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Artemis Theatre Company

Clare Summerskill is the Artistic Director and Producer of ARTEMIS Theatre Company, based in London. Artemis is a professional theatre company dedicated to touring high quality shows to audiences who are often neglected by mainstream and commercial theatre.

ARTEMIS THEATRE COMPANY HAS ITS OWN WEBSITE  – www.artemistheatre.co.uk

Visit for more details about the company and its productions

HEARING VOICES

Donna Combe, Victoria Jeffrey and Clare Summerskill

Photo by Alison Darren

In Spring 2010 Clare performed (with other members of her theatre company) in a national tour of a play that she had written called HEARING VOICES. Over a five week period the show toured to twelve theatres around the country and the production was met with several sold out houses and an enormous amount of support for the subject matter that it addressed. HEARING VOICES was funded by The Arts Council and is a piece of verbatim theatre based entirely on interviews with a group of mental health service users who all met Clare on a secure psychiatric ward where she was sent after experiencing a breakdown. The play has been published by Tollington Press and is available online here.

There is also a separate website about the play containing extracts, reviews and information about the contributors and the original cast. Visit www.hearingvoicesplay.co.uk. The play has been made into a shortened film version and from Autumn 2010 onwards Clare will be giving talks and a Q & A session to universities, conferences and mental health groups and organisations about the writing of the play as well as screening the film for those in attendance. For more information see Talks.

Reviews of HEARING VOICES

Adrian Quinton, Donna Combe, Clare Summerskill

Photo by Alison Darren

Sensitive subject is a triumph on stage! Performed to a packed crowd in the intimate space of the Arena Theatre, this powerful story confronts the taboos of depression, self-harm and schizophrenia. Hearing Voices is a divided narrative between the anecdotes of Clare, the patients she met and the opinions of experts on mental illness and its treatment. The six patients are depicted fabulously by performers including Clare Summerskill herself, Donna Combe, Adrian Quinton and Victoria Jeffrey who bring in an array of talents with their music, song and multi roles. The message was informative and empowering but did not lack humour – even the painful narratives of depression were often laced with laughter. On the whole, a difficult piece to fault.

EXPRESS AND STAR, WOLVERHAMPTON

A scathing attack on the way the mentally ill are treated in psychiatric wards, actress Clare Summerskill’s Hearing Voices confronted the taboos of suicide, depression and over-medication, yet still managed to be a fun night at the theatre. Told in a breezy, humorous, matter-of-fact style by Artemis Theatre group, Hearing Voices divided narration between the anecdotes of Clare and the patients she met in care, and between the studied, text-book-like opinions of experts on mental illness and its treatment. The oppressive feel of St Thomas’s and Clare’s fluctuating state of mind was portrayed through shifting lights and the constant comings and goings of a host of supporting characters, brilliantly played by three of Artemis’s finest; Donna Combe, Adrian Quinton and Victoria Jeffrey.

     THIS IS LEICESTERSHIRE – STAGE REVIEW

“HEARING VOICES” is very very important and disturbing. I set up Maytree because of people saying what you are saying, and dying because the fear of hospital was so great.

     Paddy Bazeley. Director of Maytree, a sanctuary for the suicidal

Clare Summerskill’s play has opened my eyes because the treatment Clare perceived as wrong, in human, unjust, uncalled for, I had been excepting that as the norm because I was a bad naughty bipolar person I felt I deserved it, because I was hyper- manic. However after watching the play seeing just how it was for all of us showed me and the rest of the audience that there is a big problem in the nut house with the NHS, that could be changed, should be changed…but I can’t see it getting any better any time soon. At least thanks to the massive talents of Clare Summerskill, you’re hearing our voices.

     Deb Elthalion, Service User and play interviewee

QUEENS’ EVIDENCE

In 2009 Clare was commissioned by The Metropolitan Police and Age Concern to make a DVD for the MET looking at the relationship between older LGBT people and the police over the last seventy or so years. This project came about in response to the introduction of the HATE CRIME laws. All the people interviewed for this film were portrayed by professional actors from Artemis Theatre Company and the resulting film was called QUEENS’ EVIDENCE. It is available for free to any interested groups or individuals by contacting mail.order@ace.org.uk

Clare has given several key note speeches about the research, writing, production and findings of this project to several interested groups. Click here to learn more about Clare’s Talks.

GATEWAY TO HEAVEN

Alwynn Taylor, Richard Hansell, Paul Cawley, Clare Summerskill

Photo by Alison Darren

Gateway To Heaven is a play that was funded by The Arts Council and toured twice to theatres around the country in 2006 and 2007. It was a piece based entirely on memories of older lesbians and gay men and was then commissioned by Age Concern to be made into a DVD which is available for free by contacting mail.order@ace.org.uk. Visit www.gatewaytoheaven.co.uk for further details about the play.

Clare also does talks about the research and writing of this play and she performs some extracts of the play during the talk. This talk is particularly in demand during LGBT history month each year. Click here to learn more about Clare’s Talks.

Reviews of GATEWAY TO HEAVEN

“An immaculately performed play about the history of lesbians and gays, taken from the experiences and memories of ordinary people.” – New Statesman

“An outstanding piece of theatre” – Kenric Magazine

“A fascinating, involving piece which directly engages the audience with its spark, warmth and wit” – Theatreworld Internet Magazine

“Throughout this beautifully crafted piece of theatre we feel the uplifting strength of the human spirit and hear unity across all the different voices and stories which gives it a wide appeal to a range of audiences, young and old, lesbian, gay or heterosexual. For some it will be a nostalgic story, for others it will be an eye-opener to a different era” – Gay Carers Magazine 

Previous ARTEMIS Productions

  • “MAKE DO AND MEND” by Clare Summerskill. A reminiscence show about how the people of Suffolk were affected by the Second World War based on the memories of older men and women in Suffolk and funded by Suffolk County Council.
  • “MELODY LANE” by Clare Summerskill. A reminiscence show based entirely on the memories of older men and women in Suffolk. This show toured to sheltered housing schemes and day centres and was followed by discussion with the audience about the content of the show and the memories that the piece evoked for them.