"These plays show that the issues of equal pay and union organisation are as relevant today as they were forty years ago..."
Back in the day, political plays about current events were de rigueur for trade unionists and activists, dating back in Salford to Ewan MacColl's Theatre of Action and Shelagh Delaney's attempt to get a working class theatre group and venue off the ground.
During the 1970s, the genre really took off, with 7:84, CAST and, locally, North West Spanner dramatically stirring things up... 'agitprop', 'alternative', 'fringe'; call it what you want but while there are a few exceptions (We Are The Lions Mr Manager), political theatre playing to big audiences has kind of died away - in line with political drama on tv - as even small companies are increasingly going corporate.
Now is a good time to remind people of what was,...and so Workers' Play Time, a collection of political plays written over the past forty years is being published at a good moment by New Internationalist in association with the General Federation of Trade Unions.
On Saturday 19th May, 6pm at the Three Minute Theatre in Affleck's Arcade Manchester, Workers' Play Time is getting its Northern launch, courtesy of the Mary Quaile Club, which will include performed readings of excerpts from a number of the plays collected in the book.
One of these will be Out on the Costa del Trico, a play created by the Women's Theatre Group in 1977 about the successful 21 week strike over equal pay at the Trico factory in West London in the long hot summer of 1976.
The readings have been organised by John Topliff, co-founder with his partner Gina Frost, of the Three Minute Theatre, and also speaking at the event will be Doug Nicholls, General Secretary of the GFTU, and Sally Groves, who was a shop steward at Trico in 1976 and is writing a book about the strike to be published later this year called Trico: A Victory to Remember.
"We are delighted to be working with the GFTU and Three Minute Theatre to present this evening of political drama" says Bernadette Hyland, co-founder of the Mary Quaile Club "These plays show that the issues of equal pay and union organisation are as relevant today as they were forty years ago."
Northern Launch of Workers' Play Time
Saturday 19th May 6pm
Three Minute Theatre
Affleck's Arcade, Oldham Street, Manchester
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