A dear friend of ours passed away a week ago today. You were much loved and will be missed sorely. R.I.P. Jackie Skarvellis.
Born in Cardiff and a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Jackie Skarvellis was a committed champion, as an actor and playwright, of London’s fringe theatre for more than 40 years.
She began her career at the Little Theatre, St Martin’s Lane in William Gerhardie’s lyrical comedy Donna Quixote in 1968. Already a prolific writer (in 1972 The Stage noted a tally of “over 30 plays”), her own early work was cut from an altogether different cloth, as the title of 1973’s Wankers – an attack on critics – illustrated.
She forged close relationships with (and also managed) a number of London fringe companies, including Playroom Theatre, the Canal Cafe Theatre and Pentameters, while also maintaining a busy freelance schedule.
In 1980, she understudied Dorothy Tutin as Madame Dubarry (a part she played) in John Peacock’s Reflections and, similarly, Joanna David’s Varya in The Cherry Orchard in 1983, both at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
In 1981, Skarvellis performed as French chanteuse Piaf in Vanessa Drucker’s eponymous play at the New Inn Theatre, Ealing and appeared as Jocasta in Sophocles’ King Oedipus with Theatr Clwyd.
She was seen in Hisashi Inoue’s Kabuki-influenced Kesho (Bloomsbury Theatre, 1988), Steven Berkoff’s Greek (1993) and East (1994) at the White Bear, Kennington and Martin Sherman’s Messiah (Hackney Empire, 1999).
Later roles included Omega (Euripides’ Hecuba, Theatro Technis, 2003), Queen Victoria (The Pirates of Penzance, English National Opera, 2007) and Bette (Aristophanes’ The Frogs, Theatro Technis, 2013).
Productions of her own plays included The Hall of the Falling Ushers (1981), Eat Your Heart Out Joan Crawford (1983) and Batter (1985). Her one-man play, James Dean Is Dead! (Long Live James Dean), was published by Oberon Books in 2010.
In 2009, she received a best fringe auteur award from Fringe Report.
Jackie Skarvellis was born on December 26, 1942 and died on October 26, aged 73.