Joan Littlewood, 'mother of modern British theatre'

Witness History

By BBC World Service

Joan Littlewood, 'mother of modern British theatre'

Tuesday, 20 October

The working class woman who shook up the British theatre establishment in the 1950s and 60s. Joan Littlewood introduced improvisation and helped break down class barriers. She set up a theatre in a working class area in the east end of London which put on plays written by amateur writers and actors, many without classical training. She delighted in the fact that the laziest person in the company might be working class and the poshest the one scrubbing the stage. She went on to create successes such as 'Oh! What a Lovely War' and 'A Taste of Honey'. Claire Bowes has been talking to her friend and biographer, Peter Rankin. Photo: Joan Littlewood outside the Theatre Royal Stratford in 1974 (Press Association)
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