Kay Adshead

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Kay Adshead
Born (1954-05-10) 10 May 1954 (age 66)
Cheetham Hill, Manchester, England, UK
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Genrepoet, playwright, theatremaker, actress, producer

Kay Adshead (born 10 May 1954) is a poet, playwright, theatremaker, actress and producer.


Early life and education

Adshead was born in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, moving to Stretford where she was educated at Stretford Girls’ Grammar. She was a child actress with the Stretford Children’s Theatre. She trained as an actress at RADA, where she won the Emile Littler award for outstanding talent and the Bryan Mosley award for individual skill in stage-fighting. She graduated in 1975. [1]


She has played leading roles in film and TV, including Cathy in the BBC classic series Wuthering Heights, Beryl Stapleton in Hound of The Baskervilles, Linda in Mike Leigh’s BBC TV film Kiss of Death, and Sue McKenna in the Film on Four Acceptable Levels [2] .

Theatre performances include Moll Gromer in Thee and Me [3] and Muriel in Harlequinade at the Royal National Theatre. [4] She was Betty in Touched [5] and sang the role of Clara Twain in White Suit Blues at The Old Vic, both directed by Sir Richard Eyre. [6] She was Constanze in the nationwide tour of Amadeus with Keith Michell for Triumph Apollo Productions. [7] She played Eve, Zoo, Savvy and Newly-Born in Cambridge Theatre Company’s production of Back To Methusalah culminating at the Shaw Theatre. She was Tanzi in Trafford Tanzi at the Mermaid Theatre, learning to wrestle for the role, and Liz in Juicy Bits in the main house at the Lyric Hammersmith.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Kay Adshead appeared in lead roles in fringe and experimental theatre productions and had several guest appearances in television programmes including The Bill , Dick Turpin, Victoria Wood As Seen on TV , Over To Pam , an episode of Victoria Wood's sitcom dinnerladies , A Bit of Fry and Laurie, an early episode of One Foot in the Grave , Mother’s Ruin, and Family Affairs .

She has also played leading roles in regional and repertory companies, including playing Viola in Twelfth Night at Nottingham Playhouse, with Tim Piggott-Smith as Orsino and Anthony Sher as Malvolio. She was Sissy in People Are Living There with Margaret Tyzack at The Royal Exchange Manchester, Diaphanta in The Changeling, and Avril in Semi-Detached at the Bristol Old Vic with Pete Postlethwaite. She was Judith in Herod at The Sheffield Crucible, Josie in Steaming at the Harrogate Theatre, singing the role of Mrs Johnson in Blood Brothers at The Swan Theatre, Worcester, and Gila in Not Quite Jerusalem at the Liverpool Playhouse.

Adshead has directed plays including On the Verge by Eric Overmyer at The Man in The Moon, The Possibilities by Howard Barker, Fen by Caryl Churchill and Entertaining Strangers by David Edgar, all at The Lyric Hammersmith Studio. She has written and directed Bones at The Bush, [8] The Singing Stones at The Arcola [9] and Acts of Defiance at Theatre503. She devised and directed The Enquiry and The London Summer (two shorts) and If Anyone Recognises These Young People, all at the Roundhouse studio.

Mama Quilla theatre company

In 1999, with Lucinda Gane, she cofounded theatre company Mama Quilla. Mama Quilla has produced The Bogus Woman [10] at the Traverse and the Bush, Bites at the Bush Theatre [11] and Bones at the Haymarket, Leicester, and the Bush. [12] The Bogus Woman, Bites and Bones were also produced internationally and all have been published by Oberon Books.

Playwright credits

Her credits as a playwright include: [13] [14]


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  1. "Kay Adshead — RADA". www.rada.ac.uk. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  2. "Acceptable Levels". SkyCinema Find and Watch. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  3. https://theatricalia.com/play/7ad/thee-and-me/production/p3p
  4. http://theatricalia.com/play/9cf/harlequinade/production/pj7
  5. http://www.stephen-lowe.co.uk/touched.php
  6. https://theatricalia.com/play/51d/white-suit-blues/production/b15
  7. http://theatricalia.com/play/55g/amadeus/production/bgs
  8. https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/event/bones/
  9. https://www.arcolatheatre.com/production/arcola/the-singing-stones
  10. http://www.mamaquilla.org/the-bogus-woman.html
  11. http://www.mamaquilla.org/bites.html
  12. http://www.mamaquilla.org/bones.html
  13. "Kay Adshead". The Guide to World Drama. Retrieved 15 April 2009.
  14. "Kay Adshead | United Agents". www.unitedagents.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  15. "1980's | The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize". www.blackburnprize.org. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  16. "2000's | The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize". www.blackburnprize.org. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  17. "2000's | The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize". www.blackburnprize.org. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  18. "Pièce de Théâtre: Deux femmes face à la violence de la douleur d'un passé inavouable | Bones (Les Os) de Kay Adshead". www.bones-les-os.com (in French). Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  19. Glancey, Jonathan (16 August 2010). "Junkitecture and the Jellyfish theatre". the Guardian. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  20. "A - D | The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize". www.blackburnprize.org. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  21. "The Bogus Woman, Bush Theatre, London". HeraldScotland. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  22. "Fanfare for the winners". Manchester Evening News. 17 February 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2018.