On Sunday 10th November 2013 Scottish actor Bill Patterson opens the first exhibition celebrating the Alternative Theatre Movement of the sixties, seventies and eighties at Ovalhouse.
The exhibition runs until 20th December before transferring to Camden Local History Library and Archives, High Holborn in early 2014. Before becoming a popular face on stage, film and television, Bill Patterson was a founding member of John McGrath’s 7:84 company whose 1970s work The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black Black Oil had a significant effect on post-war British Theatre.
Over a twenty-year period from 1968 to the late 1980s, a theatre movement flourished in the UK that was to overturn the old order of the drama establishment and offer alternatives that were artistically revolutionary and politically radical. It was to take theatre way beyond the constraints of the old playhouses and into new and unexpected arenas, finding wider audiences with work that was both accessible and challenging. In 1968, with a newfound liberation granted by the lifting of old censorship laws administered by the Lord Chamberlain, theatre-makers became free to express any agenda they chose. Companies were created and work was staged for groups who had hitherto been unrepresented by the old order. Feminist theatre was born, work by gay, black, Asian and disability groups was made and fiercely agit-prop, inclusive community, TIE and experimental companies burgeoned until the funding crisis of the mid 1980s forced most companies to close. This movement became known as Alternative Theatre and its effects resound still in the theatre of today.
Unfinished Histories – Re-Staging Revolutions is an exhibition and series of talks that focuses on Lambeth and Camden, two key London Boroughs that were central to the movement. Produced by Unfinished Histories with support from Heritage Lottery Fund, it charts the history of the alternative theatre movement of the 60s, 70s and 80s. The exhibition features companies with such evocative names as Hesitate and Demonstrate, The Phantom Captain, Sadista Sisters, Recreation Ground, Umoja and Monstrous Regiment and is dedicated to the memory of Kate Crutchley, Oval Theatre Programmer 1981-91. On display are rare archives from the period and extensive interviews with the key practitioners of the movement who shed light on the creative practices and motivations of this amazing period. A programme of talks will accompany the exhibition comprising:
Monday 18th November: Oval in the 1960s and 70s
Including key Oval staff from the period Sue Timothy (former Arts Council Officer), Judith Knight (Co-Director ArtsAdmin), Paddy Fletcher (Incubus). More details and panelists to be announced
Tuesday 3rd December: Oval in the 80s: a tribute to Kate Crutchley
Participants will include Eve Polycarpou and Martha Lewis (formerly Donna and Kebab), Karen Parker and Debbie Klein (formerly Parker and Klein), Sarah McNair, Sue Frumin, Sayan Kent and Rebecca Clow (formerly Hot Doris) and will celebrate her achievement including key plays that Kate brought to the Oval.
Kate Crutchley who died in August 2013 was Theatre Programmer at Oval House from 1981-1991 where she commissioned, programmed and directed, with her company Character Ladies an exhilarating programme of new work including women’s theatre, gay and lesbian plays, black and Asian work, experimental performance and various combinations of all of these. She encouraged the careers of numerous practitioners and her influence on new theatre of the period was immense
Thursday 5th December: Theatre Centre play reading event
As part of the groundbreaking theatre for young people company’s 60th anniversary plays featuring extracts from plays from 1968-88 by David Holman, Noel Greig, Lisa Evans and others.
www.theatre-centre.co.uk for further details
Friday 6th December: Black Theatre in London in the 70s and 80s
Looking at a range of work including the first dedicated Black Theatre season in Britain at the Ambiance Lunchtime Theatre in 1970, Black Theatre of Brixton, Theatre of Black Women, Carib Theatre, Foco Novo, Umoja and many more.
Speakers include: Chair: Olusola Oyeleye, Anton Phillips, Gordon Case, Bernardine Evaristo
52-54 Kennington Oval
London SE11 5SW
Thursday 7th November 2013