Joan Littlewood was a rare talent, highly regarded by her colleagues in the theatre, but who struggled against a lack of wider recognition and funding for much of her working life.
Although she produced hits like "Oh what a lovely war', "Fings aint wot they used to be", "The quare fellow" and "A taste of honey', when these were transferred to the west end, Joan and her Theatre Workshop based in Stratford E15, gained little from their commercial success. This was partly because she did not encourage such transfers, since they depleted the core of actors she had so painstakingly built up.
Stars such as Richard Harris, Barbara Windsor, Harry Corbet and Nigel Hawthorne, freely acknowledged the influence of her training methods on their careers, but her fiery temperament and left wing views kept her constantly at odds with authority. Perhaps as a consequence, her workshop never received funding from the Arts Council or other public source, and the National Lottery had yet to be devised.
In 1975, somewhat disillusioned, she retired from public activity and became something of a recluse. She died in 2002, aged 88.
This book covers her life from her earliest days, but more importantly for anybody interested in the theatre, gives some insight into her working methods.
An excellent introduction and 'how-to' about Joan Littlewood's methods, politics and techniques. Couple this with Gourney's Theatre Workshop and you have a great exposition of the Theatre Workshop project. Joan's Book should be then added and if you like this area of study you are sorted. It will put your own training, practice and study into perspective, as so much of what we take for granted today was extemporized by Joan.