Joan Littlewood was the anarchic revolutionary of 20th century theatre and now her life is to be retold in Miss Littlewood, a musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, this summer starring Clare Burt in the title role.
With book, music and lyrics by Sam Kenyon, and directed by deputy artistic director, Erica Whyman, Miss Littlewood tells the story of Joan Littlewood, who was born into poverty and who was to have a lasting influence on British culture.
Anti-establishment, communist, visionary, rude and glorious, Joan fired the imagination of a generation.
Her unique Theatre Workshop was responsible for a raft of successes including Oh What A Lovely War!, and breathed new life into the Theatre Royal Stratford East.
This new musical of Joan’s life story, told with her own uncompromising candour, reveals a love story at its heart.
Clare Burt makes her RSC debut to play Joan Littlewood. Her recent theatre credits include: The Divide (Old Vic at Edinburgh International Festival), Big Fish (The Other Palace), Flowers for Mrs Harris (Sheffield Crucible, Chichester Festival Theatre Autumn 2018), London Road, The Miracle/DNA/Babygirl and Coram Boy (National Theatre), and Sunspots (Hampstead Theatre).
Joining her are Aretha Ayeh, Sandy Foster, Amanda Hadingue, Dawn Hope, Emily Johnstone and Sophia Nomvete who will also play the part of Joan at different stages of her life.
The cast also includes Daisy Badger, Greg Barnett, Laura Elsworthy, Solomon Israel, Natasha Lewis and Tam Williams.
Sam Kenyon said: “I’d always wondered about the imaginative moment when Fanny Brice became Funny Girl; when Gypsy Rose Lee became Gypsy; when Eva Perón became Evita.
“When I read Joan Littlewood’s autobiography, Joan’s Book, and she wrote that she’d quit RADA aged nineteen and walked – walked! – to Manchester, I knew immediately that I was on to something.
“And then I found the most searing love letters buried in the centre of the book.
“I’ve written this in homage to the Stockwell-born ‘illegitimate’ daughter of a teenage mother, who has inspired theatre makers worldwide and yet is barely known by her name.”
Miss Littlewood, developed in collaboration with Theatre Royal Stratford East, plays in the RSC Swan Theatre, from June 22 – August 4, 2018