English, Rose (7 of 13). National Life Stories: Artists' Lives
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2005-12-08, 2006-02-03, 2006-04-11, 2006-05-08, 2006-06-05,
Interviewee's home/studio, London
English, Rose, 1950- (speaker, female)
Dyke, Anna, (speaker, female)
Part 7: [Session Four: 8 May 2006] [1:39:18] Oval House workshops on comedy, dance styles; saw work by alternative theatre companies, eg. Sal’s Meat Market, John Bull’s Puncture Repair Kit [JBPRK], The People Show. Lumiere & Son, company started by DG and Hilary Westlake [HW]; invited RE to perform in show at The Rainbow - part of concert by band Henry Cow; RE later worked with musician Lindsay Cooper. RE planning new show, eg. about correlation between Baroque forms, equine spectacle and ballet; started learning about dance. Friend Diana Davies trained at The Place with Sally Potter [SP] and Jacky Lansley [JL], who had started Limited Dance Company. JL and SP introduced RE to dancers Maedee Dupres, Helen Crocker, and Sally Cranfield who appeared in RE’s ‘The Boy Baby’. [06:56] Discusses the term ‘Performance Art’; festivals started to be curated under this banner; but could be restrictive; labels like ‘time-based’, ‘lens-based’; RE’s relationship with these terms. Fluid line between Performance/‘the real’ and theatre. [13:40] Welfare State founder John Fox had been tutor at Leeds; outdoor spectacular events. People Show, improvisatory, anarchic shows in theatres. JBPRK. Lumiere & Son’s work; HW’s training; RE’s involvement. London Contemporary Dance Theatre; Strider formed by Siobhan Davies, Richard Alston, Dennis Greenwood, Ian Spink. RE interested in the body in space, training of the body; had previously known ballet and flamenco. Earlier Fluxus crossover with contemporary dance, eg. Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Rauschenberg. [20:38] RE’s ‘Quadrille’ was conceived for outdoor venue. ‘The Boy Baby’ at Battersea Arts Centre; curator Bill Hutchison; opening season on performance art. RE worked with three dancers and Joseph Blatchley, TWM’s baby son; show about rituals re-children, fairy story ballets. Describes the performance; one minute piece. Joseph now. SP and JL introduced RE to dancers; The Place dance college, students didn’t all have dance backgrounds. Worked for the next year on [Quadrille]; living in Battersea; sewing for vintage clothes shop. [30:20] Performing in others’ shows, eg. Lumiere & Son’s ‘Jack the Flames’ scripted by DG; RE’s role; choreography, lighting; introduction to doing the same thing every night. Describes performance by JL and SP; sense of cinema. SP’s ‘Who Is Sylvia’, large company of dancers. Recognising all sorts of performers with different experience and skills - some wonderful, some dreadful; developing own sense of judgement. Start of RE’s interest in working with different performers in one show. Hadn’t been trained in theatre; didn’t have preconceived criteria. Saw qualities of the performer and/distinct from the overall work. RE not working in a vacuum; discussing opinions, daring each other. [44:39] First meeting JL and SP; SP’s flat in Drummond St; idea to collaborate on a new work - new to RE. Limited Dance Company commission for space in Fitzrovia ‘Artists for Democracy’, artist-run centre; with RE, Sylvia Stevens, Lynn MacRitchie [LM], Judith Katz and TL’s baby Siddie. Serpentine gallery piece; ‘Park Cafeteria’ (1975); sequence of quick performances; excitement of making quick work; improvisatory scenarios, examples. Beginning of learning about Women’s Movement. Audience interaction with ‘Park Cafeteria’. [54:55] ‘Quadrille’; describes process of making the dancers’ costumes, horse tails and horse-hoof shoes; while lodging in TWM’s home. Important that these items were real; had exhibited prototypes as installation at Women’s Free Arts Allowance [WFAA] ‘Sweet Sixteen’ show; WFAA later moved to Cambridge Terrace Mews - where RE briefly had studio. Had to move from Battersea; became squatter with SP; experience of squatting first house in Conway St; evicted by heavies. Stayed at SP’s mother’s home - made ‘Park Cafeteria’, ‘Death and the Maiden’ - before squatting again. RE’s studio; box of objects, work materials, but lost ceramics made at Leeds. JL had been member of Royal Ballet. SP was early member of London Filmmakers Co-Op [LFC] before moving into dance. RE gained interest in theoretical aspect of filmmaking; attended events at LFC; member of Women Artists group started by filmmaker Annabel Nicholson. [1:10:32] 1977/8, squatted house in Northington St; excitement of breaking into building; with SP and LM. SP shot film ‘Thriller’ there; performers; meditation on ‘La Boheme’. [1:14:47] RE’s politicisation via being homeless; awareness of Advisory Service for Squatters; laws. Awareness of feminism and the Women’s Movement; attending conferences on women’s rights; historical context of being a woman artist; talk amongst friends; informed the work; eg. ‘Berlin’, made with SP; four episodes; staged in squat, ice rink and swimming pool. ‘Berlin’ didn’t announce itself as feminist work - compared to other work being made at that time; being formally adventurous was itself political. Describes squat, 41 Mornington Terrace. Wanted to make a work outside of gallery/festival venues, which attracted certain audiences; played with idea of the salon. Process of collaborating; RE’s objects for the show; RE and SP would embolden each other; generating ideas. Performers, a male chorus of different generations; Siddie, DG; Stefan Szczelkun, Kim Parker, Tony Gacon, Colin Wood. Bringing in the audience; lighting; RE’s role; music. Worked on each episode in the week between. [1:31:35] Each episode grew from the one before, architecturally, example. Analysing the work inside the work, example; discussion contained in the work. Not scripted. Swimming naked and talking; Swiss Cottage Baths; acoustics. Importance of lighting; fire on the ice rink ended the performance. Reason for title ‘Berlin’; 1970s, anti-Nazi league demonstrations. [Break for lunch] [1:39:18]