Rod’s Blog 25.9.14
‘We’re Not Going Back’ is back on the road and I am pleased to say is a real hit with audiences. Full houses at Hull Fruit Space, Barnsley Civic, Oldham Campus and Doncaster Cast have enjoyed this beautiful show and the stunning performances by all four of the women in the team. It is really rewarding when a show provokes discussion in the way this show has. Like ‘Wrong ‘Un’ this is pure Theatre Activism – it is more than an entertaining comedy musical about three sisters, it galvanises people and brings them together to share their views and air their opinions.
Last night in Doncaster at the post show discussion the audience included some quite radical young women and the subject of Focus E15 came up. Focus E15 is a group of 29 homeless young mothers in Newham who have all been evicted by stringent new laws in Newham Council and so they are squatting in a perfectly sound empty council flat (electricity still on, power showers working …but emptied to clear the way for the Olympic Park …still empty but not demolished). This kind of direct political action is an example of ‘ordinary folk’ living ‘extraordinary lives’ – to quote the opening song of the show.
‘We’re Not Going Back’ is exactly that – a play about ordinary folk taking on The State, fighting back against an attack on their communities and their class. The fact that the miners’ strike was crushed by Thatcher’s government using all the might of the police , the media and even the army (allegedly) but that it took a year to defeat those mining communities is an inspiration to contemporary struggles like Focus E15. It is interesting that as soon as ‘ordinary folk’ fight back then the first weapon deployed by The State is the media. Already the Newham mothers have been reported as being ‘brainwashed’ by dangerous radical activists. There were similar press headlines describing suffragettes a hundred years ago as ‘deranged’ and ‘mad’.
Earlier in the month a lot of my Scottish friends were waiting nervously for the results of the independence referendum. Everyone I know and respect (mostly young artists under the age of 35) had voted ‘Yes’ and saw the chance to break away from the so-called ‘Union’ as a real opportunity to build a post-capitalist, socially just and corporate free society. A dream some would call that. The alternative to this ‘dream’ is more of the same. A Labour Party that has no spine and believes the best way to cope with capitalism is to work within it and try to make it ‘fair’.
The argument in England is – make sure Labour get in next May to keep the Tories out. But I don’t see any difference in policies. Labour is committed to an austerity plan, Labour still refuses to embark on a real tax attack of the big corporations and if you believe they will save the NHS then why was it Labour who began the gradual privatisation of NHS contracts starting with the soft targets such as catering and cleaning services moving on to force NHS ‘Trusts’ to employ independent management systems. Labour started the rot. So – I am very disappointed that Scotland voted ‘no’ but very inspired by the 45% that voted against all the Westminster self-serving career politicians. Of course I’m attacking Labour – they are supposed to be in opposition to the party from Hell UKIP and the Tories (who I feel are getting closer and closer to a coalition). Nobody in mainstream politics is brave enough to propose massive system change. They thrive on fear and they are themselves paralysed with fear. Fear of change. Miliband says we are all ok ‘together’ – holding hands as the good ship Capitalism sinks slowly and dramatically after hitting the ice-berg of resource depletion and climate change.
But there are movements offering a real radical alternative. The Universal Unconditional Basic Income is an initiative that would scare most businessmen to death – but it is a real solution to the unfairness of the wage system that controls everyone in the modern world. If a political party was brave enough to propose it I would be confident that they would gain a great deal of respect from the electorate – obviously while money equals power the rich would resist this and try hard to bring down the military to stop it – but the mass of global citizens who would benefit from this new system would overwhelm. Another dream for me – another nightmare to those in power.
About Rod: Rod became Artistic Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company in 2006, following his role as associate director at the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth. He has also ran The Hub Theatre School in Cornwall and been an actor with several companies including Kneehigh Theatre. Directing credits for Red Ladder include Where’s Vietnam?, Forgotten Things, Riot, Rebellion & Bloody Insurrection, Ugly, Sex & Docks & Rock ‘N’ Roll, Big Society! and Promised Land. Rod is both a life-long Liverpool supporter and a believer in Proudhon’s principles of anarchy – the two might be connected.