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Preview: We're Not Going Back at Durham Miners Gala

We’re Not Going Back

Written by Boff Whalley
Directed by Rod Dixon
New musical sees the miners’ strike through the eyes of three sisters.

Red Ladder Theatre Company opens a 2014 UK tour at the Durham Miners’ Gala (Miners Hall, Red Hill, Durham) on Wednesday 9 July, with a new musical comedy We’re Not Going Back, looking at the 1984/85 miners' strike through the eyes of three headstrong sisters in a South Yorkshire pit village.  
Written by ex-Chumbawamba guitarist and writer Boff Whalley, and directed by Red Ladder’s Artistic Director Rod Dixon, We’re Not Going Back is a musical commissioned by the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regions of Unite the Union, and is performed by Victoria Brazier, Claire Marie Seddon and Stacey Sampson. 

We’re Not Going Back is about the 1984/85 miners’ strike. More or less. But in this hard-hitting musical comedy there are no miners. Instead, we follow the fortunes of three sisters –Olive, Mary and Isabel – hit hard by the Government’s war against the miners and determined to set up a branch of Women Against Pit Closures.
It’s February1984, and as the rumour mill stirs with developments of impending pit closures, the coal miners’ unions are drawn into a battle of attrition against an unbending government. Forced into poverty, miners and their families become part of a strike that will resonate through the coming decades.

But for many people, the war fought between politicians, police and pickets took a back seat to the fight to hold together families, friendships and community – fought on the battleground of living room and soup kitchen, meeting hall and social club. It was a battle fought with laughter and songs, with knees-ups, punch-ups and piss-ups.

With music, comedy and grit, the three sisters embrace the values of the ’84 strike and underline the empowerment; determination and vulnerability those communities were faced with in this war.
Writer Boff Whalley comments:
"30 years ago I was part of a miners' strike support group in Leeds. It was a strange time - there was a real sense of 'taking stock' of what my politics were. For me, the strongest part - the heart - of the miners' strike was the family support, specifically the women. Despite the strike's outcome, all the hardship and poverty, the main memory of that year for the women was of laughter, fun and surprise - a big adventure. How to take on the machinery of the capitalist state; and have a good time doing it. I knew this feeling had to be the underlying belly of the play."
Boff Whalley was a founder member of Chumbawamba. His past theatre writing credits for Red Ladder include Riot, Rebellion & Bloody Insurrection,  Sex & Docks & Rock n Roll, and Big Society(starring ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ panellist Phill Jupitus).

Rod Dixon became Artistic Director of Red Ladder in 2006. His past theatre director credits for Red Ladder include Where’s Vietnam?, Forgotten Things, Riot, Rebellion & Bloody Insurrection, UGLY, Sex & Docks & Rock n Roll , Big Society, and Playing The Joker.
Victoria Brazier trained at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama. Theatre credits include: The Borrowers with West Yorkshire Playhouse, Hobsons Choicewith The Royal Exchange and A Great Warwith JB Shorts. Television credits include: Boy A with Channel 4, Land Girlswith BBC One and Doctors with BBC Television.
Claire-Marie Seddon trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in musical theatre and has extensive training in performing arts and musical theatre in various institutions in the UK. Theatre credits include: 162 Bars Out with The National Theatre of Scotland, The Key To A Quiet Life with Dead Earnest and War Of The Worlds along with various others at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Television credits include Children In Need and Tonight’s The Night With John Barrowman with BBC Television.
Stacey Sampson’s television credits include: This Is England ’88 with Warp Films and Channel 4, The Syndicate and Waking The Dead with BBC Television. Sampson’s theatre credits include: The History Boys with Sheffield Crucible, Watermarkat Belfast Waterfront Hall and a national tour of The Borrowers.
Red Ladder champions new writing, particularly that which challenges or agitates. It is a radical theatre company with 45 years of history; acknowledged as one of Britain’s leading national touring companies producing high quality theatre contributing to social change and global justice.

Actor Stacey Sampson is writing a blog about being the main ‘bread winner’ in her home following returning to work after having a baby – as well as writing about the rehearsal process.

Photos: Tim Smith 

Tour dates:

Wed 9 – Fri 11 July
Durham Gala - Miners Hall, Red Hill,
03000 266600

Thurs 11 – Fri 12 September
Duncairn Cultural Arts Centre
028 9074 7114

Mon 15 September
Fruit, Hull
01482 221113

Thurs 18 – Sat 20 September
The Civic, Barnsley
01226 327 000

Sun 21 September
Hebden Bridge Trades Club
01422 845 265

Mon 22 – Tues 23 September
Oldham Coliseum
0161 624 2829

Wed 24 – Thurs 25 September
CAST, Doncaster
01302 303 959

Fri 26 September
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
01484 430528

Thurs 2 October
The Welfare, Swansea
01639 843163

Fri 3 October
Cwmaman Theatre, Aberdare
01685 887100

Sat 4 October
The Savoy Theatre, Tonyrefall
01443 670250

Mon 6 – Tues 7 October
Congress Theatre, Cwmbran
01633 868 239

Wed 8 October
The Royalty, Sunderland
0191 567 2669

Thurs 9 October
Arts Centre Washington
0191 219 3455

Fri 10 October
The Witham, Barnard Castle
01833 631 107

Sat 11 October
Queens Hall Arts Centre, Hexham
01343 652 477

Wed 15 October
Regal Theatre, Bathgate
01506 632 558

Fri 17 October
Seaton Delaval (venue TBC)

Sat 18 October
Hemsworth Miner’s Welfare

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