Peta Masters and Geraldine Griffiths wrote a series of plays together in the 1980s. They are perhaps most famously remembered for Wyre’s Cross produced by Mrs Worthington’s Daughters’ Daughters in 1982, but also wrote for Red Ladder, Croydon Warehouse and the Tom Allen centre. Here, in their own words…
1.Short biography of each.
Peta MASTERS is a Jew from Upminster. Before going to RADA, she worked in stage management. After RADA, she worked as an actor in theatre and telly – and started writing with Geraldine. When Masters & Griffiths dissolved, she went to Australia where she produced multimedia and wrote technical manuals. She now lives between Melbourne and London. She’s been trying to learn to skate backwards for a little bit over a year. She’s unemployed at time of writing and open to offers.
Geraldine GRIFFITHS is a Catholic from Liverpool. Before going to RADA, she packed suppositories. After RADA, she eventually worked as an actor in theatre and telly – and started writing with Peta. When Masters & Griffiths dissolved, she got a string of temping jobs and became script editor for a freelance producer. Geraldine still lives in London. She dabbled in archery for a few months last summer but due to a shoulder injury has gone back to typing. Ironically, she works as a careers adviser.
2. How did you meet?
• When? 1977
• Where? At RADA
• Why? Because that’s where the great actresses went in those days.
and start writing together?
• When? 1981
• Where? On tour with Angels of War for Mrs Worthington’s Daughters during a split week between Scunthorpe and Hull.
• Why? Because Anne Engel wanted to do a soap opera for Women Live ’82 and Peta said, “We can write that.” So then we had to.
3. What’s your writing process?
One of us says a line. Then we finish each other’s sentences until we’ve got something that makes us both laugh.
and also your writing process with the companies you were writing for?
We tailor-made the plays for the companies – or tried to. For example, we wrote Shirley Holmes and the Case of the Spanish Indian because Caroline Eves wanted to get an Equity card for a woman who was a Spanish Indian by birth. Unfortunately, she was an Indian from India and we wrote a native American called Running Water or something. Caroline Eves’ protégé was all wrong – but it was easier to recast than write a new musical.
4. When did you stop writing together?
Have you ever been holed up in a room with somebody for three months trying to write three hours worth of TV sketch comedy material when the average sketch is only one minute long? In the end we didn’t know what was funny any more. We got to the point where we had a kind of ‘swear box’. If you couldn’t come up with a funny line you had to put 10p in the box. We couldn’t afford to carry on.
5. Your fees.
Put it this way – The Two Ronnies weren’t renegotiating their contracts in the light of what Theatre Venture was paying us.
6. Anything else you want to say about the work relevant to alternative theatre and other theatre of the 1968-88 period and your work?
Mrs Worthington’s Daughters was a very serious feminist theatre company. We wrote Wyre’s Cross to make them laugh. They became the third person in the room. Everything we wrote after that we’d ask each other, “Would the Worthies approve?” If the answer was “no” we kept it in!
Mrs Worthington's Daughters' Daughters
Director: Angela Langfiled
Cast: Keith Casburn, Stacey Charlesworth, Cordelia Ditton, Anne Engel, Geraldine Griffiths
Clive Mantle, Jo Masters, Karen Meagher, Vivienne Moore, Erika Poole, Jill Stanford, Paul Toner
Designer: Claudia Mayer
Musical Director: Jo Masters
|Late nights Drill Hall with repeats and Omnibus at the Kings Head
Croydon Warehouse Deliveries
Director: Rod Lewis
|Croydon Warehouse and tour
|Shirley Holmes and the Case of the Spanish Indian
Director: Caroline Eves
|Tom Allen Centre
|Tour in Yorkshire, various venues
|Tom Allen Centre
|Wyre's Cross 2
Commissioned and written for Drill Hall
|Gone the Heaven (Back Soon)
Commissioned by Red Ladder
Rehearsed reading for Not the RSC Festival with Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman and Fiona Shaw
Later performed by final year students at Essex University
Essex University, Colchester
|The Pia and Gill Show written for themselves
Director: Angela Langfield
Pub at Elephant & Castle
See Mrs Worthington’s Daughters for more information and reviews of Wyre’s Cross.
To raise money for Wyre’s Cross a number of trading companies were persuaded to sponsor ‘live ads’ performed by the Wyre’s Cross company during the ‘commercial breaks’. Some were recorded and can be viewed here:
Courage Best ad
Country Life Butter ad
Anne Engel speaks of Wyre’s Cross in her Unfinished Histories interview.
In 2012, a 30th anniversary edition of Wyre’s Cross was published. To order a copy: www.lulu.com/shop/masters-griffiths/wyres-cross/paperback/product-20075072
This page was written by Peta Masters and Geraldine Griffiths and constructed by Jessica Higgs, 2013.