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'Once upon a time, the London theatre was a charming mirror held up to cosiness. Then came Joan Littlewood, smashing the glass, blasting the walls, letting the wind of life blow in a rough, but ready, world. Today, we remember this irresistible force with love and gratitude.' (Peter Brook)
Along with Peter Brook, Joan Littlewood, affectionately termed 'The Mother of Modern Theatre', has come to be known as the most galvanising director of mid-twentieth-century Britain, as well as a founder of so many of the practices of contemporary theatre. The best-known work of Littlewood's company, Theatre Workshop, included the development and premieres of Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey, Brendan Behan's The Hostage and The Quare Fellow, and the seminal Oh What A Lovely War.
This autobiography, originally published in 1994, offers an unparalleled first-hand account of Littlewood's extraordinary life and career, from illegitimate child in south-east London to one of the most influential directors and practitioners of our times. It is published along with an introduction by Philip Hedley CBE, previously Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East and Assistant Director to Joan Littlewood.
Joan Littlewood (1914 - 2002) was one of the foremost directors of our time and founder of the iconic theatre company Theatre Workshop, most famous for Oh What A Lovely War. Her left-wing politics and commitment to enabling theatre to reach the working classes meant that this was a keen preoccupation in all of her work and methods. She was famous for her anti-Establishment, radical theatre work that defied the censorship laws of the mid-twentieth century and gained the company a great deal of attention and acumen.
Philip Hedley was Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East for twenty-five years from 1979 to 2004. Upon his departure, the Theatre Royal named him Director Emeritus. He was a founding student of E15 Acting School and later in his career taught and staged productions there and at LAMDA, RADA, Rose Bruford and Drama Centre in the UK, the Vancouver Playhouse Drama School and the National Institute for Drama in Sydney. He ran Lincoln Theatre Royal for three years from 1968 to 1971, during which time he directed and/or produced over fifty productions. He went on to be director of the Midlands Arts Theatre Company, followed by two years as Assistant Director to Joan Littlewood and Assistant Administrator to her partner, Gerry Raffles, at Theatre Royal Stratford East.