Anne Engel Topics List

Anne Engel Topics List taken from her interview with Susan Croft, June 2007, recorded by Arlan Harris.
Video and audio extracts edited by Jessica Higgs.

Early Years
Desire to be a ballet dancer
Nomadic background, travelling the world, settling in France
Involvement in youth theatre in France
Parents – American – involved in UNHCR / migration and Jewish issues

Study and first work experiences
Degree in French and Italian
Involvement in London University Drama Society
Editorial Assistant on Theatre Quarterly
Reader for Royal Court
Training at Drama Studio, Ealing

Early work in alternative theatre companies
West London Theatre Workshop, director Bruce Birchall – agit-prop
AE’s political background – peace protests
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (i.e. Workers)
Only women in a male-dominated casts
Mikron Theatre Co. – plays on and about canals
King’s Head, playing glamorous women

Women’s Street Theatre
Performing on marches e.g. for abortion rights
The Equal Pay Show – Punching Judies
Members included: Michele Roberts, Lyn Layram, Barbara Poona
Filmed by Women’s Film Group
Performing at festivals and women’s events
Agit-prop and Grand Guignol
Involvement of Buzz Goodbody
Audience e.g. Trade unions
Class debates within the group

Women’s Theatre
Almost-Free Theatre, ED Berman and the Women’s Theatre Season
Weekly planning meetings
Involvement of Pam Gems, Dinah Brook
Division within the group
Lynn Ashley registers the title Women’s Theatre Group (WTG)
WTG get Arts Council funding

Early years of Women’s Theatre Group
My Mother Said I Never Should (WTG)
Collective organisation, devising and directing
Company: Clair Chapman, Julia Meadows, Mica Nava,
Jean Hart, Lyn Ashley
Filmed by ILEA
Discussions and workshops and responses

Fantasia (WTG) at Oval House Upstairs
Exploring contrasting fantasies of two women
Counters puritanical image of women’s movement
Addressed: body image, aspirations, issues of confidence
Use of multi-media and songs by Jean Hart

Out on the Costa Del Trico (WTG)
Divisions over importance of message and effectiveness as theatre
Employment of freelance directors and designers by collective
Context: first equal pay strike, led by Asian women
WTG did not use Asian actors
Script based on interviews
Women’s Movement ‘tortured’ by issues of class

The Three Marias (1973)
Staged by a separate group, later involved in women’s theatre:
Natasha Morgan, AE, Nancy Diuguid, Ann Mitchell and Faith Gillespie
Based on New Portuguese Letters, banned in Portugal, one of simultaneous international performances given in different cities
Performance text translated by Faith Gillespie

Pretty Ugly (WTG)
Use of songs
Disharmony in the group and co-operative structure
Funding of WTG, touring – accommodation

Equity Branch movement
Involvement in Equity’s North London branch
Research into number of roles for women in TV, theatre etc
Leaving WTG

Mrs Worthington’s Daughters
Set up by actors – Anne Engel, Stacey Charlesworth, Maggie Wilkinson, Steve Ley and Julie Holledge, director and PhD student
Company driven by process and values of form
Structured as a production company, not a collective
Mission to rediscover forgotten work by women
Core values: friendship, pleasure and rediscovery – fun as absolute priority

The Oracle by Susannah Cibber, performed outdoors at Lauderdale House
Production of The Oracle in bill with JM Barrie’s The Twelve-Pound Look and Margaret Wynne Nevinson’s In the Workhouse

Aurora Leigh, adapted by Michelene Wandor from Elizabeth Barrett
Browning’s poem, designed by Mary Moore at Royal Court Upstairs and on tour
ACGB funding, quality of Arts Officers e.g Ruth Marks, Jodie Myers
Show and description
BBC radio adaptation without involvement of Mrs WD

Rutherford and Son by Githa Sowerby at Royal Court Upstairs and tour
Later productions fail to acknowledge Mrs W’s Ds involvement

Angels of War by Muriel Box, directed by Angela Langfield
Themes. Meeting Muriel Box, her support

Alison’s House by Susan Glaspell, directed by Julie Holledge
Drill Hall and tour

Working pattern of company
Mrs W’s Ds operating in response to failings of collective response

Mrs Worthington’s Daughters’ Daughters
Follow-up company
Wyres Cross by Peta Masters and Geraldine Griffiths (involved in Angels of War), amalgam of soap operas, performed at two venues in 4 episodes
Live commercials for real products
Process and description

Greece, work-in-progress, from Jenny Spritz outline, Gods in control of media

Death of Ruth Marks, ACGB officer
Loss of funding because work ‘too frivolous’

Further career
Jobbing actor and its problems
Co-operative actors’ agency
EU funded job on researching employment opportunities
Youth work with The Prince’s Trust on arts-based work and other arts-related work

Personal legacy and legacy of women’s theatre groups
No division between personal and professional
Problems of touring
Optimism about women today
Coming out / sexuality issues
Class issues
Race issues

Women Live / Women in Entertainment
Significance of their starting pre-email and internet
Professional operation and later volunteers
GLC funding, issues around spending funding

Social networks from that time
Impact on women networks
Influence of individual women e.g Nancy Diuguid
Lack of interest in theatre today
Quality of youth arts but lack of opportunities to take risks

Documentation of Mrs Worthington’s Daughters
Archive material

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