Sheila Allen Topics List

Sheila Allen Topics List taken from her interview with Susan Croft, March 2008, recorded by Loren Berlinka.
Video and audio extracts edited by Jessica Higgs.

Personal background and upbringing
Born Somerset, moved Hertfordshire
Ballet classes, elocution
RADA at 17

Experience at RADA, living in London
Contemporary with Joan Collins, Margaret Tyzack
Saw The Chalk Garden and The Lady’s Not for Burning  (Richard Burton)

First jobs after RADA
Fairy Queen at Covent Garden
East Devon Rep, Newton Poppleford –
2 weekly rep in village hall of West End shows
Arena Theatre, Birmingham. John English (Director) –
1st company in Big Top, touring, good Shakespeare roles
Rock Players, Yeovil, fortnightly rep
Bristol, Rapier Players
Bristol Old Vic, John Moody (Director), Great Expectations,
Peter O’Toole and John Woodvine

Inspiration of Margaret Leighton
Actors Workshop in London, David de Keyser,
Al Mullock, studied twice a week
Philip Saville, Saturday Night Theatre, Richard Pasco,
Sean Connery, live TV
Didn’t have looks of the time

Possibilities of the London Scene then
TV commissioning Osborne, Pinter, Wesker, Mercer
One off plays
Royal Court high in prestige
Hall, Brook and Barton at RSC

Meeting Jane Arden and working with her
Jane Arden, Philip Saville (husband), Saturday Night Theatre
Pregnant, deciding to have baby
Being a single parent at that time

1968 political revolution
Kent State, Beatles, Paris
Meeting husband
Sylvia Plath event
Married 1964, second child 1966

Women’s Liberation Groups
Involved with local groups
ICA, Plath, reading with stripper
Monday night women’s meetings, Belsize Park
Recommended ‘books to read’ – The Second Sex
Experience at hospital as unmarried mother
Action of her women’s group

Jane Arden, Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven
Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven, Jim Haynes, Victor
Spinetti, Arts Lab and what went on there
Jane Arden, women’s oppression
Father’s legacy, WW1 &2
Speaking out as a feminist

Decision to use feminism in work
More time with children when they were young
Juggling work and home life, divorce
Split in Jane Ardens’ marriage, Jack Bond

The Other Side of the Underneath, Jane Arden
Description of the highs and lows of this film
Missing out on The Onedin Line
Buzz Goodbody, King Lear
Queen Christina by Pam Gems

Shoulder to Shoulder, TV series,
On Women’s Suffrage, how it came about,
Georgia Brown, Sian Philips

Queen Christina cont.
Pam Gems, men at RSC didn’t like doing a women’s play
Penny Cherns (director)

Teaching career
Taught at 16 by Muriel Sinclair, very inspirational
How she began teaching, Norman Ayrton, LAMDA
Try to link British and American styles of acting
Using work that she was taught
Working with students

Other acting work
Volumnia (Coriolanus) in Canada, The Devils, The Last Yankee,
Death of a Salesman with Janet Suzman

Feminism today
Problem between women and men

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