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 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.
- Clare’s latest publication is Creating Verbatim Theatre from Oral Histories (2021), published by Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/Creating-Verbatim-Theatre-from-Oral-Histories/Summerskill/p/book/9780367181505
- Gateway to Heaven – Fifty Years of Lesbian and Gay Oral History. Tollington Press, 2012.
- We’re The Girls. Diana Publishing, 2008. A 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.
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 www.artemistheatre.co.uk for details
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.