For the last couple of months, it’s been a privilege to be part of the brand new folk opera from Townsend Productions, “Rouse Ye Women” (music by John Kirkpatrick, script by Neil Gore). We’ve been traveling up and down the country and we’re halfway through the tour now. It’s been getting a great response!
Morning Star Online:
I love these old photographs of the women chain makers of Cradley Heath in the 1900’s… they really give a sense of what life was like for them…
My character is called, “Bird” and she is one such chain maker. For her, life is hard, pay is poor and working conditions, squalid and unsafe. She is at the mercy of the exploitative “fogger”Albert, who sub contracts her to make chain for a larger company, taking a percentage of the money paid for the chain. The women often earned less than half the wage of the men making chain in factories.Women like Bird, who would probably have learned to make chain from her Mother as a child, wouldn’t have had any notion of choice or rights. Only that they must do this work or starve. The chain makers strike of 1910 was a landmark victory in the fight for fair pay for women and a national minimum wage. It’s astonishing to me that this sort of thing is not part of our history curriculum in schools. Women like Mary MacArthur and the chain makers are all but forgotten, but this story still has so much relevance today… society still has many of the same issues concerning equality and fair pay, just in a different guise. Come and be roused! See us on tour until April 19th, see here for dates: