WE ARE THE LIONS MR MANAGER
‘We Are The Lions, Mr. Manager!’ is the story of the Grunwick Film Processing Factory Strike of 1976-78 and the inspirational strike-leader Jayaben Desai, one of many newly arrived British passport-holding Asian Gujurati workers expelled from Uganda and Tanzania in East Africa four years before.
In 1976 a group of workers in a backstreet London factory, in Willesden, stood up to their bosses and kick-started one of the longest and most important industrial disputes in British history. Led by Asian women, the Grunwick strike challenged stereotypes, changed the face of traditionally white, male trade unions, and inspired others to speak out against injustice.
Grunwick wasn’t just a strike about wages and conditions – it was about something much more important than that: it was about dignity. Dignity at work. These women had been employed by the Grunwick factory bosses in the belief that they would be easy to handle, to browbeat and to exploit. Yet, they found their own distinctive voice in the course of the struggle to secure their rights.
The strike leader, Jayaben Desai had the measure of the most brutish and charmless of her managers, when she told them: ‘What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager!’
Grunwick made history:
1. it focused the issue of the exploitation of immigrant workers
2. it nailed the myth that Asian workers were passive
3. it showed how a section of totally unorganised workers, ignorant of trade unionism and insecure in a foreign land can develop militancy and attract huge solidarity
4. it defined the trade union and political lives of tens of thousands from across the nation who came to the streets of Willesden to back the Grunwick workers.
5. it showed too that all the forces of the state, the media, the police, the courts, employers, racial prejudice and women’s inequality can be swept aside by the freshness and dynamism of determined struggle.
This is social history presented in Townsend Productions’ imaginative, particpatory, engaging style with songs and music of the 1970s.
Grunwick still poses questions to today’s generation about the role in society of women, workers and immigrants. And the strike still carries a challenging message about the need for human dignity.
The Partners for this project so far :
The Place Bedford - rehearsal space and time, casting and marketing
Tara Arts – in S.W. London; founded in 1977 to creatively reflect the infinite variety of modern Britain, they currently lead the consortium of Black Theatre Live – they will assist in casting and marketing
Harrogate Theatre – set building and marketing
Luton Hat Factory – casting and marketing
Ruskin College, Oxford – production development, education and marketing
GMB – marketing, publicity, education and contact with school/college programmes
Unite the Union – fund-raising, marketing and education
Other unions – some financial/marketing assistance
- Oct 14 - 7.30pm - Preview: The Place Bedford BOX OFFICE: 01234 354321 / WEBSITE
- Oct 18 - 7.30pm - Chilwell Arts Centre Beeston BOX OFFICE: 07921800573 / WEBSITE TICKETS
- Oct 19 - 7.30 pm - Seven Art Space Leeds BOX OFFICE: 0113 26 26 777 / WEBSITE
- Oct 20 - 7.30pm - The Working Class Movement Library Salford BOX OFFICE: 07949635910 / WEBSITE TICKETS
- Oct 21 - 7.30pm - The Working Class Movement Library Salford BOX OFFICE: 07949635910 / WEBSITE TICKETS
- Oct 25 - 7.30pm - Blantyre Miners Welfare Blantyre, South Lanarkshire BOX OFFICE: 01698 454690 / WEBSITE TICKETS
- Oct 27 - 7.00 pm - North Edinburgh Arts Edinburgh BOX OFFICE: 0131315 2151 / WEBSITE
- Oct 29 - 7.30pm - Eastwood Park Theatre Giffnock BOX OFFICE: 0141 577 4956 / WEBSITE
- Oct 31 - 8.00pm - Theatre Severn Shrewsbury BOX OFFICE: 01743 281281 / WEBSITE TICKETS
- Nov 1 - 7.30pm - Guildhall Theatre Derby BOX OFFICE: 01332 2585800 / WEBSITE
- Nov 2 - 7.00pm - Oldham Library Theatre Oldham TICKETS
- Nov 4 - 5.00pm - Liberating Arts Festival Exeter TICKETS
- Nov 7 - 7.30pm - Wedgewood Rooms Southsea BOX OFFICE: 023 9286 3911 / WEBSITE
- Nov 9 - 7.30pm - Ruskin College Oxford BOX OFFICE: 07949635910 / WEBSITE TICKETS
- Nov 10 - 7.30pm - The Seagull Theatre Lowerstoft BOX OFFICE: 01502 589726 / WEBSITE
- Nov 11 - 7.30pm - Marx Memorial Library, London London BOX OFFICE: 07949635910 / WEBSITE TICKETS
- Nov 12 - 7.30pm - Swanland Village Hall Swanland, Humbs BOX OFFICE: 01482 634863/ firstname.lastname@example.org / WEBSITE
- Nov 15 - 8 pm - Epsom Playhouse Epsom BOX OFFICE: 01372 742555 / 742227 / WEBSITE
- Nov 16 - 8pm - The Lighthouse Poole BOX OFFICE: 01202 280000 / WEBSITE
- Nov 17 - 7.30pm - The Irish Centre Liverpool BOX OFFICE: 0151 263 1808 / WEBSITE
- Nov 21 - 7.30pm - Tara Theatre Earlsfield, London BOX OFFICE: +44 (0)20 8333 4457 / WEBSITE
- Nov 22 - 7.30pm - Tara Theatre Earlsfield, London BOX OFFICE: +44 (0)20 8333 4457 / WEBSITE
- Nov 23 - 7.30pm - Tara Theatre Earlsfield, London BOX OFFICE: +44 (0)20 8333 4457 / WEBSITE
- Nov 24 - 2.00pm / 7.30pm - Tara Theatre Earlsfield, London BOX OFFICE: +44 (0)20 8333 4457 / WEBSITE
- Nov 25 - 7.30pm - Tara Theatre Earlsfield, London BOX OFFICE: +44 (0)20 8333 4457 / WEBSITE
- Nov 29 - 7.30pm - The Witham Barnard Castle BOX OFFICE: 01833 631107 / WEBSITE TICKETS
- Nov 30 - 7.30pm - Barton Assembly Rooms Lincolnshire BOX OFFICE: 01652 637568 / WEBSITE TICKETS
- Dec 1 - 7.30pm - Stanhope Village Hall County Durham BOX OFFICE: 01388 528673 / WEBSITE TICKETS