Thursday, 21 April 2011

Beginnings

(photo by David Sibley)

Sadista Sisters was originally formed as a direct response to the male-dominated establishment theatre of the early 1970’s. 
We wanted to make it colourful and rock n roll, comic, political and funny. 
The two founder members: Jude Alderson and Teresa d’Abreu.

This company aimed to explode myths about the female psyche and challenged the notion that women are there to serve as ciphers for male protagonists in theatre. This music/theatre company – eclectic, savage funny tender and populist exploited everything from performance art to punk – 
and carried on in many incarnations for 14 years. 
It was a marriage of many styles.

Teresa and I borrowed my Aunts damp cottage in Llangenith 
and began to invent and write a show. 
It was grandiose, and ambitious, a few months later we played the Hard Rock in Green park in a couple of glittery cat suits and kitchen utensils as props. 
Within a year we had two other Sisters, a record deal, 
plus a show in the West End, 
followed by a season at Ronnie Scott’s, the year: 1975.

1981-1983

We went to see Paul Raymond – I’d known his lawyer from my acrobatic days. 
He was interested in the show ’Red Door Without a Bolt’ and Paul – 
or Mr Raymond as we had to call him (although I think I refused!) 
who wanted ‘to go respectable’ planned to put us on in the Boulevard Theatre in Soho. The show had previously been on at the Half Moon, and the Tricycle and had been at the Edinburgh Festival and toured a bit. (Vienna, Germany etc). We had played in a theatre that had been in the heart of the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. But this kind of respectability was closer to home.

Raymond wanted us.
We sealed the deal with a toast: ‘Champagne for the Feminist’.
And consequently after the show I would regularly have champagne delivered to the dressing room. He paid us well. It was an uneasy marriage.

But as you entered his theatre you’d walk past rude, or crude or just plain sad photographs of women in a state of coy semi-undress. At the time I saw playing at this theatre a triumph. This odd creepy hugely successful man was paying us to make feminist rock n roll theatre. 
 The songs and the show exposed and condemned that kind of exploitation, 
but we were housed in his building, with his rules. 
‘Champagne for the feminist? Who was I kidding?

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