NEWS

 

 

upcoming visit to sunderland

13 Feb 2020

As part of our research and development project that is focussed on UK shipbuilding, we’re looking forward to meeting retired former shipbuilders in Sunderland this coming week at the Maritime Heritage. Here’s some excellent pictures of Wearside shipbuilding dating from the mid-sixties and early seventies.

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Research for our new show

10 Feb 2020

We've been busy carrying out research for our upcoming show about the famous Upper Clyde Shipbuilders' (UCS) 'Work-In'. There’s plenty to go through to do justice to what was an inspiring campaign in the fight for the right to work. 

The black-and-white photos are from the UCS shipyards at the time, together with a shot of the shop stewards’ meeting in 1971 showing Jimmy Reid (centre) and Jimmy Airlie (right).

Keep an eye on this page for further updates. You can also follow our progress on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

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Our ‘Yes! Yes! UCS!’ research takes us to Fairfield Heritage, Govan

6 Feb 2020

This week we visited the site of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ (UCS) yard as part of our research into the inspiring story behind the UCS workers' 'Work In' of 1971/2. Our visit took in Fairfield Heritage's "The Story of Glasgow’s Greatest Shipyard" including a look around the former boardroom and offices as well as the main entrance.

Pictured is Louise standing in the entrance gates of the famous shipyard, and also a photograph of how it looked in 1970. It's well worth a visit to the brilliantly-restored building and excellent exhibition.

BAE Systems still operate the shipyard to this day, a yard that would now be closed if it wasn’t for the now famous UCS 'Work-In'. It is this story which forms the basis for our exciting new show which will feature rock and folk music of the time. Keep an eye on this page for further details!

 

 

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Our one-man show of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists continues apace

16 Jan 2020

Neil is still busy touring The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, described as 'an entertaining, absorbing show, wrapped around a kernel of socialist vision that leaves its audience thinking, discussing and debating – as well as smiling' (The Reviews Hub).

Ragged will be performed at East Harptree Theatre in Bristol on Thursday 23 January, and thereafter at venues across the UK including West Bromwich, Sheffield, Dumfries & Galloway, and Warrington - further details here.

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Our up-and-coming UCS play

16 Jan 2020

We’ve been busy working on our Arts Council-funded research and development project into the story of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS). This will be the focus of our new play, specifically UCS’s historic 1971 dispute which, unusually, took the form of a work-in and resulted in the then Heath-led government relenting to the demands of the workers.

As part of our research we have been carrying out interviews, including with Stephen Roxborough (pictured), ex-shipbuilder at Govan, and Margaret Gilmore (pictured), widow of Sam Gilmore, former convener of shop stewards at Govan Shipbuilders.

We also visited Appledore to interview ex-shipbuilders there. See our photos taken at Appledore (right). In 1970, it was upgraded and opened as the first covered shipyard in the UK.

Following our interviews and discussions, Neil is currently busy writing the script - watch this space!

Over the coming weeks, we will be continuing this research in Belfast and in Tyne & Wear.

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Neil Gore performed 'The ragged Trousered Philanthropists at The House of Commons

1 Nov 2018

Amazing day, John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor attended the show and said it was "A phenomenal performance' 

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Nominated For The Eastern Eye Award For Theatre. Best Actress

11 May 2018 - 11 May 2018

We are delighted to announce Medhavi Patel has been nominated for Best Theatre Actress at this year’s Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre Awards 2018 (ACTA).

Medhavi has been selected as a finalist after her stand-out performance as Grunwick Strike leader Jayaben Desai in the touring production of We Are The Lions, Mr Manager!.

Written by Neil Gore, We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! relives the true story of the Grunwick dispute, a movement which challenged the way unions thought about new immigrant communities coming to the UK in the 1970s.


Since the play made its debut in October 2017 Medhavi has put on stirring performances all over the country, and the company is delighted she has been recognised for her hard work.


We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! finished its seven-month UK tour at the Brighton Fringe Festival this weekend, and the award nomination is a fitting end to a successful tour.


Now, in its 3rd year, the ACTAs is the leading event recognising the valuable contribution artists of South Asian heritage make to the British arts scene.  


The awards will be announced in a ceremony in London on 22nd June.


Medhavi said: “I am delighted and proud to have been nominated as Best Theatre Actress in this year's Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Awards. Playing the role of Jayaben Desai in We Are The Lions, Mr Manager, has been tremendous, and I am so pleased the play has received such recognition on its tour across the UK.


“As an actress from a BAME background, traditionally the roles that are available to us can be limiting. Too often Indian women can be typecast as the subservient housewives, mothers and suppressed daughters, so to play an iconic and strong leader from a Gujarati background has been a true blessing.


“It is hard not to be touched by Jayaben's story. Like her, my mother worked in factories when my parents first arrived in the UK in the 1970’s, so this story and the many of the other stories of the time about the struggles faced by South Asian women in the workplace resonates with me, my family as well as my community on a many levels.


“It has been an honour to relive the story of the Grunwick Strike on stage. Jayaben's story will continue to inspire me long after the play has stopped touring and I hope this play along with the many other lost stories about strong women leaders can be relived, enjoyed and portrayed to inspire.”

Director Louise Townsend said: “We are delighted Medhavi has been recognised for her exceptional performance as Jayaben Desai in our play We Are The Lions, Mr Manager!, which made its debut in October 2017 and has since toured across the UK.


“The role of Jayaben Desai is no mean feat, but Medhavi has delighted audiences across the country with her phenomenal talent, and she has done Neil Gore’s fantastic script justice. The pair have worked tremendously together to bring the story of the Grunwick Strike to life, and Medhavi has truly captured the spirit of Jayaben.


“We wish Medhavi and the rest of the nominees the best of luck at the ceremony.”


“Amit Roy, chairman of the ACTAs judging panel and Eastern Eye editor-at-large said: “This is our third year and the wealth of nominees for the ACTAs indicate more and more young British Asians are going into the arts. An increasing number, especially in a category such as literature, are also becoming part of the mainstream. This is a heartening trend which we welcome. But there is still much more to be done. We began the ACTAs because we felt British Asian artists, try as they might, were not getting the recognition they deserved. Art, which enhances life, is for all.”

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'We Are The Lions Mr Manager' was on BBC Radio 4's The Listening Project

5 May 2018 - 5 May 2018

We were delighted to be asked to be part of the panel on BBC Radio 4's #THeListeningProject presented  by Fi Glover.  It was filmed at Tara_Arts  for its's 'I'll say It Again Festival'  celebrating the centenary of Women's Suffrage which we are also part of. You can hear Medhavi Patel speaking about the show and it's relevance to today. A great night was had by all. Thank you.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b1hy9q

FINAL WK. @Tara_Arts @hertfordtheatre @WatermansArts @brightonfringe #OldCourtroom 9.00pm

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Sklp Samaj Cardiff

7 Apr 2018 - 7 Apr 2018

Amazing night at Skip Sumaj last weekend- Anoup said

' This was really an honour. We welcomed so many people to our Samaj to learn and pay tribute to the incredible Jayaben Desai. A Gujarati woman who altered the course of life for thousands upon thousands of people.

All she asked for was dignity, respect and equality. It seems simple enough but the battles and war that ensued seeking basic human rights was long with so much stacked against the "Strikers in Sarees". 

Gujarati people have bought so much to the U.K. this was one story we were glad to promote alongside our very own stories here in Cardiff.

Our thanks to We Are The Lions Mr Manager by Neil Gore and all our volunteers for hosting a wonderful evening'

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'Don't Miss' in The Guardian Guide

17 Feb 2018 - 17 Feb 2018

Amazing 'We Are The Lions Mr Manager'  by Neil Gore  was a 'Don't miss' in The Guardian Guide on Saturday 

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Harrogate Theatre -Younger Reviewers

9 Feb 2018

And here’s a review of ‘We Are The Lions’ by Lauren McGaun, The Grammar School at Leeds 

A roaring success at Harrogate Theatre

Based on a true story, We Are The Lions is an emotional account of an Indian woman’s struggle for justice in the workplace. Set in the intimate and cosy location of the studio theatre, this production shines a spotlight on the historic abysmal treatment of workers.

Neil Gore, who also wrote the script, plays an incompetent Mr Alden. From his animated opening performance of ‘In the Summertime’ by Mungo Jerry under suitably purple lighting, he’s a resounding success – or not. Gore’s skill to take on so many roles whilst also over seeing the whole production is outstanding and the audience are particularly amused when he states, “I’ll just change the lights then I’ll get on with the second half of the show”. Of his various stints, one of my favourites is his role as Mr John who is painfully slow to realise the hardships of working for

George Ward, but this role is of course outdone by his time as a hilarious ‘Which?’ advertiser for Kodak.

Audience participation is central to the performance. From the signing of petitions to the use of flashlights in the powerful guitar showpiece under a multicoloured lit set (John Kirkpatrick and Daniella Beattie), the spectators feel that they’re one of the workers on the picket line with Jayaben Desai (Medhavi Patel). The use of real footage further adds to the sense of collective unity in the audience and makes the show even more realistic.

The show doesn’t end happily ever after. The poignant finish, I believe, is symbolic of how the struggle for workers’ rights and more specifically women’s rights isn’t over. This topical reference is certainly prevalent in modern day issues over the gender pay gap. Despite the continuing conflicts, “the workers united will never be defeated”.

‘We Are The Lions, Mr Manager’ ran at Harrogate Theatre from February 5th to February 10th. The show is touring across other Yorkshire locations, visit townsendproductions.org for more info.

 

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Neil talks to students at The Corn Hall, Diss.

6 Feb 2018 - 6 Mar 2018
Feedback from students on Neil Gore's pre show talk & the performance.

Thanks again for such a fantastic performance - it was the first time that a few of my students had attended the theatre and they came away enthused and inspired about theatre and social justice, which is just wonderful. Neil was brilliant with the group and was very good at explaining the social and historical context before the show, they really did learn so much. A huge thank you, Neil and Medhavi for all of your hard work and I hope the rest of your tour goes well

Some wonderful feedback from some of the parents: 

Isabella really enjoyed herself on Tuesday, and although she said she didn't understand everything, she was able to give me a summary of the strike. A great opportunity for them all.

Just to let you know Malachy and Róisín really enjoyed last night’s play. They came home very enthusiastic about going to more live theatre and all fired up ready to join a union!!! Thanks for organising it.

Bethany and Naomi did enjoy the play…. They were talking about it this morning, so it has obviously made an impact!


 

 

 

 

Jessica Vincent
Arts & Heritage Outreach Assistant
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We Are The Lions Mr Manager made the Front Page of The Morning Star with it's first review!!

18 Oct 2017

We Are The Lions Mr Manger made front page news with our first review in The Morning Star click on this link to read review http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-f0a5-Rising-like-lions-to-change-labour-history#.WeXRfxNSzL8

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Announcement -Medhavi Patel will be taking on the role of Jayaben Desai in the world premiere of 'We

5 Sep 2017

Townsend Theatre Productions are pleased to announce Medhavi Patel will be taking on the role of Jayaben Desai in the world premiere of We Are The Lions, Mr Manager.

The role of Jayaben Desai holds particular significance to Patel after she learned she is a distant relative of the iconic leader.

Medhavi Patel's previous stage work has seen her star in Tales of Birbal, Trident Moon and Fragile Land, and she has starred in TV shows including Doctors and Holby City.

Interview with Medhvai Patel by Saskia Murphy (Journalist)

How does it feel, as an actor from a Gujarati background, to be playing Jayaben Desai?

It is incredibly exciting. This is the first time I'm playing a Gujarati woman, so it is a huge moment for me and a very proud moment too. My parents moved to the UK in 1979 and my mum worked in a couple of factories when they first came here, so Jayaben's story is one that resonates with me on a personal level. I remember there wasn't much security in my mum's factory jobs. She once worked in laundrette factory and I remember her coming home and vomiting and having headaches because of the fumes and the chemicals. My mum is very proud to see me bringing this story to life.

You are a distant relative of Jayaben's, can you tell us more about that?

I didn't know Jayaben directly but my family knew her, and a member of our family married Jayaben's son. But despite the family connection I didn't actually know about the Grunwick Strike when I was growing up. I couldn't believe that nobody had told me about this powerful woman who is a part of our distant family circle.

Why do you think you were never told about Jayaben?

One thing that I have noticed, as much as I love my culture and my tradition, is that Indian families don't always pass down these amazing stories. We've have all the stories about Gandhi and about powerful men, but what about the women who played a part in modern culture? We don't explore and celebrate them enough. I guess it must have been sensitive, even for Jayaben. As strong as a character that she was, often at that time women weren't loud, they would just get on with it. We were known to just do our job and that's it. The men were the breadwinners and they were the ones that fought for the family, so to have this woman who started this strike, it must have shaken everyone. It's something to be proud of but also it was probably quite difficult for her to exist within her community at the time, because no doubt there were probably people who were telling her that it wasn't a good idea, but Jayaben was ahead of her time and was determined to achieve justice. I don't know why these stories aren't passed down but I feel that they should be, so I am honoured to be retelling Jayaben's story on stage.

How does it feel, as an actor from a Gujarati background, to be playing Jayaben Desai?

It is incredibly exciting. This is the first time I'm playing a Gujarati woman, so it is a huge moment for me and a very proud moment too. My parents moved to the UK in 1979 and my mum worked in a couple of factories when they first came here, so Jayaben's story is one that resonates with me on a personal level. I remember there wasn't much security in my mum's factory jobs. She once worked in laundrette factory and I remember her coming home and vomiting and having headaches because of the fumes and the chemicals. My mum is very proud to see me bringing this story to life.

I didn't know Jayaben directly but my family knew her, and a member of our family married Jayaben's son. But despite the family connection I didn't actually know about the Grunwick Strike when I was growing up. I couldn't believe that nobody had told me about this powerful woman who is a part of our distant family circle.

One thing that I have noticed, as much as I love my culture and my tradition, is that Indian families don't always pass down these amazing stories. We've have all the stories about Gandhi and about powerful men, but what about the women who played a part in modern culture? We don't explore and celebrate them enough. I guess it must have been sensitive, even for Jayaben. As strong as a character that she was, often at that time women weren't loud, they would just get on with it. We were known to just do our job and that's it. The men were the breadwinners and they were the ones that fought for the family, so to have this woman who started this strike, it must have shaken everyone. It's something to be proud of but also it was probably quite difficult for her to exist within her community at the time, because no doubt there were probably people who were telling her that it wasn't a good idea, but Jayaben was ahead of her time and was determined to achieve justice. I don't know why these stories aren't passed down but I feel that they should be, so I am honoured to be retelling Jayaben's story on stage.

 

Medhavi

The Volunteer

10 Jun 2017

Neil reading 'The Volunteer' by Day-Lewis and leads the singing of 'The Internationale' at the unveiling of the IBMT memorial to the Oxford and Oxfordshire volunteers and activists in the Spanish Civil War.

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May Day

1 May 2017

May Day gathering and March at the Marx Memorial Library at Clerkenwell Green London.
Neil Gore singing songs to hundreds gathered before marching to Trafalgar Square
on Monday 1 May 2017.

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Townsend Productions’ excellent play We Are The Lions Mr. Manager, which received rave reviews during its 2018 tour is to be published by Stagescripts as part of the publisher’s 11th birthday celebrations.

Written by Neil Gore, We Are The Lions Mr. Manager takes as its subject the infamous Grunwick strike of the mid-1970s and through its clever staging and characterisation is an invaluable historical document: this makes it a particularly apt choice for publication given the publisher’s objective of selecting plays “which reflect the UK population as a whole culturally, geographically, and in terms of gender and diversity of characters/roles, themes and authorship and which feel relevant today and capable of production tomorrow.

Gore’s play is part of a canon of works that he has been writing, performing and touring, with Director Louise Townsend for Townsend Productions, which celebrate Britain’s radical social history. When I spoke to Gore during the run of the show he told me why the Grunwick strike had been chosen as a subject: “It was quite a challenge,” he said “to find a strong political subject that involved a female lead, something which both I and Louise thought would be a good move after a couple of “blokey” plays – United We Stand (The Shrewsbury Three) and Dare Devil Rides to Jarama (Clem Becket and the Spanish Civil War). The inspirational Jayaben Desai fitted the bill precisely in her strength of personality and persistence in changing attitudes to immigrant workers and providing a tipping point where unions could fight back against state oppressors.”

We Are The Lions Mr. Manager is an entertaining play that depicts a tumultuous event that had a significant impact on how industrial relations developed over the following decades. It’s theatre that is worth experiencing, being an important contribution to understanding how politics defines our lives, and thus its publication by Stagescripts represents appropriate recognition of important political drama.

By Peter Yates

Read the interview with Neil Gore

…this production is an absolute winner.” – Review by Chris Omaweng

This is theatre that is worth experiencing and it’s an important contribution to understanding how politics defines our lives.” Review by Peter Yates

For further details:

http://www.stagescripts.com/

 

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