Kate Crutchley Topics List

Kate Crutchley Topics List taken from her interview with Susan Croft, April 2007 recorded by Arlan Harris.
Video and audio extracts edited by Jessica Higgs.

Personal background
Born Wolverhampton 1944
Mum and Dad
Convent grammar school
Wanted to be an actress after seeing Olivier in Henry V
Studied at Birmingham School of Speech and Drama
Repertory Theatre in Derby
TV series
With Mary Moore at Orange Tree, Richmond, The Lady and the Tiger, musical, transferred to West End

Female Transport
Play by Steve Gooch at Half Moon, directed Ron Daniels

Gay Sweatshop
Jill Posener and Any Woman Can
Rehearsed reading at Leicester with Miriam Margolyes
Established Gay Sweatshop Women’s Company
ICA, 5 months, plays by Andrew Davies and Martin Sherman with Gay Sweatshop and Age of Consent
Importance of audience reaction – discussions in which audiences found fellow lesbians for the first time

Came out publicly at ICA
Job discrimination and custody cases were key issues for lesbians in audience

Care and Control
Part improvised, part court case – Michelene Wandor
Cast: Kate Phelps, Helen Barnaby, Sarah Holiday, John Gillett,
The Women’s Project, 1978
Aid Thy Neighbour
Cast: John Gillett, Nina Ward
Pastiche of West End play.
Inter-relationships of women over artificial insemination

Confinement, documentary play on women in prison, 1978 directed, Nancy Diuguid(ND)

Women’s Festival 1977
Voices by Susan Griffin at Drill Hall (then Action Space) directed by ND as central festival piece
Huge programme –
Nicole Freni, Jam Today, Victoria Wood, Frankie Armstrong, Maggie Nicolls
Julie Parker: workshops
Mary Moore and Barbara Britten: art and craft exhibitions
Ria Novell: photography
Companies included: Three Marias, Cunning Stunts, Michele Frankel
First experience of programming

Joyce Halliday (JH, aka Joyce Cheeseman) scripted Domestic Front
Cast: Nina Ward and Eleanor Forsyth who had been in Tony Garnett’s film Prostitute with KC

Birmingham Arts Lab
David Edgar and directing Teendreams, devised by him and (Lily) Susan Todd for Monstrous Regiment

Documentary Training at Stoke, 1979
ACE (Arts Council England) bursary with Peter Cheeseman
KC and Joyce Halliday on women in Potteries piece
JH and Silverdale community play on Fanny Deakin
Oral history interviews and radio phone-in
Difference between documentary and political theatre

Theatre Programmer, Oval
Bohemian Rhapsody by Sue Frumin
Spoof panto, directed by KC at Oval
Witty design by Kate Owen, Caroline John, music
Brief history of Oval as boys club and as Arts Lab under Peter Oliver
Relationship with Christchurch, Oxford
Performance art groups: People Show, Bloolips, Forkbeard Fantasy, Ian Hinchcliffe. Workshops and Christmas projects (Alphie Pritchard), children’s project for playgroups (Roz Price), carnival camp
Booking policy – emphasised women and gay and lesbian including especially Black and Asian, performance art, work that was doing something different

Existing policy
Work-in-progress in Upstairs Theatre, emphasis on right to fail, trying things out and getting feedback
Policy of non-verbal theatre, innovative forms
Open to suggestions from others – Neil Bartlett suggests The Anna Project from Canada, or Tattycoram
Split Britches
Struggle to programme dance
Problems being used as a launch-pad by companies who moved on
Problems of technical demands of frequent changes of company and short runs
Lambeth funded the building and work with children
Arts Council funded the space and work as ‘seed-bed’
Her personal highlights include: Centre Ocean Stream, directed by Barbara Harrow, Make Up, Intimate Strangers
Scarlet Harlets, Burnt Bridges, Red Rag – Spin/ Stir

KC Directing and Directed
Women’s Theatre Group- KC directed Anywhere to Anywhere by JH
Character Ladies set up to produce Ladies of the Vale, directed by Tessa Schneidemann with Stella Duffy and Imogen Ryall
Patience and Sarah, developed by company and adapted from Isobel Miller book by Joyce Halliday
Directed Sue Frumin’s Rabbit in a Trap . Sue Frumin’s other plays : The House Trample and Home Sweet Home

KC and politics
Theatre person who’d gone into political theatre rather than an activist gone into theatre
Political model, Dr Strangelove
Gay Sweatshop – Conservative MP tried to stop Age of Consent
Getting into politics and feminism
Criticism by feminists on other feminists
KC theatre tastes

Gay Sweatshop and Drill Hall
Jingleball, panto with Tom Robinson, Michael Richmond
Nancy Diuguid (ND) and KC as Cinderella and Ms Charming
Drew Griffiths (DG) and Gordon as Ugly Sisters
Contrasted with DG as Mister X
Relationship with Drill Hall
Eclipse directed by KC at Drill Hall (DH) with Hazel Maycock, Marguerite McLaughlan
International work at Oval included Polish and Dutch

Nancy Diuguid (ND)
Any Woman Can
Birmingham Arts Lab. ND directed Tissue by Louise Page with KC in it
ND worked at Hampstead, Women’s Theatre Group, ENO, doing opera and also community projects in South Africa, work at drama schools, with ex-offenders at Clean Break. A visionary. Emphasis on outsiders, people without a voice
KC directing new writing, administration, gay theatre
Clean Break (Jacqueline Holborough) and Theatre of Black Women came out of Rose Bruford

KC has a collection of scripts some published, some not
Some posters at Oval
Vauxhall Manor School projects
Motherland, documentary theatre / oral history project, African-Caribbean school girls interviewed grandmothers, Elyse Dodgson co-ordinated, Marcia Smith organised, played and sang
Previous projects: Slave Girl
Impact of living memory projects very powerful and moving
Age Exchange What Did you Do in the War Mummy?

Black women’s theatre
Theatre of Black Women, Options Ltd, Bonnie Greer, Lennie St Luce
Often lyrical, poetic, rather than ‘plays’, experimental self-expression / performance art
Ntozake Shange’s For colored girls who have considered suicide, when the rainbow’s not enuf
Lindsay Kemp and gay men
Gay men’s work: Philip Osment, Noel Greig, Gay dance work: Lloyd Newson,
The Softies from Holland, retro piece, schools’ Aids project, Bloolips

Changes at Oval over period 1981-1991
Funding scares: funders wanted an administrator rather than programmer
Duchy of Cornwall wanted to redevelop the site and building was threatened with closure
Redevelopment of café etc
New funding crisis – all made redundant and job descriptions redefined
KC chose not to re-apply

Other work
Whitechapel drama school, directing Female Transport
Teaching at Canterbury, Antioch, Rose Bruford, Mountview
Work with Brian Astbury, ex-Market Theatre of Johannesburg
Acting: TV series for Hong Kong-based company and other TV
Clare Summerskill

Feelings about having left Oval
Had grown tired of emotional wrangling over when she should be in Oval
Need to do FOH, see shows and direct
Difficulty of seeing work outside due to time
Stand-out moments – Elaine Loudoun as Mitzi Wildebeest, Philip Osment’s one-man show, using masks, The Glee Club, Intimate Strangers, Motherland

Patience and Sarah
Special experience
Getting rights

KC’s sense of her achievements at Oval House- and later work
Lots of women given a chance, opportunities to create new collaborations
Different cultural groups given a chance: Tara Arts youth projects, British Asian Theatre
Forkbeard Fantasy

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