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Annie Castledine


  (1939 - 2016)

Nationality:    British
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Ann (Annie) Castledine, theatre director, born 26 February 1939; died 4 June 2016. The stage director Annie Castledine, who has died aged 77, was described by the critic Lyn Gardner as one of the arts worlds best-known secrets. As a longstanding collaborator with the company Complicite, founded by Simon McBurney and Annabel Arden, she was associated with some of the most remarkable and original productions of the past 20 years, including The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol, Mnemonic and A Disappearing Number. The first was based on a story by John Berger, the second a tapestry of inter- woven stories including the discovery of an ice-age man, the third an exquisite meditation on maths, love and biology; all testified to the range of interest and intellect in the Complicite fold, and to the formidable, indomitable Castledine, who was fully conversant with Greek and Roman mythology from an early age and an enthusiastic, magpie reader. It was she who pointed McBurney in the direction of the book that formed the basis of his recent solo audio-show The Encounter, about an anthropological mind-expanding trip up the Amazon. In her case, once encountered never forgotten. She was large, noisy, funny and fierce. Stephen Daldry, with whom in 1991 she co-directed a revelatory, award-winning pair of 1920s plays  Pioneers in Ingolstadt and Purgatory in Ingolstadt, by Marieluise-Fleisser, a discarded mistress and protege of Bertolt Brecht  at the Gate, in Notting Hill, said that she was, simply, a giant, a mother and a force for all thats best in the theatre. Castledine was rigorous, demanding and extremely methodical in her work, reserving her frequent contemptuous outbursts for anything that might be deemed suburban. And among the new fringe generation of the 80s and 90s she spoke with the working-class authority of age, having come to the forefront after years at the coalface of teaching, further education and amateur drama. She was a modern Joan Littlewood  she loved new work, Brecht and Chekhov equally  and legions of students and colleagues attest to her influence. Annie was the eldest of three children brought up in the village of Aston, near Sheffield. Her parents, Walter, an engineer in the coalmines, and Ida (nee Armstrong), were co-founders of a childrens theatre who took their own offspringregularly to the old Sheffield Playhouse. Annie was educated at Woodhouse grammar school in the city, and trained as a teacher at Rolle College in Exmouth and then on a drama course at Goldsmiths, University of London, before beginning a teaching career at various state schools in the capital. She took a literature degree as a mature student at York University and, after an attachment to the Theatre Royal, York, as a trainee director (and in am-dram with the Northern Studio in that city), she spent several years as a senior lecturer in drama at Bulmershe College in Reading, Berkshire. Advertisement She was more than ready, more than qualified, for the professional hurly-burly, serving as an associate at the Theatr Clwyd, Mold (1985-87), artistic director of Derby Playhouse (1987-90) and working regularly at Chichester Festival theatre while, in the early 90s, forging her great collaborations with Daldry at the Gate and McBurney and Arden at Complicite. Over these 20 years she directed not only Ibsen, Molière and Pinter (Miriam Karlinplayed Davies the tramp in Pinters The Caretaker at the Sherman, Cardiff, in 1990) but an impressive roster of new playwrights including Bryony Lavery, Maureen Lawrence, Lucy Gannon and Meredith Oakes. She edited two volumes of Plays by Women for Methuen which included texts by Diana Quick, Tinch Minter, Claire Luckham and Phyllis Nagy. At the National Theatre in 1995 she co-directed (with Arden) an impressive Women of Troy, the ultimate anti-war play, with a cast led by Jane Birkin, making her British stage debut, as Andromache, Rosemary Harris as Hecuba and Janie Dee as Helen of Troy (faintly disguised as Marilyn Monroe). She had already directed Harris in a genteel, murderous double act with the great Elizabeth Spriggs in Joseph Kesselrings Arsenic and Old Lace at Chichester in 1991. Such an old rep warhorse was another, surprising part of her repertoire: she directed Patrick Hamiltons ghostly Gaslight long before anyone else thought of reviving it on the professional stage, and her Greenwich revival of Rodney Acklands The Old Ladies (adapted from the novel of the same name by Hugh Walpole), also in 1991, was dubbed a real find by the critic Irving Wardle. Advertisement Castledines reputation for producing plays at odds with, or as a challenge to, the mainstream subsidised and commercial programme was further enhanced by her last London production in 2010 (again with Arden, who took over after she became ill). This was the Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhards last play, Heldenplatz, at the Arcola in Dalston, north London, an epic, posthumous biography of a professor who has killed himself, which caused a storm when premiered in Vienna in 1988 on account of its invocation of postwar antisemitism in the city and its satirical intolerance of a bourgeois culture of indifference to historical injustice. The superb Arcola staging made the case for Bernhard, a major European dramatist, for the first time, in effect, in this country. Castledine will be remembered, too, for some outstanding classical productions at Cambridge University and for her extended teaching stints at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at Rose Bruford College. She lived for many years in Kensington, in London, moving latterly to Eastbourne to be close to her family. She is survived by her sister, Sara, brother, John, five nieces and a nephew. - (Michael Coveney, Tuesday 7 June 2016, The Guardian)

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        And All the Children Cried

And All the Children Cried

focuses on two women jailed for murdering infants : Myra Hindley, accomplice of a sadistic child killer and Gail, a fictional character, who has murdered both her babies.

By Judith Jones & Beatnx Campbell With Annie Castledine

1st Produced:
Courtyard, West Yorks, Leeds     2002


1st Published:
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