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The Court

Richard Eyre

23 September 1993
The Long Distance Runner 
by Tony Richardson.
Faber, 277 pp., £17.50, September 1993, 0 571 16852 3
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... territory with a dogged devotion. Although the theatre is a medium that exists entirely in the present tense, it is not immune to the arcadian virus: ‘the National Theatre at the Old Vic’ and ‘JoanLittlewood at Stratford East’ are robust strains, and in the case of JoanLittlewood I believe that there was a ‘genius’, an innocent virtue, that can never be replicated. The work that is done ...

Demi-Paradises

Gabriele Annan

7 June 1984
Milady Vine: The Autobiography of Philippe de Rothschild 
edited by Joan Littlewood.
Cape, 247 pp., £10.95, June 1984, 0 224 02208 3
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I meant to marry him: A Personal Memoir 
by Jean MacGibbon.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 575 03412 2
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... he had made her pregnant. He is now 82, so it is not surprising he needed help with all this material. How lucky he was in his ghost: not some wan emanation from a publisher’s stable, but punchy JoanLittlewood, formerly the director of the Theatre Royal, Stratford East and the co-author of Sparrers can’t sing and O What a lovely war. She writes with tremendous verve and seems to get the Baron ...

At Tate Modern (and elsewhere)

Peter Campbell: How architects think

21 July 2005
... In Price’s case, the ratio of influence to real buildings was about as high as you can get: the only major work his name is attached to is the aviary at the London Zoo, yet the ideas he and JoanLittlewood developed around the Fun Palace project prefigured and influenced the Piano and Rogers design for the Pompidou Centre. He also suggested the equivalent of the London Eye in a study of what might be ...

Stalking Out

David Edgar: After John Osborne

20 July 2006
John Osborne: A Patriot for Us 
by John Heilpern.
Chatto, 528 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 7011 6780 7
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... wet”’; Stratford East celebrated the festive energy of the put-upon and the oppressed, for whom the Sunday papers meant something quite different. Under the maverick genius of its director, JoanLittlewood, Stratford East was the secondary modern to Sloane Square’s grammar school. The Royal Court put writers at the centre; Littlewood put directors and actors at the forefront (textual ...

Snarling

Frank Kermode: Angry Young Men

28 November 2002
The Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 7139 9532 7
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... in, as the man who worked the miracle and revived a moribund theatre. The Entertainer does manage to be a transparent allegory of both social and theatrical decay. Some of the recent obituaries of JoanLittlewood have suggested that she should have had the credit for that renaissance. These matters may be, indeed usually are, overdetermined, but simpler explanations are handier, and in recent years ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: An Unexpected Experience

6 December 1984
... myself up and cried as I had done twenty years ago: ‘Oh! Oh! Oh, what a lovely war!’ I doubt whether most of the audience recognised the allusion, but it gave me my exit line. How I wish that JoanLittlewood would produce Oh, what a lovely war again. But I fear it has vanished. I am glad to think that my copy of ‘Oh, what a lovely war’ is the best preserved of my gramophone records. I look ...

From culture to couture

Penelope Gilliatt

21 February 1985
The ‘Vogue’ Bedside Book 
edited by Josephine Ross.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 09 158520 1
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The Art of Zandra Rhodes 
by Anne Knight and Zandra Rhodes.
Cape, 240 pp., £18, November 1984, 0 395 37940 7
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... QC of his calibre is a born interviewer, of course, though it took editors years to cotton on to the idea. Among the short stories, I struck old memories of Brendan Behan. Before he was discovered by JoanLittlewood, he used to wander into my office and say he would write me a short story if he could have 25 guineas. I would write him a cheque on my wages, perfectly certain he would come up with the ...

Expendabilia

Hal Foster: Reyner Banham

9 May 2002
Reyner Banham: Historian of the Immediate Future 
by Nigel Whiteley.
MIT, 494 pp., £27.50, January 2002, 0 262 23216 2
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... but, finally, with its ‘rounded corners, hip, gay, synthetic colours and pop-culture props’, Archigram was ‘in the image business’. Like the Fun Palace project (1961-67) designed by Price for JoanLittlewood and her Theatre Workshop, Plug-in City offered ‘an image-starved world a new vision of the city of the future, a city of components . . . plugged into networks and grids’. Perhaps ...
7 August 1980
Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... their professional spokesmen ... The air at least should be open to all, as the Press quite obviously was not.’ D.G. Bridson, Laurence Gilliam, Jack Dillon, Douglas Cleverdon, Olive Shapley and JoanLittlewood produced programmes which ranged from adaptations of The Waste Land to features on homelessness and unemployment, from the uncompromisingly highbrow to the popular. Their ‘features ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014

8 January 2015
... of them sitting with an adult presumably learning to read, others in groups being told stories and at every table children reading on their own. This library is one of those institutions that Mark Littlewood, the head of the right-wing think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said would make ‘a useful retail outlet’, a facility and a building for which there was no longer a social purpose. Most ...

Much like the 1950s

David Edgar: The Sixties

7 June 2007
White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties 
by Dominic Sandbrook.
Little, Brown, 878 pp., £22.50, August 2006, 0 316 72452 1
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Never Had It So Good: A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles 
by Dominic Sandbrook.
Abacus, 892 pp., £19.99, May 2006, 0 349 11530 3
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... is based on just two sources (‘most’ theatre historians think nothing of the kind). In support of his argument that the new theatre was commercially unpopular, he cites the supposed failure of JoanLittlewood’s Theatre Royal at Stratford East to gain a working-class audience, ignoring the considerable popular success of Littlewood shows like Make Me an Offer, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used t ...

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