irene Fornes and the new company-devised piece Alternatives at the Traverse Theatre. This production gave more of an idea of the direction Freehold were heading and drew on Meckler’s interest in the work of Joe Chaikin ‘… Alternatives owed an awful lot to The Open Theater…. It was a coming of age story where we would start off as children, and then as teenagers, and then older and we had some sections that felt as experimental as the Living Theatre were doing.’ (Meckler 2017). Alternatives was seen as emblematic of the emerging alternative theatre and as such was chosen by a  BBC2 team for the discussion programme Free For All  – Freehold’s show was performed for a large mixed audience (including guests such as Michael Kustow) to provoke discussion about ‘experimental theatre’  [Broadcast BBC2 Saturday 23 August 1969].

Working on Antigone
Whilst performing at the Traverse in the evening, the company used their daytime workshops exploring Greek tragedy through physical expressionism. Max Stafford Clark, was in the process of setting up his own company and would often came to observe. Meckler was interested in exploring classical texts by seeing what would happen when the company started by acting out the subtext through intensive physical improvisation and then the language was fed in later. The attraction of working with classic texts such as Antigone lay in their ‘external discipline…We chose a classic because of its clear structure and big dynamics’ (Bates 1969) . Rehearsals continued back in London and Peter Hulton got involved. He had experience of working with the Living Theatre and started making suggestions about ‘deconstructing and rethinking the play’. He also wrote new material. Hulton brought ‘a lot of the aesthetic of the Living Theatre [to Antigone] such as inserting situations where we were talking directly to the audience – which maybe wouldn’t have been my obvious choice’ (Meckler 2017). For example as an act of political commitment, the audience was asked to come forward at the end to ‘bury’ Antigone’s dead brother. During the life of the production this ending changed as Meckler wanted to focus on ‘the emotions of the problem’ rather than seeing it purely in terms of the individual versus the State (Ansorge 1972).

With a slightly expanded company of 9 performers, Antigone played at the Drury Lane Arts Lab ‘in the heat of summer [of 1969] and got an invite to perform at a circus tent on the meadow at the Edinburgh Festival. Daytime the circus performed, in the evenings we shared times with the People Show who were a press sensation as their show had nudity.’ (Meckler 2017). Jim Haynes brought the Artistic Director of Akademie Der Kunste in Berlin to see the production and he loved it – inviting them to perform at Berlin in a festival of experimental theatre. They were paid a considerable fee of £850 – the money being shared out amongst the company. The contrast between funding for experimental arts in Germany and  UK was staggering. Alternatives had been transmitted by the BBC in August –making the Freehold one of the highest profile alternative theatre companies. Returning from Berlin they took up rehearsal space at Alford House – near Oval House. Antigone opened at the Round House in November to popular and critical success. An interview with Meckler (The Freehold on man’s inhumanity 22 Nov 1969) was published in The Guardian.

Drums in the Night, Malfi and more Antigone 
In December the company reprised their earlier Macbeth witches’ improvisation for a Vincent Price horror movie Cry of the Banshee (director: Gordon Hessler) – the actors being paid £10 a day. With Arts Council funding in place for a 1970 UK tour of Antigone and European bookings later in the summer, they began work on John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi . Having the success that they had with Antigone, a follow-up was going to be difficult and Duchess of Malfi was ‘probably not a good choice’ as it was such a difficult text to adapt. Hulton had moved away and was no longer available to help with the text – and for Meckler ‘the memories of it are absolutely agonizing!’ (Meckler 2017). Roland Rees – known to the company through his work at the Ambiance Lunchtime Theatre – was taken on to direct Freehold in Brecht’s Drums of the Night – both plays being presented at the Traverse in April 1970 . Rees commented on the difficulties of working with a permanent company like Freehold as ‘the play had to fit their needs [instead of] casting the play as I required’ (Rees 1992). Rees went on to direct Stephen Rea again in a Foco Novo production of Drums in the Night a few years later – also at the Traverse Theatre. The problematic Malfi was temporarily put on hold and around this time Maurice Colbourne, left to co-found the Half Moon Theatre Company.

In May 1970 Freehold’s Antigone won the Arts Council John Whiting Award for New Writing. The company’s half-share was the £500 and Peter Hulton also received £500. Freehold had a further opportunity to work with the BBC television and chose to collaborate again with Hulton on a ‘Japanese Noh play’ that he had written – Woman of the Place (The Times 7 May 1970). With Duchess of Malfi scheduled for the opening season of the Young Vic in October the company started rehearsing again in June. Meckler was then pregnant and would not be joining the company for their final European tour of Antigone that included the Venice Biennale and the Belgrade International Theatre Festival. With the company away Meckler coached Bruce Meyers to take over Colbourne’s role in Malfi. The Young Vic opening of Duchess of Malfi went ahead in October although Meckler felt it was ‘something of a failure’. In the same month Antigone had one of it’s last performances at the Royal Court’s Come Together Festival.

Guest directors, company disbanded and reformed      
Nancy Meckler’s first son, Daniel, was born in November 1970. As Meckler took leave to be with her son and Freehold had a series of ‘guest directors’. Michael Rudman was a friend of David Aukin’s from Oxford and was currently Artistic Director of the Traverse. In March under Rudman’s direction Freehold presented a ‘much-admired production’ of Michael de Ghelderode’s Pantagleize with Emil Wolk joining the now smaller Freehold company. Wolk took a more central organizing role in a commedia dell’arte children’s show Harlequin and Columbine performed at Oval House in May 1971. Time Out praised the production’s use of audience involvement and the production being  ‘… full of beautiful involving ideas.’

The old company disbanded and a new company created
A lot of unhappiness among the company came to a head during rehearsals with Clare Davidson for an Ionesco play Jacques. The company’s rationale as a director-led collective was lost without Meckler: ‘Nancy went to have a baby and so the central figure was gone’ (Stephen Rea 1992). By the summer of 1971, the original Freehold company had effectively disbanded. ‘When it fell apart it was a big shock’ (Meckler, 2017). Arts Council funding was still in place for the next year and unwilling to give up on Freehold and what it stood for she decided to form a new company. That Freehold’s work was held in high regard made the task easier and LAMDA friend, Maureen Lipman, suggested that Marty Cruickshank and Paula Dionisotti [from Stables Theatre Club] may be interested. Through a Time Out advert Wolf Kahler and Chris Ravenscroft applied and were auditioned. Neil Johnston was the only actor from the original line-up but was joined later by Dinah Stabb.

Mary, Mary and Genesis
At this point Freehold were hiring rehearsal space in Gospel Oak [£5 a week]. The double garage space was managed by Time Out critic, John Ashford, and it also served as an unlicensed venue, The Roxy, used by the company to try out work with small invited audiences. Roy Kift approached Meckler with Mary, Mary – a dark play drawing on a recent notorious murder case in which the ten year old Mary Bell had strangled to death two younger boys in Newcastle. Meckler was initially unsure but Kift’s script was ideally suited to Freehold’s expressionistic approach – playground games and chanted choruses were intercut with schoolroom and court scenes. In Freehold’s production Mary is played successively by four of the company. The ‘preview’ performances at the Roxy demonstrate the success of the piece and led to a booking at the Theatre Upstairs for the following March. Meanwhile the company wanted to work with Kift again on their next project – they were booked for David Aukin’s Come to The Cockpit at Christmas Festival January 1972. Taking The Open Theater’s production The Serpent as inspiration, Freehold developed Genesis – an episodic piece that moves from the Garden of Eden to Cain and Abel, Noah’s Flood to the Tower of Babel. Meckler found devising and collaborating with a writer at the same time unsatisfactory. ‘ … It was probably OK, but it wasn’t a satisfying piece of theatre’ (Meckler 2017). Irving Wardle (The Times 5 Jan 1972) praised the ‘extraordinary work’ by the performers but felt it lacked ‘a sense of total intention’. Fortunately Mary, Mary opened at Theatre Upstairs to great acclaim. Committed to a three month UK and European tour with Genesis , the company added Mary, Mary to the tour.

There, This, Move and Icarus
The company remained committed to being ‘exploratory and expressionistic’ – returning from the European tour a three week mime workshop with Japanese butoh artist, Mitsutaka Ishii prepared them for the workshop presentation of two very ‘off-the-wall’ plays – at The Roxy: There, This, Move by Michael Kirby and Icarus’ Mother by Sam Shepard . Sam Shepard’s wife, O-Lan, had joined Freehold’s weekly workshops and through her, Meckler had met Sam Shepard and he agreed for them to do Icarus’ Mother – just prior to The Tooth of the Crime opening at Open Space.

Beowulf and the difficulty of finding the right texts
Later in 1972 work started on Liane Aukin’s adaption of Beowulf . Even with additional writing input from Peter Hulton there was a ‘disconnect’ between the script and the company’s position on the text. Whereas the company were interested in a Jungian interpretation of Beowulf , with related iconography, this wasn’t really in the script. ‘There were a couple of phenomenal scenes in [the production] but I don’t think we really brought it off as a piece’. As with Genesis, Meckler found it ‘unbearable’ that the company were committed to a three month tour with what was at best only ‘an interesting experiment’. Not wishing to leave her son, she none-the-less felt responsible for being unable to continue developmental work with the company. These personal tensions including Meckler’s desire for another child, contributed to her decision to bring Freehold to an end. Despite these personal tensions there remained with this feeling of Meckler’s that Freehold ‘never really connected with the writers who maybe could have helped us …or to have found the right texts’(Meckler 2017) seem an unresolvable problem.

A promenade style Chekhov
Bowing out on a high note Meckler directed the Beowulf company in an innovative promenade style performance of Acts One and Two of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters. Performed in Meckler and Aukin’s house in St Johns Wood in April 1973: ‘The performances happened around our kitchen, sitting-room and study. It’s a big house. Entrances were made through the front door, scenes ended and were taken up in another room without any warning to the audience, who wandered around the house picking up the action wherever it had moved.’ (David Aukin 1987). The invited audience included Max Stafford Clark whose then wife, Carole Hayman, had stepped in to cover an actress who was ill. He was influenced to do a promenade performance of Heathcote Williams’s The Speakers with Joint Stock the following year.

Freehold’s contemporaries from the Arts Lab – Portable Theatre and Pip Simmons also disbanded in 1973. Whilst each company had problems specific to their own circumstances, more than one commentator felt that the ‘permanently touring company’ was an unsustainable model: ‘…the first tide of the British fringe…..was ebbing. The energy to run a permanent company without a building base had been exhausted…’ (David Aukin 1987).

Personal appraisal and thoughts: ‘I just feel very fortunate … that I first joined La MaMa Plexus company and was introduced to this very non-naturalistic expressionistic way of working because it became a passion and it took me on some fantastic journeys, I was just really lucky that I just walked into that..’ (Meckler 2017)


‘…their [Freehold’s] use of mime and expressive gesture, song and non-verbalized sound is always illustrative rather than merely decorative: and at its best, as in the song in praise of man, the movement achieves a formal beauty that precisely echoes the rhythms of the speech.’ Michael Billington, (The Times 1 Dec 1969)
Mary, Mary
‘…most impressive Freehold production …both in grasp of form and in its scenic imagination …..It is this kind of invention that earns Freehold a leading place among our experimental troupes’ Irving Wardle, (The Times 2 March 1972)

Mr Jello
Writer: George Birimisa
Director: Nancy Meckler
Music: Hugh Portnow
Company: Maurice Colbourne, Nancy Meckler, Stephen Rea, Tony Sibbald and Dinah Stabb.
Drury Lane Arts Lab London (initially performed as Wherehouse Company, Mercury Theatre London and Traverse Edinburgh productions billed as the Freehold company) 22 Nov – 8 Dec 1968 (Arts Lab), unknown date of Mercury Theatre, 14 Mar 1969 (Traverse)
Company devised
Director: Nancy Meckler
Music: Hugh Portnow Company: Maurice Colbourne, Neil Johnston, Nancy Meckler, Pauline Kelly, Hugh Portnow, Stephen Rea, Tony Sibbald and Dinah Stabb +
The Successful Life of 3 Writer: Marie Irene Forness
Company: Nancy Meckler
Cast: Neil Johnston, Stephen Rea, Dinah Stabb
Brighton Combination (Alternatives only), Traverse Theatre Edinburgh11 Mar 1969 (Traverse)
Writer: Peter Hulton (after Sophocles)
Director: Nancy Meckler
Composer: Hugh Portnow
Designer: Claire Sorrel
Company: Maurice Colbourne , Nina Glass, Neil Johnston, Hugh Portnow, Stephen Rea, Tony Sibbald, Dinah Stabb, Tim Thomas and Rowan Wylie
Arts Lab Drury Lane, Edinburgh Combination Tent Theatre, Akademie Der Kunste Berlin, Round House (late night), Close Theatre Club Glasgow, Royal Court Theatre and later Royal Court Come Together Festival, Everyman Theatre Liverpool, Mickery Theatre Amsterdam, Venice Biennale’s International Theatre Festival, Belgrade International Theatre Festival (BITEF)Aug 1969 (Edinburgh), Autumn 1969 (Berlin), 19 Nov – 6 Dec 1969 (Round House), 19-22 Apr 1970 (Glasgow), 24 & 25 Apr 1970 (Royal Court), Jul 1970 (Venice), Sept 1970 (Mickery), Sept 1970 (Belgrade), Oct 1970 (Come Together Festival)
The Duchess of Malfi
Adapted from John Webster
Director: Nancy Meckler
Designer: Karen Roston
Company: Maurice Colbourne, Nina Glass, Neil Johnston, Hugh Portnow, Stephen Rea, Tony Sibbald, Dinah Stabb, Tim Thomas and Rowan Wylie
(Bruce Meyers replaces Maurice Colbourne at Young Vic)
Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Close Theatre Club Glasgow, Mickery Theatre Amsterdam, Young Vic 31 Mar (Traverse), 23-26 Apr 1970 (Glasgow), 6-31 Oct 1970 (Young Vic)
Drums in the Night
Writer: Bertolt Brecht (translator: Richard Beckley)
Director: Roland Rees
Company: Maurice Colbourne, Nina Glass, Neil Johnston, Hugh Portnow, Stephen Rea, Tony Sibbald, Dinah Stabb, Tim Thomas and Rowan Wylie
Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Close Theatre Club Glasgow7 Apr 1970 (Traverse), 15-18 Apr 1970 (Glasgow)
Woman of the Place
Writer: Peter Hulton (based on a Japanese story)
Company: Nina Glass, Neil Johnson, Hugh Portnow, Stephen Rea, Tony Sibbald, Dinah Stabb, Tim Thomas and Rowan Wylie
BBC TV broadcast in series First Time OutRehearsals took place from May 1970
Broadcast date: 10 Sept 1971
Writer: Michael de Ghelderode
Director: Michael Rudman
Company: Arwen Holm, Neil Johnston, Hugh Portnow, Stephen Rea, Dinah Stabb, Emil Wolk, Rowan Wylie.
Traverse Theatre Edinburgh11 Mar 1971
Harlequin and Columbine
Company devised.
Directed by Emil Wolk and the company.
Cast Included: Dinah Stabb, Stephen Rea, Neal Johnston, Rowan Wylie and Emil Wolk.
Oval House May 1971(Oval)
Mary, Mary
Writer: Roy Kift
Directed by Nancy Meckler, Roxy company: Marty Cruickshank, Paula Dionisotti, Arwen Holm, Mike Harley, Neil Johnston, Wolf Kahler, Christopher Ravenscroft, one other female actress?
Royal Court company: Marty Cruickshank, Paula Dionisotti, Mike Harley, Neil Johnston, Wolf Kahler, Christopher Ravenscroft, Jennie Stoller, Ruth Tansey
The Roxy Gospel Oak, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs (10 performances) Traverse Theatre Edinburgh and Mickery Theatre, Holland tour, Theater 11 Zurich1971 (The Roxy), 1 Mar 1972 (Royal Court), 14 Mar 1972 (Traverse), 25 Mar (Mickery), 20 Apr 1972 (Zurich)
Writer: Roy Kift
Director: Nancy Meckler
Music: Carl Davis
Company: Paula Dionisotti, Peter Evans, Mike Harley, Neil Johnston, Wolf Kahler, Christopher Ravenscroft, Jennie Stoller, Ruth Tansey.
(Marty Cruickshank on European tour?)
Guitar: Peter Evans
Come to The Cockpit at Christmas Festival, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Mickery, Holland tour, Theater 11 Zurich5 Jan 1972 (Cockpit), 14 Mar 1972 (Traverse), Mar (Mickery), 20 Apr 1972 (Zurich)
Icarus’s Mother
Writer: Sam Shepard
Director: Nancy Meckler
Writer: Michael Kirby
Director: Nancy Meckler
The Roxy, Gospel OakJun 1972
Adapter: Liane Aukin
Director: Nancy Meckler
Company: Marty Cruickshank, Michael Harley, Dorinda Hulton, Neil Johnston, Wolf Kahler, Judy Monahan (Glasgow), Christopher Ravenscroft, Dinah Stabb (Edinburgh), Paddy Swanson and Rowan Wylie
Stage-manager: Johnny Melville
Yarborough Lincoln, The Close Theatre Club Glasgow, Birmingham Arts Lab, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, Young Vic, Whitgift Film Theatre Grimsby, Chapter Arts Cardiff. Jan 1973 (Lincoln), Jan 23-28 1973 (Glasgow), 8 Feb 1973 (Birmingham), 20 Mar 1973 (Traverse) May 1973 (Theatre Upstairs)
The Three Sisters
Adapted from Anton Chekhov
Director: Nancy Meckler
Cast included: Johnny Melville, Dinah Stabb, Paddy Swanson, Marty Cruickshank and Carole Hayman
Meckler and Aukin’s home, St. Johns Wood LondonApr 1973

Interviewee reference: Nancy Meckler (2017), Emil Wolk (2015), Roy Kift (2013) and Beth Porter (2011)

Existing archival material:  The Nancy Meckler Archive, Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre Museum

Mr Jello: Mercury Theatre, Nicholas De Jongh (undated review Unfinished Histories archive)
The Freehold on man’s inhumanity, Merete Bates The Guardian (22 Nov 1969)
Antigone – review, Nicholas De Jongh The Guardian (22 Nov 1969)
Stimulating Version of Antigone Michael Billington The Times (1 Dec 1969)
Irving Wardle The Times (5 January 1972)
Mary Mary Irving Wardle The Times (2 March 1972)
Made in USA Peter Ansorge Plays and Players (March 1972)
Potted History of the Fringe
, Jonathan Hammond, Theatre Quarterly (No.12, 1973)
Fringe Benefits Janet Watts The Guardian (21 April 1977)
Product into Process Colin Chambers in Dreams and Deconstructions ed. Sandy Craig (Amber Lane, 1980)
The Joint Stock Book: The Making Of A Theatre Collective
Ed. Rob Ritchie (Methuen,1987)
Fringe First: Pioneers of Fringe Theatre
Roland Rees (Oberon Books, 1992)
Devising Performance – a critical history Deirdre Heddon  and Jane Milling (Palgrave,2006)

Acknowledgements: This page was written by David Cleall with thanks to Nancy Meckler for her help with research and accessing photo images from the Nancy Meckler Archive and the V&S Theatre Museum archive.

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