- [1970s]-2018 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
0.52 cubic metres
Name of creator
Julia Pascal was born in Manchester in 1947 and moved to London at the age of 14. After training as an actress she worked at the Traverse Theatre, Apollo Theatre and with the Royal Shakespeare Company before being accepted to read English at London University.
Following her degree she returned to acting at The National Theatre and in 1978 became the first woman to direct a play there when she worked on Dorothy Parker’s ‘Men Seldom Make Passes.’ The play ran successfully for over two years and in 1980-1981 Pascal was appointed Associate Director at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond. It was around this time that she wrote the script for ‘Charlotte and Jane,’ a drama documentary about the writing of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Broadcast by the BBC in 1982, it won a BAFTA and a Royal Television Society Award later that year. She would go on to adapt Charlotte Bronte’s novel ‘Villette’ for the English stage as ‘Charlotte Bronte Goes To Europe.’
In 1983 Pascal formed the Pascal Theatre Company with the aim of focussing on writers and subjects on the margins on society. These have included Seamus Finnegan, Karim Alrawi, Carole Rumens, Melanie Phillips, and Yana Stajno.
Pascal’s first forays into theatrical writing were 1984's ‘Special Category’ and 1985's ‘Far Above Rubies’ which explored the effects of Judaism and Islam on women’s lives. Jewish identity and experiences are a key theme in Pascal’s writing, stemming from her own heritage as the grandchild of Romanian Jews. In the 1990s she wrote the three plays which were to become known as the Holocaust Trilogy; ‘Theresa’ in 1990, ‘A Dead Woman on Holiday’ in 1991, and ‘The Dybbuk’ in 1992. Pascal later adapted ‘Theresa’ for the radio and it was nominated for the Sony Prize.
Pascal's next work was L'Anee Zero, or ‘Year Zero,’ premiered in 1994 and was again set in wartime France. The work was constructed from interviews with survivors of the German occupation of Mauberge. In 1996 Pascal staged her educational play about drug abuse, 'Heroine,' again performed in both France and London before she moved on to write 'St Joan' in response to the rise of the far right in France and its subsequent use of Joan of Arc as a nationalist icon. In 1996 her radio play, 'The Road to Paradise,' was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, winning an Alfred Bradley Award.
After writing ‘The Yiddish Queen Lear’ in 1999, Pascal moved to examine post war Jewish history in ‘London Continental’ in 2000. Set at the end of the Second World War, the play features three Irish-Jewish brothers and their dilemma over supporting the establishment of a Jewish nation state. She further developed the idea with 2003's ‘King David Hotel’ and in ‘Crossing Jerusalem,’ staged the same year and focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her most recent work, ‘Nineveh,’ uses testimony of ex-soldiers in Rwanda, Lebanon, Israel and Kashmir to examine themes of guilt using the biblical legend of Jonah and the Whale.
In addition to her theatrical writing and directing, Pascal has written short stories and has contributed to The Guardian and The Independent, as well as the Jewish Chronicle, The Sunday Times, the New Statesmen and The Times Educational Supplement.
She also teaches widely. In 2003 she was Writer in Residence at the University of York teaching creative writing, and in 2007 she was Writer in Residence at the Wiener Library in London. She has taught Writing to St Lawrence University’s Study Abroad Program since 2003 and at New York University London since 2008. In 2013 she taught a seminar and creative writing workshop on the topic of ‘Writing War’ at Universität Bamberg and she continues to run regular workshops with The Pascal Theatre Company.