The pre-publicity for a new play Oct.O.Pus pulls no punches... "We are clearly not all middle class now" it states "Figures have recently shown that sixty per cent of people in the UK now identify as working class.
"With years of austerity, the end of a 'golden age', the NHS facing a funding crisis and with Brexit on the horizon; the Government have left us all in a desperate state of uncertainty" it adds "The mental health of our working class people is rapidly on the decline, unmanageable debt is beginning to surface and we want to help raise awareness and demand action before it's far too late..."
As Ken Loach, Christopher Eccleston et al will testify, one of the best ways of doing this is through dramatisation, and Oct.O.Pus will see, the group states, "three generations - Nan, Mum and Daughter - fight for survival and amongst themselves, within their precarious existence in a tiny council flat that's bursting at the seams with anxiety and unmanageable debt".
Creating the drama will be a group of diverse freelance actors, designers and crew, including disabled artists and artists from an LGBTQ+ background, "carefully selected as it was extremely important to us that they truly cared about and related to the subject of austerity in some way"...
The play will raise awareness of a family's struggles but also aims to encourage others to tell their austerity stories...
"We wish to open up important conversations in order to encourage those that may have once felt lost, silenced or isolated, to speak up and be heard knowing that someone is listening" states the group.
Within the cast are Coronation Street's Melissa Johns (Imogen Pascoe), Caroline Wagstaffe seen recently in From Heaven to Hell at the GM Fringe, and Anna Swan, who appeared recently at the Arts Theatre in the West End.
They will be working with a script by James Ernest, who explains; "Women in the arts are also currently hugely unrepresented. I know so many extremely talented female actors who are struggling to be seen. So, when writing the play I made a conscious decision to write bold well rounded female roles, the sorts of characters that I felt were hardly seen on the British stage."
Oct.O.Pus aims to be staged at the Kings Arms at the end of June, with five per cent of the performance profits going to the Partisan collective in Manchester. Before then, however, the group needs to raise £1,000 to pay for sets, rehearsal space, props, costumes etc, as there is little funding available to stage theatre with the working class at its centre.
To see the ace trailer for the play – click here
To donate to the crowdfund see here www.crowdfunder.co.uk/octopus
Photography by Javier X Camanas