Clare Summerskill

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

  • “One of the fun­ni­est women in the coun­try” What’s On
  • “Unin­hib­it­ed and Unortho­dox” The Inde­pen­dent
  • “A Les­bian Vic­to­ria Wood” Radio 4, Woman’s Hour
  • “Engag­ing and Charm­ing” Time Out

Clare Sum­mer­skill

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, with Alice Arnold. 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 and has also per­formed them in the US.

Fes­ti­val appear­ances include York Les­bian Arts Fes­ti­val at The Roy­al Opera House, York. L‑Fest. Proud­words, New­cas­tle. Women in Tune. She has also per­formed at The Albert Hall as part of an LGBTQ char­i­ties ben­e­fit. 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.


After her first degree, in 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,  Hear­ing Voic­es and Rights of Pas­sage amongst oth­er productions.

Writing Work


  • Clare’s lat­est pub­li­ca­tion is Cre­at­ing Ver­ba­tim The­atre from Oral His­to­ries (2021), pub­lished by Rout­ledge.
  • Gate­way to Heav­en – Fifty Years of Les­bian and Gay Oral His­to­ry. Tolling­ton Press, 2012. 
  • We’re The Girls. Diana Pub­lish­ing, 2008A col­lec­tion of Clare’s com­e­dy mono­logues, short sto­ries, and favourite song lyrics. This book is beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed by the renowned les­bian car­toon­ist Kate Charlesworth. Described by Sarah Waters as: “Smart, wit­ty, and with an eye for the some­times poignant detail of every­day life.”

Her books can be ordered online.


  • Hear­ing Voic­es. Tolling­ton Press, 2010. Based on inter­views with patients who met on a secure psy­chi­atric ward.
  • Rights of Pas­sage. Tolling­ton Press, 2016. Based on inter­views with les­bian and gay asy­lum seek­ers in the UK.
  • Gate­way to Heav­en – The Play. Tolling­ton Press, 2019. Based on inter­views with old­er les­bians and gay men.

Her playscripts can be ordered 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.


Clare is the Artis­tic Direc­tor of her own pro­fes­sion­al the­atre com­pa­ny, ARTEMIS THEATRE COMPANY. The com­pa­ny per­forms plays to audi­ences who are often exclud­ed by main­stream com­mer­cial the­atre. Vis­it for details

Hear­ing Voic­es stage show. Pho­to by Ali­son Darren

Clare has writ­ten sev­er­al plays, all of which have been staged by pro­fes­sion­al the­atre com­pa­nies and three of which have been pub­lished, (Hear­ing Voic­es; Rights of Pas­sage and Gate­way to Heav­en The Play). The major­i­ty of her plays have been writ­ten from inter­views using ver­ba­tim the­atre process­es. 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 and a PhD in The­atre, both from Roy­al Hol­loway, Uni­ver­si­ty of London.

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 and after the intro­duc­tion of the so-called ‘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.


Over the last few years there has been an increas­ing demand for Clare to appear at con­fer­ences, uni­ver­si­ties, law firms, hous­ing asso­ci­a­tions and many LGBTQ organ­i­sa­tions and staff groups, to present talks on var­i­ous sub­jects she researched for her plays. All her talks con­tain the­atri­cal seg­ments from the rel­e­vant plays and films to which they relate.

Talks Offered by Clare

  • ‘Gate­way to Heav­en’, a talk, with act­ed extracts, about Clare’s book Gate­way to Heav­en: Fifty Years of Les­bian and Gay Oral History.
  • ‘Stay­ing Out Late’, a pre­sen­ta­tion­al talk about old­er LGBT people’s con­cerns about being in care in lat­er life.
  • ‘Hear­ing Voic­es’a talk about Clare’s play, set in a secure psy­chi­atric ward.
  • ‘Rights of Pas­sage’, a talk about the mak­ing of Clare’s lat­est ver­ba­tim play based on inter­views with LGBT asy­lum seekers.
  • ‘A Warm and Com­i­cal Glimpse into LGBT His­to­ry’, an irrev­er­ent look at LGBT his­to­ry, with songs!
  • Com­e­dy Writ­ing Work­shops – Cov­ers stand-up, mono­logues, radio-writ­ing and more!
  • ‘Writ­ing the Self’ Work­shops – LGBTQ writ­ing workshops.
  • LGBTQ-Spe­cif­ic Oral His­to­ry Work­shops – address­ing the ways in which LGBTQ oral his­to­ry method­ol­o­gy dif­fers from oth­er oral his­to­ry work

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)


Clare has released four CDs of orig­i­nal songs, which all include a deli­cious mix­ture of comedic songs and ballads.

  • Make It Sound Easy
  • Feels Like Com­ing Home 
  • Still Let Me Fly 
  • Love to be Found 

Are all avail­able to buy and to down­load. Click here for details on how to order or down­load these releases


‘Dr’ Clare Sum­mer­skill is also an inde­pen­dent aca­d­e­m­ic schol­ar! She writes aca­d­e­m­ic pub­li­ca­tions on applied the­atre, ver­ba­tim the­atre process­es, and LGBTQ oral his­to­ry methodology.