Annie Lloyd – Legend

Tonight Chris, Louisa (founder member now a lecturer in law) and myself are going to Seven Arts in Leeds for the launch of The Dust Archive.

The Dust Archive is the result of a project undertaken by Alex Kelly (Co-Artistic Director of Third Angel) and the legendary Annie Lloyd to record every performance they could remember at The Studio Theatre, Leeds Met – a book of tracings and recollections that map the theatre’s history

For nearly twenty years Annie has been director at the Studio Theatre  where she has championed new performance work and supported many MANY artists at many different stage of their development. And now she’s retiring while the university has taken the (in my opinion, shamefully short sighted) decision to close the theatre.

We owe a huge debt to Annie. She gave us our first gigs in a professional programme. And paid us for them. She gave us rehearsal space. For free. She always thanked us and told us we were great after shows – even when she hadn’t liked them. Which wasn’t her being insincere, she just understands that in that moment immediately after having taken the risk of showing something to an audience that means a lot to everyone involved – you need to know that the people that supported you in doing that are still on your side.

She’s loyal and smart and courageous and great fun. She has worked tirelessly to introduce people in Leeds to work that no-one else was prepared to. It’s very sad to think that we and future Leeds theatre and performance makers won’t have her fighting that corner.

But tonight we celebrate all that she has achieved. Some of the most memorable things I have to thank her for include…

The single and definitely best night as a performer I have ever had – Thursday 22nd March 2007 when we opened The Ethics of Progress there. The show was a joint commission from Annie and Oxford Playhouse. Just one of those life changing experiences where you know it’s all REALLY worked and EVERYONE has had just the best time.

The second best night as a performer I have ever had – a night (exact date anyone?) in April 1999 – when we first performed Chris’ “Static”. Another commission from Annie and a truly remarkable piece of writing from Chris written in response to the conflict in Kosovo at the time. The atmosphere in the theatre was incredible – hilarious and devastating at the same time. Everyone who was there’s world shifted a little that night.

I (and in fact I’m sure that this is true for all of the founder members of Unlimited) saw Forced Entertainment for the first time at Leeds Met.

Other artists I also saw there for the first time include Stan’s Cafe, Peepolykus, Frantic Assembly, Talking Birds and Faulty Optic. I’ve seen everything Third Angel have ever done there (except for the one show which didn’t come to the Studio – geek point for anyone who knows what it was).

We spent four weeks there devising a show with a group of thirty older people (over 55) which is still one of my favourite shows.

We ran a two year project there training teachers in devised theatre practice, significantly raising levels of attainment in twelve Leeds high schools.

I’ve seen more naked people on stage there than anywhere else (including one of our now Arts Council officers). I’ve been naked on stage there myself more than once. And in the auditorium. Look…

Naked in The Studio 1998 l-r: Paul, Louisa, Jon, Chris, Liz, Clare (pic: Ed Collier)

So thank you, Annie. Looking forward to being with you tonight.

Much love x

Five 20-somethings pose moodily in a dressing room mirror
Us in the dressing room at Leeds Met 1998 (pic: Ed Collier)