Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/774/17113

From The Socialist newspaper, 17 July 2013

Theatre review

"We will be free!" - the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs

RMT's Bob Crow at the Tolpuddle festival, photo Paul Mattsson

RMT's Bob Crow at the Tolpuddle festival, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Neil Gore of Townsend Productions theatre company both wrote and acts in "We Will Be Free! - the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs." Neil spoke to Steve Bell.

"Our play, set in 1834, follows George and Betsy Loveless' extraordinary story. He was a Methodist minister and leader of the six Dorset farm labourers tried, convicted and condemned to harsh transportation to Australia by an oppressive government.

Few ever returned, given the difficult journey and the slave conditions involved. All this was just for having the temerity to swear a secret oath and form a secret union to fight against a succession of wage cuts inflicted by the local landowner.

As this story that defined the emergence of trade unionism and Chartism is unravelled, we see how the arch tyrant-in-chief James Frampton, local squire and magistrate, springs the trap.

We see how Home Secretary Lord Melbourne delights in ordering dodgy legal proceedings; how labourer Edward Legg betrays the Martyrs; and how the judiciary revel in using his evidence to condemn the Martyrs to imprisonment and transportation to Australia.

The 2011 Tolpuddle Martyrs festival saw a record 10,000 people celebrate the victory of the early trade union movement , photo Rob Emery

The 2011 Tolpuddle Martyrs festival saw a record 10,000 people celebrate the victory of the early trade union movement , photo Rob Emery   (Click to enlarge)

We see their families' anguish, the subsequent howl of protest and the battle for their reprieve. Betsy becomes politicised and joins the fight to bring back her husband and participates in the beginnings of the fledgling labour movement.

Turning this epic story into a successful play performed by two people was immensely challenging and very rewarding. As in our first production of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, we use many different theatrical devices to keep the audience on their toes.

Being a two-hander has given us the flexibility to reach a huge audience cross-section by playing vastly different venues, from major regional main-house theatres to arts centres, village halls and community centres, labour and working men's clubs.

Building on Townsend Productions' entertaining theatrical style, packed with surprises, that was developed through our production of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, we tell this vital story using live music, powerful songs of the time with political cartoon, animation and puppetry.

Comparison with present

The actors will play all the characters. They perform at breakneck pace to present this story that raises questions about present day political issues through the experiences of the past.

The play is a reminder of the key issues faced by the labour movement today: increased casualisation of the workforce, diminishing rights at work, individual contracts that ignore pensions and overtime, frozen or reduced wages, cuts to public services, wilful destruction of the welfare system and the hopelessness of poverty.

The union Unite is raising awareness of these issues using education and theatre as a means of stirring people into action and challenging the inequalities workers face, particularly agricultural workers now that the Agricultural Workers Board, that monitored and set wages and working conditions for farmworkers, has recently been abolished by the Con-Dem coalition.

The play is a reminder of times when people, joining together to argue their cause for equality and justice, had a tremendous impact despite not having the vote in a democratic election.

It reveals the beginnings of politicisation of the mass of working people, rights that were fought for, and that we should make sure we do not lose.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs' story is important for the trade union movement and most unions have offered their support through small donations. We will perform the show at some union conferences, at this year's TUC conference and the prestigious Tolpuddle Festival.

The play is aimed really at anybody interested in politics or social history, or anybody who loves theatre, as it is a very theatrical storytelling experience. We try to make the show as accessible as possible to all, so really there is something in it for everyone."

Play previewed on Saturday 20 July, only available as part of the ticket for the Tolpuddle Festival. For other venues see: townsendproductions.org.uk

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 17 July 2013:


Socialist Party news and analysis

'We've had enough' - All strike together!

Urgent - trade unions must build a political voice for the working class

Fire cuts, pay cuts, pension cuts, job cuts

MPs' pay to rise to £74,000...

Another drugs company scam

G4S tagging scandal: another failure of privatisation

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

USA: Zimmerman, Trayvon and racism

'Black July' - Sri Lanka 1983 and the beginning of civil war


Socialist Party feature

End violence against women!


Socialist Party review

The story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs


Socialist Party workplace news

Lecturers in Wales expose working conditions

Victory for teachers at UEL

Equinox workers strike again

Fight Royal Mail privatisation!

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Greens rejected in Brighton

Bedroom tax non-payment soars in Scotland: Stop evictions

Councils: Don't do the Con-Dems' dirty work!

'Sick Of Your Boss?' week of action reports

Durham Miners' Gala shows mood for new party

Campaigning against anti-LGBT bullying in schools

Lincolnshire - save our libraries

Building the Socialist Party


Readers' comments

Who are the real criminals?


 

Home   |   The Socialist 17 July 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Tolpuddle:

triangle'Let the producers of wealth unite - and what can withstand them?'

triangleLarge and upbeat Tolpuddle event

triangleMood to defeat the Blairites

triangleBristol North East Socialist Party: The Tolpuddle Martyrs & trade unionism

triangleDetermined mood to defend the unions

Union:

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

Labour:

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleTories torn - bin them now

Agricultural:

triangleWhat would a socialist food industry look like?

triangleProfit system exacerbates flooding

Theatre:

triangleCorbyn confirms £1bn for the arts

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

18/10/17

Port Talbot

Powerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

18/10/17

Russian revolution

October 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

11/10/17

Theresa May

Theresa May, Frida Kahlo and turning women into wares

11/10/17

Docks

Poverty, repression and fightback on the docks

11/10/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

11/10/17

TV

Shocking insight into Isis

2/10/17

Sexism

Hugh Hefner's exploitation of women

27/9/17

Football

Women's football - Sampson allegations

20/9/17

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

20/9/17

Socialist

Interview: the "socialist John Le Carré"

20/9/17

Women

Refreshing, anticapitalist - but little pointing a way forward

13/9/17

Women

New documentary asks women how their bodies are sexualised and policed

13/9/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

13/9/17

Che Guevara

Intimate insight into a revolutionary icon

6/9/17

Pensions

Bosses' pensions robbery

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2