We are very sad to hear of the death of Jean Newlove on Tuesday evening. Jean joined Theatre Workshop at Ormesby Hall in 1948 and kept strong connections with Theatre Royal for the rest of her life. She is an important part of our history and will be much missed.
Jean was Rudolf Laban’s first assistant when he came to England. She went on to become became movement teacher to Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and trained several generations of performers. Initially she worked with Laban and F.C.Lawrence (design engineer and factory consultant) pioneering ‘Laban Lawrence Industrial Rhythm’ in factories. This improved the movement of women workers in the war effort, including land-girls, forestry corps and textile workers, increasing their output considerably. She also introduced Laban’s ‘modern dance’ to the A.T.S.
Jean helped Lisa Ullmann establish teachers’ classes in modern educational dance before the Art of Movement Studio opened in Manchester in 1946 and ran drama courses independently. Joan Littlewood asked Laban to recommend a dancer/ choreographer to train a young company called Theatre Workshop. Jean joined the Company - eventually marrying its co-founder, the playwright Ewan MacColl.
During a long working lifetime (67 years!), Jean worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and taught master classes for actors at RADA and Bristol Old Vic and for dancers and actors in Havana, Cuba. She also introduced Laban classes to actors in companies in Sweden and Czechoslovakia whilst on tour with Theatre Workshop. Her own dance group visited Warsaw and Moscow. In addition she worked with actors in San Francisco, ran many courses in Europe and directed musicals and plays for young people. She worked with drama students and her ex-Laban Diploma students.
Jean published four books: Laban for Actors and Dancers (1993), the illustrated Laban for All (2004)and most recently her own autobiography. She also wrote a biography of her daughter, the late Kirsty MacColl and we supported Jean’s Justice For Kirsty campaign.
Jean Newlove was a regular visitor to Stratford East even after moving to France in 2012 and we’re grateful for all her contributions!
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