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Resolution of Sound @ Stained Glass Centre 3rd June 2017

ADAM Festival @ Acomb Library 15th June 2017

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Nerd Punks 3-D @ Edinburgh Fringe, Banshee Labyrinth 20-27th 21.50-22.50


Monday, 15 August 2016

20.16 Blog #17: Here & Heritage

Last week I worked on a Play In A Week project for the Laurence Batley Theatre and Heritage Quay at the University of Huddersfield.

The Heritage Quay is an archive of Huddersfield’s local and international history, and it’s a fantastic snapshot of the character of Hudd, something this little York lad has grown to appreciate over the years.

The young people I’ve worked with through the LBT have been feisty, inventive and full of character, and this project was no exception.  Using items from the archive, as well as local historian Cyril Pearce popping in for a chat, and the group’s own knowledge, we devised a show around the Conscientious Objectors of the 1st World War, mainly from the perspective of the people of Huddersfield.

This involved first a lot of unpacking ‘socialism’, ‘conscription’, ‘liberalism’ and the women’s movement.  I even managed to slide some anarchism in there.  This was just sly of a slog, and we kept it fun and open rather than narrow and intense.  But it had to form the bedrock of the show, like the archive it had to reflect the real stories of the city.  We couldn’t be afraid of these words, terms and historical accuracy.



But it was important to make sure the group knew we were telling the story of these people, their lives, opinions, beliefs, families, friends, work and hopes.  As much as international socialism was a cornerstone, was what more important was making the audience care about these people living 100 years ago.

The group did marvellously well at balancing both, and I didn’t try and force my opinion on them.  Hopefully there was room for debate.  Certainly the show told the COs tale, but the issue was explored from a number of angles.

I think we are told continually that the COs were mainly religious men, but the Huddersfield story is one of working class solidarity as well.  The politics cannot be ignored.  Nor the fact it split the women’s movement, and though some proved themselves good citizens, others opposed a male government’s profit-hungry war.


As much as we need to encourage young people to tell their relevant current stories, it’s also important to remember the place they come from, the world that’s trying to be covered up, forgotten about, rejected and remade.  100 years ago socialism and anti-militarism were not dirty words, they were part and parcel of modern life for the working class of Huddersfield, and a history that should not only be presented and explored, but celebrated and learnt from.


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