United We Stand, by Neil Gore, will open at The CLF Theatre in The Bussey Building in Peckham from 2-14 November, 2015.
In the 1960s and 70s the UK’s building companies were making millions re-building the country, but building workers faced the most dangerous working conditions and poorest wages of any trade. In the summer of ’72, for twelve weeks, 300,000 building workers launched their industry’s first national all-out strike to end cash “lump” wages and seek better pay by using the controversial tactic of ‘Flying Pickets’. The partial success of the strike, and the methods used, enraged the construction industry and government, and culminated in the arrest of 24 builders in North Wales who were charged with offences including conspiracy to intimidate and affray. The “24” were prosecuted at Shrewsbury Crown Court in 1973 and three were jailed, including building workers Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson.
Sharp and humorous, United We Stand tells the story behind the compelling dispute and dispels the myth, put about at the time, that the pickets were a criminally violent rather than ordinary working men seeking a better life for themselves and their fellow workers.
Combining Townsend Productions’ trademark cast of two playing multiple roles, grand theatrical style and wit with popular and political songs about the strike, arranged by renowned folk musician John Kirkpatrick and Ricky Tomlinson’s poems from his time in prison, the production aims to bring the full story of the compelling dispute to life in a powerful and thought-provoking new play.
The events surrounding the strike are still making headlines to this day, and 42 years on, the high-profile Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, led by picket turned actor Ricky Tomlinson is still seeking to overturn the unjust prosecution of the 24 building workers.
Ricky Tomlinson said about the play: “I am delighted Townsend Productions are presenting a play about the 1972 building workers strike, and the plight of the Shrewsbury 24 building worker pickets. It is 41 years since I, together with Des Warren and John McKinsie Jones were charged with conspiracy and jailed.”
“We were charged with conspiracy, but we believe the real conspiracy was between the government, the building contractors and the judiciary. They wanted the prison sentences to act as a deterrent, to prevent workers from taking strike action. Every worker should know what happened to us so as to ensure it does not happen again.”
United We Stand is directed by Louise Townsend and will be designed by Amy Yardley, with lighting by Brian O’Carroll and music by John Kirkpatrick, one of most prolific figures on the English folk scene. The various roles will be played by Neil Gore and William Fox.
Throughout the run there will be post show discussions on the play and its relevance to today’s society with amongst others Ricky Tomlinson, Tom Smith MP, Dave Anderson MP and Len McCluskey (All on Monday 21nd November), Dave Smith (Black Listing Campaign – Wed 4 November) and Matt Wrack (General Secretary FBU – Thu 5 November).
The production is produced in association with Harrogate Theatre and Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre and sponsored by Southwark Socialists, part of the Independent Socialist Network and has the backing of the unions UNITE, NUT, Unison, RMT, GMB, Amiel Melburn & Unity Theatre Trust.
United We Stand will run at The CLF Theatre, Block A, Bussey Building from 2-14 November, 2015.
Further details at http://www.townsendproductions.org.uk/
UNITED WE STAND
By Neil Gore
Director Louise Townsend
Designer: Amy Yardley
Lighting Designer: Brian O’Carroll
Music Director: John Kirkpatrick
Cast: Neil Gore and William Fox
Dates: Monday 2- Saturday 14 November at 7.30pm
Venue: The CLF Theatre, Block A, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 4ST
Ticket prices: £12 (Concessions £10; Mondays all tickets £5)
Box office details: 07812 063 409 or online at http://www.clfartcafe.org
Thursday 17th September 2015