We Are The Lions, Mr Manager
Richard Trinder, Editor
Harrogate's Studio Theatre is an intimate 70 seater venue on the top floor above the auditorium of the main theatre. It gives an opportunity to show new writing, niche writing and smaller pieces not really suited to the larger performance areas.
My particular favourites are the ones I would broadly describe as 'social histories'; plays that are both entertaining and informative; works that leave you feeling enlightened.
One such work is the current offering at Harrogate Studio Theatre: We Are The Lions, Mr. Manager!.
It is the remarkable story of Jayaben Desai, the inspirational leader of the long, bitter and somewhat revolutionary strike in 1976-78 at the Grunwick Film Processing Factory in London.
|Also by Richard Trinder...|
|Phoenix Dance, Male Machismo And Ancient Greece|
|They Don't Pay. We Won't Pay|
|Carbon Monoxide Is Deadly - Be Warned|
|The Private Lives Of Harrogate Rep|
|Tosca In Leeds|
Starting with a group of South Asian women, led by Jayaben Desai, they took to the streets protesting at poor working conditions. And the sadly inevitable racial disharmony, played-down by Jayaben, was undoubtedly part of the mix.
Eventually more than 20,000 people joined in the protest.
The title of the piece is taken from a stunning put-down from Desai, when addressing her bigoted manager:
'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!'
This piece ticked many boxes for me; it is committed theatre in an intimate space, it has real impact, and best of all it recreates an important time in our recent history, a seminal moment when many aspects of our society changed for the better. Not least of which was the Trades Unions starting to address racial inequalities as well as women's rights.
There is a strong educational aspect to the piece - typical of the work of Townsend Productions, who seem to be carving a niche for themselves - but it is entertaining too.
I thoroughly recommend this play. Book as soon as possible as it will be away on an enormous tour around the country after the end of this week.
We Are The Lions, Mr Manager, 6th February 2018, 12:47 PM