Clare Summerskill

About Clare: Stand-up, Acting, Writing, Theatre and Talks

Stand-Up

Clare Summerskill

Clare has been described by Radio 4 Woman’s Hour as “A Lesbian Victoria Wood” and by What’s On Magazine as “One of the funniest women in the country.”Clare performs an original cocktail of stand-up and comedy songs to mainly Gay and Lesbian audiences up and down the country and has even been known to make straight people chuckle just a little bit! She brings “Dyke” humour to the forefront of alternative comedy! For several years she has appeared on the LGBT comedy and cabaret circuit. She was once one half of the double act Alice and Clare. She has performed at The Edinburgh Festival on many occasions. She tours her brand new one-woman comedy shows to theatres around the country every couple of years.

Festival appearances include York Lesbian Arts Festival at The Royal Opera House. Proudwords, Newcastle. Women in Tune. She has also performed at The Albert Hall. Clare performs her stand-up and comedy songs as the entertainment for various AGMS and Conferences and gives talks about her work for Diversity events. Appearances have included Spectrum (Home Office LGBT Staff), The Department of Health, (LGBT Staff Group), OLN (Older Lesbian Network), CSI, Transport for London (LGBT Staff group), IBM (LGBT European Managers), Enfield Hate Crime Forum and Kenric.

Acting

After her first degree, studying History at The University of Sussex, Clare trained as an actress at Drama Studio, London. She worked for many years mainly in community theatre with touring companies such as Forest Forge, Hampshire: Remould, Hull: Age Exchange, London and Interplay, Leeds. She appeared as Vi Petty for two years in the West End run of the musical Buddy and performed in the Number One Tour of Glad all Over with DGM productions. She has appeared on The Richard and Judy Show C4 and The Royal Variety Show ITV as well as on Lazarus and Dingwall BBC 2. For the past few years she has been performing her own one-woman comedy shows in theatres around the UK and acting with her own theatre company, Artemis in national tours of Gateway to Heaven and Hearing Voices amongst other productions.

Writing Work

Books

  • We’re the Girls! is a collection of Clare’s comedy monologues, short stories and song lyrics. It was published in 2008 (Diana Publishing) and is available to buy online.
  • She has also had two short stories published, one in The Diva Book of Short Stories and the second in Groundswell, (both are Diva Publications).
  • Hearing Voices is a play by Clare, based entirely on service users’ experiences of the mental health system. It is published by Tollington Press (2010). Available to buy online.
  • Gateway to Heaven – Fifty Years of Lesbian and Gay Oral History. Published by Tollington Press. 2012. Available to buy online

Radio Work

As a writer Clare contributed to the last series of Weekending on BBC Radio 4. She also wrote for the BBC Radio 2 women’s comedy sketch show Heated Rollers and she both wrote for and appeared in the first ever pilot for a Lesbian and Gay sketch show on Radio 4, So What If I Am?

Comedy Writing Workshops

Clare runs comedy writing workshops helping participants to explore and improve their comedic skills for stand-up, sketch writing and radio work. She has lead such workshops for several groups including Helles Belles, in Newcastle; BBC Radio Scotland; Proudwords Literary Festival; Royal Holloway University of London and she has given a talk on writing Verbatim Theatre to The Oral History Society.

Theatre

Hearing Voices stage show. Photo by Alison Darren

Clare has written several plays, all of which have been staged by professional theatre companies and one of which has been published, (Hearing Voices, Tollington Press. 2010). Many of her plays have been written from interviews using the verbatim theatre method. These include Gateway to Heaven, (based entirely on the memories of older lesbians and gay men) and Once Upon a Lifetime (a reminiscence play commissioned by Age Exchange Theatre Company). Hearing Voices is a piece written from interviews with mental health service users and Melody Lane and Make Do and Mend were reminiscence theatre pieces written for and performed by her own theatre company, Artemis. An Evening With Katie’s Gang was an award winning play produced at Oval House Theatre. Clare has an MA in Applied Drama from RHUL.

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Commissioned Plays and Films

Clare has also written several commissioned plays and films for social sector organisations, which have been performed at various conferences and AGMS.

Age Concern Opening Doors (now Age UK) commissioned a film version of the play Gateway to Heaven, which can be obtained for free from Age UK. (See BOOK AND DVD)

After the introduction of the Hate Crime Bill, Clare was commissioned by the London Metropolitan Police and Age Concern to write and produce a film about the relationship between the older LGBT people and the police over the last seventy years. This piece was based entirely on interviews and was made into a DVD called Queens’ Evidence which is available from Age UK. Clare can be booked to talk about the making of this film, combined with a screening of it followed by a Q & A session.

For the NHS she wrote and with members of her theatre company performed two short plays. One was for a Chief Nursing Officers Conference and the issues that were tackled dramatically were around Inequality and Social Exclusion. The other NHS play was performed to nurses at a national NHS conference and addressed the theme of “Shifting The Balance Of Power”. Issues covered in this piece included: Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities and Securing Clinical and Professional Leadership.

For Mosaic Housing Association, Clare produced a short play addressing issues concerning older tenants. Areas covered in this piece included Housing Associations’ communication with older tenants: Provision of aids and adaptations in older people’s homes: Minimalisation of disruption when repairs are carried out in older people’s homes.

For Age Concern, National AGM Clare, in partnership with Women And Theatre Company, wrote a short play addressing issues such as images of older people in the media, grey power, the financial and emotional costs of nursing home provision, older people and sexuality and older people and their transport needs.

Talks

Over the last few years there has been an increasing demand for Clare to appear at conferences, universities and LGBT organisations and give various talks on certain subjects that she has been researching and then writing about. All her talks contain theatrical segments from the relevant plays and films to which they relate. She has also given talks at conferences on Diversity. Bookings for Clare’s talk can also contain a screening of the relevant DVD of each project.

Some previous talks by Clare have been presented at:

  • Greenwich University
  • Emory University, Atlanta. USA
  • UCLAN, University of Lancashire
  • Salford University
  • Booquest Festival, Northampton
  • North East LGBT Diversity Conference.
  • London Metropolitan Archives
  • Transport for London (LGBT Staff group)