Julie Parker Topics List

Julie Parker Topics List  taken from her interview with Susan Croft,19th July 2007, recorded by Arlan Harris.
Video and audio extracts edited by Jessica Higgs.

Personal background
Growing up on Derby/ Notts borders
Aunt instrumental influence taking her to theatre
Nottingham Playhouse under John Neville
School visits from Theatre Centre and others
Grammar school difficulties
First becoming aware of her sexuality
Foundation course at Clarendon College, Nottingham
Influence of drama teacher and National Youth Theatre

Study and early beginnings in gay theatre
Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD)
Becoming aware she was a lesbian, meeting Nancy Diuguid– first out gay person in drama school
Fringe theatre
Any Woman Can  – meeting Kate Crutchley, Jill Posener
Importance of actresses actually identifying  themselves as lesbians today
Frustrations with CSSD – lack of acknowledgement of change and the fringe
Gay Sweatshop: Drew Griffiths, Mister X and
Any Woman Can as part of Almost Free under Ed Berman.
Touring Ionesco with Plumbline Theatre Company (Moira Kelly), 1976
Squatted house off the King’s Rd with 2 lions
Coming out to her aunt
Social context – work and housing
ACGB (Arts Council Great Britain) supportive
Criticism of ACE now e.g. position of Drill Hall – wanting them to be exclusively lesbian and gay
Gay Sweatshop – collective politics, controversy in Ireland, conflagration in Leicester,
swapping parts, importance for gay / lesbian audiences
Any Woman Can, Mary Moore’s design, Helen Barnaby as Jinny
The Jingleball, Drew Griffith’s Christmas show at ICA, JP as the Lavender Fairy– conflagration at the ICA
Starts doing admin

Action Space Women’s Festival (1977)
Very first Women’s Festival in UK / Europe
Living in the building for about 4 months
Women involved included – Marguerite McLaughlan, Kate Crutchley,
Mary Moore, Nancy Diuguid, Helen Vivien, Maria Lewar[?],
Programme included – Meg Christian, Teresa Trubb (Olivia Records),
Voices by Susan Griffin, Faith Gillespie, Kate Crutchely directed
9 a.m. to midnight, 100s of women came from all over
Lesbian sex films (educational!), Honey Lee Cattrell
Relationship with Women’s movement, Earlham Street collective
Predominantly lesbian event

Action Space
Mary Turner and Ken Turner – site specific artists
Outdoor structures and music, creating spaces for art, music, dance etc,
Kids playground work, some performance in the building e.g. Phantom Captain
Women’s Festival took over while they were in Europe
JP stays to take on programming for Jeremy Shine – became part of the collective
Well-funded by ACGB.

Julie as Theatre Programmer
The Heartache and Sorrow Show from NZ – Cathy Downes, Di Robson Building splinters into art-form specific groupings.
ACGB start to make cuts and it became 3 separate entities: Action Space London Events, Action Space Mobile and Central London Arts Ltd.
High profile especially for lesbian and gay work
JP moving into programming / producing role
Role of GLC (Greater London Council)
Building of theatre with GLC money, bar etc
Staging of Pack of Women, political cabaret with Robyn Archer
JP and Jill Posener living on top floor
Punch and Judy directed by David Freeman (Opera Factory)
Involvement of Gail Vezey, Jessica Leo (Singapore Festival)
Action Space Mobile moved  to Sheffield
Action Space London Events went to East End – pioneering work with special needs adults and children in hospitals etc, soft play rooms, ball pits,
inflatables as art etc.

The Drill Hall- history as army drill hall, 1884 Bloomsbury Rifle Regiment
Staging Noel Greig’s Poppies there
Priority given women’s theatre, Black and Asian companies
Relationship of audience to space
Use by CWTDA etc.
Lack of barriers – involvement, actors available and articulate
Media involvement
Anarchic workshop programme and recent necessary change in this area – now much more linked to theatre programme

Development of the building over time
Association with women’s and lesbian and gay theatre, later queer theatre – what has changed
Change of language used, bureaucracy, artists treated with disdain for wanting to create women-defined theatre

What has changed over 30 years?
Theatre more sophisticated, access to technology, stylistically
Questions for conference on lesbian, gay and queer theatre – does it inform or define the artist?
Neil Bartlett
Reclaiming the work – what is queer, LGBT, and others – transgender arts community is now huge
Part of wider political change, single issue work, politicised not political

Development over the years
Argument and discussion as central to the working of the Drill Hall
Controversy over Split Britches – especially over acceptable representation of sexuality – SM sex etc,
Lois Weaver as early lipstick lesbian
No party line, structure of lesbian movement and women’s movement – cf El Quaida – cell structure
International Women’s Conference at Conway Hall, Sharon Nassauer,
Memorable moments and recent changes:
Split Britches, Monstrous Regiment
Description of Pack of Women – classy theatre
Drill Hall – fantastic theatre comes first, then politics

Women’s pantomimes
Cheryl Moch’s Cinderella, controversy and reception
Foregrounding existing sub-text of panto
Later ones with Nona [Shepphard] and Bryony [Lavery] for 10 years
Reinvented in 1997 as In the Parlour with the Ladies
Bryony Lavery flying as Tinkerbell
Audience complaints
Not promoted as lesbian – linked with ACE demand that they clarify

Centrality of education programme now
Touring Jackie Kay’s Trumpet
Focus on homophobic bullying, links with It’s Queer Up North,
Generation of work within the building
International work such as Split Britches, Tim Miller, companies in Australia, Iceland (changed the law in Iceland), USA
Fiona Shaw’s first professional performance at DH as stand up lesbian nun, while still at RADA, Guest Stars band, French and Saunders, Five Lesbian Brothers, Bloolips, Hot Peaches, Wandsworth Warmers, Ruby Tuesday Productions.
Commissioning of Belle Reprieve, lesbians and gay men, Split Britches and Bloolips, English and American styles meeting Ridiculous Theatrical Company

Running the building
Team at Drill Hall, policy for paying actors, roles within the building including hers and how it’s changed, bureaucracy
Sponsorship, fundraising and use of building for TV and radio recordings

How having 3 children has or hasn’t changed how she works? Is it appropriate to ask about?
Drill Hall’s childcare policy
Family friendly policy

Reasserting identity as a lesbian feminist
Drill Hall today
Lesbian workshops at the venue
Drill Hall as professional organisation also centrality of fun
Memories of Nancy Diuguid
Nona [Shepphard]
Ruby Tuesday
The Marriage Bed  with Parminder Sekkon,
Relationship of DH and Oval House in 70s and 80s.
Relationship with Board
DH Archive and its accessibility

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