Rose Bruford College BA (Hons) Theatre Studies student Patricia Riley has recently published the second edition of her book Looking for Githa, on the life of the early 20th century playwright Githa Sowerby.
Patricia’s research into Sowerby’s work was inspired by her coursework for her Theatre Studies degree. Published by Stairwell Books in February 2019, Looking for Githa includes a foreword by Sir Richard Eyre and coincides with a recent revival of Sowerby’s play Rutherford and Son, which will be performed at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield and the National Theatre during 2019.
The book will be officially launched at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, as a pre-show talk on Saturday, 9 February, and Patricia will also be doing a pre-show talk jointly with Professor Ellen Gainor of Cornell University at the National Theatre on 24 May.
On retiring from a senior managerial career, Patricia decided to take her lifelong love of theatre to a deeper level by studying for the College’s online BA (Hons) degree in Theatre Studies.
“It was a fateful decision for, when working through one of my first modules, I was introduced by tutor Michael Walling to the Sowerby’s Geordie drama Rutherford & Son.
I became fascinated by the life and works of this unjustly neglected feminist and socialist playwright and children’s author and, although the assignment set didn’t require me to research in anything like this amount of depth, I contacted theatrical publishers Samuel French & Co to see if they still had their original correspondence with Githa Sowerby. I struck gold, for instead they put me in touch with Githa’s daughter Joan, then aged 91.”
The pair got on famously and soon afterwards Joan entrusted Patricia the contents of a large hat-box of memorabilia of her mother which no-one had previously known existed.
“I knew then of course that I could not stop at simply writing an assignment. I knew I must study Githa’s life and works further so that I could write what is still the only biography of Githa Sowerby.”
The first edition of Looking for Githa was published by New Writing North in 2009. Since then Patricia has spoken about Githa Sowerby’s life and works to theatre audiences in England and America and has been consulted by directors and designers planning productions of her plays.
The BA (Hons) Theatre Studies programme offers students a comprehensive range of online modules led by a team of expert practitioner-academics, providing both theoretical and practice-based perspectives as they study working theatres, practitioners, playwrights and directors alongside theatre studies at large. It can be studied as a part-time or full-time programme.