Sunday, 8 March 2015

Red Ladder's musical evening - with Boff Whalley

Red Ladder Theatre Company              Photo: Richard Wilcocks

Laurah Furner writes:
The New Headingley Club played host to a fantastic evening of music performance by Red Ladder Theatre Company last night.  Victoria Brazier, Claire Marie Seddon and Stacey Sampson, with musical direction by Becky Owen, created a vibrant and comfortable atmosphere for the audience, in an intimate and emotionally charged performance of their production, ‘We’re Not Going Back’. The night was packed with flawless harmonies, combined at frequent intervals with brilliant anecdotes on the creative process by the writer of the show, Boff Whalley

No costumes were required for this group to create a stunning performance that celebrates the journeys to self-empowerment produced through the 1984/5 miner’s strike with which the play was concerned. Whalley discussed in depth the authenticity which the production aims to exude, and it was certainly this aspect which seemed to touch the hearts of audience members. Highlights included the song ‘This Was War’, and the funeral scene, which achieved an emotional intimacy that had the woman sitting next to me in tears. Whalley observed that ‘It’s not the play, it’s the conversation afterwards that matter’, and it’s this hope to truthfully depict the social upheaval caused by the miner’s strike whilst engaging with the strength of community that left me feeling both humbled and uplifted as I left.

Headingley LitFest is very grateful for the support from Leeds University student volunteers Laura Cummins, Laurah Furner and Serene Leong.

Audience Feedback:

Good to see the spirit of radical theatre is still alive.  Thanks. Great show, lovely actors.     (Tom Burden)

Wonderfully creative and authentic way of bringing real people’s experiences and emotions alive.  Lovely harmony and a nice punchy folk song at the end.     Anon

Marvellous emotive music without being depressing.     Anon

It was very informative and enjoyable.     Anon

Very enjoyable.  Fantastic harmonies and an obvioius passion for the subject.  (Adam Savage)

Wonderfully nuanced way to hear a  story we think we know already.   (Laura Cummins)

Really enjoyed the songs and explanation of the play, having sadly not seen it.  I was born during the Miners’ Strike and have a scar on my neck where a piece of coal spat out of the fire and attached itself to me as I sat in my baby bouncer in our house in Huddersfield (Shepley).  Very moving and enthusiastic cast, hope your funding continues.  (Erica Mitchell)

I’ve waited thirty one years for some humour on the Miners’ Strike.  It’s about time  (DS)

Very good, nice songs and harmonies.  (Angela M)

Yet again Red Ladder produce an authentic beautifully produced interpretation well researched.  Lovely harmonies.   (Richard Howson)

I enjoyed the ‘introduction’ to the play and its songs, interesting to hear how it came together.  Would now love to see the whole thing - which I hope will be round soon!   (Paul Connor)

Wonderfully structured, highly accessible performance, emotionally charged atmosphere of positivity and realism, committed to a truthful depiction of the 1984/5 miners’ strike.   (Laurah Furner)

A very moving and insightful performance.  Touching, funny and informative.  Made me want to see the whole play!  It brought out the human cast and the sometimes unexpected transformations of individuals.  Red Ladder know how to put across an historical political and human condition very effectively.  The company should be supported.  (Marion Purchon)

Warm, witty and thought-provoking.  An education for this southerner.   (Helen Ashman)

A real eye opener and very interesting to learn some local history as a student not from the area.  Thank you!   (Stella Spriggs)

Very good introduction and show by the Red Ladder Theatre company, particularly the songs.  I visited the National Mining Museum near Wakefield a few weeks ago which was very interesting. Nice form by the group afterwards as well.   (Jonathan Fetson)

It was a privilege to see Red Ladder describe the process of their drama and to see them perform and explain the play and the politics.  Brilliant!  (Maggie Burden)

Enjoyed the songs but could do without the rambling commentary.   (Martin)

Extremely engaging.  Moving too.  (Duncan)

1 comment:

  1. The title 'We're Not Going Back' refers not to the male miners - who were eventually defeated and had to return to work - but to their wives, for whom the empowerment they gained meant they were never going back to how they were. Nostalgic evening; it still seems so relevant today, and Red Ladder made that point well.