Watch…United Kingdom at a Mary Quaile Club event. Written by Manchester writer Jim Allen and set in Jim’s backyard, the council estate of Middleton, it is the story of how a group of tenants decide to organise a rent strike. It was made for television and shown on BBC in 1981 – just at the beginning of the Thatcher era – and never shown again. It represents the end of an era of left wing political drama on TV, after which writers such as Allen moved into film or theatre. It marked the end of seeing on television working class people as political activists in their own history. Come to 3 Minute Theatre on 27 September to see this outstanding film and join in the discussion about politics today and what we can do about it. Further info see
Go to a play...about women during the Miners Strike in 1984/5: “We Are Not Going Back” by Red Ladder Theatre. Catch it at only two dates on this side of the border at University Oldham Campus on 22 & 23 September. This is the 30th year since the strike and there have been plays, a documentary and some TV programmes but not much has been said about the role of women during the strike. The writer of the play Boff Whalley says he intends to express the way in which the strike opened up working class womens’ lives. Set in a mining village it is about three sisters, their dreams and hopes for the future and the impact the strike has on them. Boff wrote the exceptional “WrongUn” play about a suffragette last year so it looks like we will be in for another great night. Red Ladder have recently had all of their Arts Council grant cut so we need to support their productions. Further info see
Find out about women’s history… This autumn the Aquinas College, Stockport is offering a 20 week course over two terms on the history of radical women. The course is called From Mary Wollstonecraft to Women’s Liberation and the course will explore the history of radical women in Britain over two centuries from the 1790s to 1970s and their struggle for civil and political rights. It will include the contribution of women from Greater Manchester. The course is being tutored by Michael Herbert, MA, who has been researching and writing about radical history for many years. His most recent book is “Up Then Brave Women: Manchester Radical Women, 1819-1918″ which was published in October 2012. For more information or to book a place on the course please contact Sheila Lahan at Aquinas College, telephone 0161 419 9163, email : Sheila@aquinas.ac.uk
Visit…Gallery Oldham – one of the best art galleries in the North West. It doesn’t have the money or profile of galleries such as the City Art gallery in Manchester or the IWM but it has a warmth and sense of localism that I think is really important for arts organisations that are funded by local tax payers. Whenever I visit GO there are always local working class people at the exhibitions due, I think, to the way in which the staff produce exhibitions that draw people in to find out more about Oldham and its rich history. This week I visited their 200 Years on Union Street exhibition, a fascinating retrospective of how the town has changed since the 1800s. In 2014 Oldham has a new tram service but sadly previous council leaders have destroyed many of the wonderful buildings that made this such an interesting place to live in and visit. Highly recommended.
See some new plays…Contact Theatre are producing six brand new plays, each one is only 15 minutes. It is part of Pull Your Finger Out productions who say: they are proud to present a varied and dynamic programme of six brand new unperformed plays, written, directed and performed by some of the finest North West talent. Further info see