School removes Scher name

Jeremy Austin

Troubled institution the Anna Scher Theatre is dropping the name of its famous founder, four years after she was forced to leave the venue due to ill-health.

The sign above the door of the drama teaching facility in north London has been removed and members and others associated with it are currently being canvassed for ideas for its new name. An announcement is expected in the next week. New principal Andrew Harries, who started at the school at the beginning of June, said the move will allow Scher to use her own name on whatever she does in the future – until now she did not have the right to do that.

“One thing we have been accused of is that we were trading on her name and I am anxious not to be seen to be doing that. We don’t want to be in a position where she has to refer to the board if she wants to use her name,” he said.

Of the 700 forms sent out to members, only two returned in favour of the venue retaining Scher’s name, he said. Harries added that whatever the theatre is eventually called there will be a reference to its previous title. A display of the history of the school and Scher and her methods will also be set up in the venue.

“I am not trying to erase her memory. There will always be some sort of acknowledgement of how it was founded. It doesn’t seem right to go on calling it the Anna Scher Theatre under the circumstances.”

In 1999 Scher, suffering from depression, stood down as principal at the school she started more than 30 years ago. Last December she was invited back to teach at the school – which became a charity in the seventies and is run by a board – but left soon after following clashes with the board.

She set up a new school, Anna Scher in Exile, in a church near the original venue and at the end of June held a so-called Justice Rally attended by some 100 supporters, as well as representatives of the Hare Krishna movement, in an attempt to get her reinstated.

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