Written by Dr. Susan Croft of Unfinished Histories
ED Berman MBE has had a huge impact on British theatre and the wider culture. In
1968 he set up the organisation Inter-
the first community architecture service in Europe and numerous other projects. Inter-
It influenced the work of numerous other community arts initiatives as well as direct
Games and Groups
ED Berman arrived in Britain as a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford from Harvard in 1962.
In London from 1966 he continued his work on developing the theory and practice
The Ambiance was central to the lunchtime theatre movement that became a burgeoning site of new writing development and staging, from the late 60s to the early 80s.
In 1971 ED Berman moved the Ambiance to Rupert Street in the West End where as the
Black Theatre Season
ED Berman programmed Britain’s first season of plays on black issues: Black and White
Power Plays at the Ambiance in 1970. The season introduced the work of African-
Women’s Theatre Season
The 1973 Women’s theatre season introduced work by American writers including Sally Ordway and new British writers such as Pam Gems, Michelene Wandor and Dinah Brooke. Women directed, stage managed and administered the season, helping many of them develop their professional careers. The season led to the formation of the influential companies: Women’s Theatre Group and Monstrous Regiment.
Gay Theatre Season
The 1975 season of gay plays, including work by Robert Patrick, Martin Sherman, Laurence Collinson and Alan Wakeman, was the first to be staged in Britain. The season led to the formation of gay theatre companies, principally Gay Sweatshop, Britain’s first gay and lesbian theatre company.
NB: The three seasons above were established by ED Berman through a caucus with individuals who identified with each theme. They then worked out the various roles
themselves shadowing the Inter-
Dogg’s Troupe staged street theatre and community events and performances on local issues and larger concerns, working especially with children and families, as well as in hospitals, old people’s homes and other community venues. Berman played the role of Professor R.L. Dogg or Otto Premiere Check (and with the Father and Mother Xmas Union as Super Santa). As well as creating events the Troupe also continued the games work with local kids and training a wide range of groups from across the country.
Father Xmas Union
The Father Xmas Union (‘FXU’) was set up in 1969 to stage large-
Barker’s department store.
TOC (The Other Company)
The Other Company was set up by Ed Berman and the innovative Israeli director, Naftali
Yavin, in 1968. Drawing on role-
Fun Art Bus
In 1972, a Routemaster bus was specially converted to create a small theatre on the
upper deck, along with a cinema showing short films and slide-
ED Berman negotiated with British Rail to take over several tracts (10,000 acres)
of British Railway land which were unusable for development under modern planning
legislation because of their proximity to the railway lines. Inter-
The members of Inter-
Numerous other activities including the establishment of WAC-
the first joint company approved by both Equity Unions and both countries for non-
ED Berman became a British citizen in 1976 and received an MBE in 1979. He has worked
in Hong Kong, Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and India as a Director/Trainer
as well as advising on developing new social enterprises. In Russia he worked as
an Adviser to three State Ministers and in the UK as a non-
ED Berman’s major contribution to British Theatre and Community Arts/Action deserves further recognition.
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