Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Robert Tressell Festival

On Saturday evening I went to Concordia Hall, which is in Church Road high up the hill above Warrior Square station, to see a play based on The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. I'm not sure who owns the Concordia Hall, but it is quite large and has a garden alongside. Tables on either side of the seating offered mainly socialist tracts.

I vaguely remember reading the novel many years ago, but evidently didn't appreciate the humour then, unless that was emphasised in this production. There were obvious updates to reflect the current news stories about corruption over expenses. Being near the back of the hall, and the actors not being raised up much, I couldn't see much of the action, but since the characters they were playing were distinguished mainly by the headgear they wore, this was not such a problem.

The story is about a group of workmen employed to decorate the home of a wealthy councillor, and is based on Robert Tressell's experiences in Hastings, which becomes "Mugsborough", in the early 20th century. The local paper is referred to as "The Obscurer", which in view of my own difficulties in obtaining coverage for the Hastings Humanists, seems very appropriate (and reminded me of the Leicester Mercury being known as "The Mockery"; perhaps every town has a disparaging name for its local paper). The performance ended with a rendition of the socialist anthem, "The Red Flag".

There were other events earlier in the day, and more on the Sunday, but I was unable to find the time for these, though a lecture from a member of the William Morris society looked interesting.

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