The Socialist

The Socialist 6 December 2017

NHS campaigns stop closures!

The Socialist issue 974

Glenfield victory shows people power can save our NHS

Tyneside walk-in closures postponed after rally


Nationalise rail now

End Tory war on poor

Rough sleeping crisis: make homes, not arrests

Royal wedding exposes them-and-us visa system

RBS to sack 1,000: nationalise the banks

Branson sues NHS: kick out the profiteers


Fighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle


Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

Labour council Blairites deselected


Demonstrations by uni students and staff greet Bath vice-chancellor resignation

Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students

TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections

Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters


Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike hits all the right notes

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

The Socialist Inbox


PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference

Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services

School staff strike against privatisation

Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes

Arriva bus strikers stand firm


Irish capitalist state: rotten to the core

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

Trump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse

 
 
 
 
 

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Theatre: We Are the Lions, Mr Manager

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike hits all the right notes

Medhavi Patel as Jayaben Desai in Townsend Productions' 'We Are the Lions, Mr Manager', photo by Townsend Productions

Medhavi Patel as Jayaben Desai in Townsend Productions' 'We Are the Lions, Mr Manager', photo by Townsend Productions   (Click to enlarge)

Bill Mullins, Southwark Socialist Party

This marvellous little play about Jayaben Desai, leader of the famous Grunwick strike, hits all the right notes in its retelling of one of the most important struggles in the turbulent 1970s.

Neil Gore's script works to traditional agitprop methods of bringing the events to life, but never loses anything of the dramatic and emotional battle led by Jayaben throughout the strike.

Grunwick was a defining strike. It encapsulated much of the 1970s' struggles by the working class against the employers' offensive.

What was special about it was that the bosses of the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories in north London had deliberately set out to only employ mainly Asian women workers. They thought they could push them around more and so super-exploit their labour.

It was the courage of Jayaben and others that brought about a battle by these low-paid workers. They took strike action in response to the inhuman conditions imposed on them by George Ward, the owner of the factory.

Medhavi Patel's Jayaben is excellent. So is Neil's portrayal of a whole host of characters - particularly Jack Dromey, who was then on the left and secretary of Brent trade union council.

Both Neil and Medhavi act their hearts out with real compassion. They bring the whole period vividly to life during the couple of hours they are onstage.

Director Louise Townsend's production makes imaginative use of limited props, such as wheeling on a factory fence which portrays the pickets themselves. Footage played in the background makes up for the small size of the cast.

At one stage, Jayaben calls on the first row of the audience to join her on stage to take part in the events of the mass picket of 11 July 1977.

The play also brings out the diabolical nature of the Grunwick bosses and their right-wing supporters in the shadowy 'National Association for Freedom'.

But importantly, it features the massive support of workers throughout the country for the struggle. This includes the heroic role of postal workers at the local depot - who refused to allow sacks of mail containing processed film to go back to customers.

What was heart-breaking, though, was the cowardly role of the trade union leaders.

There was the right-wing leadership of Apex, the union the strikers joined (now part of general union GMB) and the invidious role of Trade Union Congress leaders. Throughout the strike, in the background, they tried to undermine it - because it was embarrassing to the Labour government.

Neil often accompanies his presence onstage with musical renderings - socialist songs from the time, and his own creations as well.

The name of the play - "We Are the Lions, Mr Manager" - refers to Jayaben's confrontation with the manager "Mr Jack." She responded to his slur that the factory was like a zoo with "in the zoo, Mr Jack, there are many animals.

"Some are monkeys you can dance on your fingers, and some are lions. We are the lions, Mr Jack, and we will eat you."

We Are the Lions, Mr Manager is touring the country into 2018. Visit townsendproductions.org.uk for details.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 30 November 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.


In this issue


NHS

Glenfield victory shows people power can save our NHS

Tyneside walk-in closures postponed after rally


Socialist Party news and analysis

Nationalise rail now

End Tory war on poor

Rough sleeping crisis: make homes, not arrests

Royal wedding exposes them-and-us visa system

RBS to sack 1,000: nationalise the banks

Branson sues NHS: kick out the profiteers


Women

Fighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle


What we think

Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

Labour council Blairites deselected


Socialist Students

Demonstrations by uni students and staff greet Bath vice-chancellor resignation

Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students

TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections

Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike hits all the right notes

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

The Socialist Inbox


Workplace news and analysis

PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference

Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services

School staff strike against privatisation

Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes

Arriva bus strikers stand firm


International socialist news and analysis

Irish capitalist state: rotten to the core

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

Trump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse


 

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