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Stars fight to get Anna back her life's work.

Tom MacKenzie | 19.12.2003 04:02 | Indymedia | Repression | London | World


The following article comes from the Islington Gazette, dated 18/12/03.
The headline;
Top TV stars and personalities have lashed out at the treatment of Islington's best-known drama teacher.
Everyone from former Eastenders hard man Martin Kemp to Islington South and Finsbury MP Chris Smith have joined a growing campaign to have Anna Scher reinstated as the principal of the theatre she founded in Barnsbury Road more than 30 years ago.
The legendary drama teacher, peace activist and role model for thousands battled her way back from illness last year-only to find the theatre's board of directors were refusing to let her have her job back.
The board, who are allowing Ms Scher to teach just four sessions a week at the theatre, have even told her not to use the Anna Scher slogan without asking their permission.
But Ms Scher's loyal friends and former pupils are determined to see her back where she belongs.
Soap star Martin Kemp said "I was saddened to hear of the way in which Anna has been treated. She is the life blood of the Anna Scher Theatre and without her and her incredible energy at the helm, the theatre and all it has done for the children of Islington and beyond will lose it's credibility. Anna has placed the beginnings of a dream into the heads of thousands of budding actors. Please let her finish her work she started as head of the Anna Scher Theatre."
Birds of a Feather star Linda Robson said she would not be happy sending her own children to the theatre without Ms Scher being at the helm. The heart of the theatre is missing and I'm really unhappy about sending my children to a place that could treat such a warm, caring, and inspirational woman like Anna so badly." She said.
Ms Scher set up the world renowned Barnsbury Road theatre 35 years ago to give under-privileged kids a chance to break into acting. Her teaching has inspired thousands of children and produced other stars such as Pauline Quirke, Patsy Palmer and Susan Tully.
In March, Ms Scher was given the freedom of the borough-the highest civic honour that can be awarded in Islington by Islington Council in tribute to her devoted work.
Kathy Burke said "My time at the Anna Scher Theatre was nothing but a massive education and a beautiful inspiration-what more could you want?"
Ms Scher who says she has made a full recovery from the depression that forced her to step aside, said the board's decision had a massive blow but her friends were keeping her going. "I'm heartbroken" she said "What has sustained me is the love, loyalty and longevity of my student friends-I don't know what I would have done without them. People in the community have been fantastic. I can't go down the street with out people coming up to offer me their support." A statement from the theatre's board said: "The board fully understands the emotional ties that a charismatic founder like Anna has with the organisation she founded. The board is firmly of the view, however, that no further disruption must occur at the theatre; it needs a stable and calm period to develope and grow under its present administration."

By Tom Mackenzie (Reporter for the Islington Gazette)

Tom MacKenzie