making theatre histories for the future
We are interested in the double nature of theatre: the ability of the contemporary stage to make present histories that have been mislaid, erased or lost over time.
Our aim is to solicit and produce works that project the past into the future.
Lesley Ferris, an artist/scholar, has directed more than 60 productions in the U.K., South Africa and the U.S.A. In 1979 she co-founded Mouth and Trousers Theatre Company in Camden Town where she directed and produced several new writing showcases of women’s plays. More recently she conceived The Camouflage Project: A Devised Performance|Exhibition, with Mary Tarantino (OSU Theatre), which focused on the role of women agents in Britain’s undercover activity in German occupied France in World War II (May 2011). The production toured to Washington, D.C. in June 2012. She co-curated (with Adela Ruth Tompsett, London) an exhibition entitled Midnight Robbers: The Artists of Notting Hill Carnival (City Hall, London 2007), which toured in the USA. Her books include Acting Women: Images of Women in Theatre and Crossing the Stage: Controversies on Cross Dressing. Her most recent book, co-edited with Penny Farfan, is Contemporary Women Playwrights: Into the Twenty-First Century (2013).
Phoebe Ferris-Rotman is passionate about theatre. She grew up in both London and the United States, inspiring her to create a transatlantic theatre company. She most recently worked as associate producer at Boundless Theatre in London. Over the past few years she has held roles at Artis, a performing arts education company, at the UK-wide Shakespeare Schools Festival and helped run workshops at London's Tricycle Theatre. She has also worked as a researcher on the Unfinished Histories archive project, documenting the British alternative theatre movement from 1968-1988. Phoebe began her career in events management and marketing, where she worked for several years for institutions ranging from small charities to large corporations. In 2014 she completed an MA degree in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck, University of London, where she researched recent developments in education departments in British theatres for her dissertation. While there she won funding from Birkbeck to produce the talk ‘The role of the digital producer in the UK theatre today’.
For me the Theatre is by definition the stage where the living meet and confront the dead, the forgotten and the forgetters, the buried and the ghosts, the present, the passing, the present past and the passed past. There is nothing more Theatre than a great City of the Dead. It is a stage through which all the characters of a story make their appearance, from the most ancient, the most distant in the centuries down to the most contemporary, from the imaginary, the invented, the lost found again down to the real familiars. The dead are not always as dead as we think nor the living as living as they think.
—Hélène Cixous, “Enter the Theatre”
from Selected Plays of Hélène Cixous (2004)
Performers from debut production The First Actress, Smallhythe Place, Kent
9 August 2014