John Hoyland

We would be grateful to hear from anyone who has memories of John Hoyland (d 2015) that they would like to contribute to this page on our web site. John, described by Sheila Rowbotham in her memoir Promise of a Dream as a ‘radical bohemian’, ‘long, blond and skinny, just like his wife, Wisty’. She goes on to describe his Quaker and Communist Party background, edited the Youth CND paper and with Wisty had been caught up in student uprisings in Latin America: ‘one part of him headed after pleasure and fun, while another was responsible and slightly puritanical’. In 1968 Sheila and John met, teaching at Tower Hamlets College, and in 1968 set up Agit Prop Street Players (after disagreements with Roland Muldoon of CAST, who wanted to create an Agit-Pop theatre in response to the 60s culture). They were also on the editorial group of the left-wing journal Black Dwarf (eventually falling out over splits over women’s liberation). That July, John compered the Agit Prop Revolutionary Festival to generate support for the struggle in Vietnam, with the company performing. They went on to do street performances at demonstrations, sit-ins, tenants’ protests, squats and strikes such as Ford Dagenham where they performed Stuff Your Penal (Clause) Up Your Bonus. The company went on to become Red Ladder. John was later involved in Foco Novo co-writing two plays with John Chadwick: The Nine Days and Saltley Gates in 1976 and Tighten Your Belts in 1977, touring the Welsh coalfields. Please email memories or pictures to: