Socialist Party
| Print

18 October 2017

Theatre: We're Still Here

Powerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

Geoff Jones, Swansea Socialist Party

The future of Port Talbot steelworks, the last big steel-making plant in Wales, is hanging by a hair.

A year ago owners Tata Steel threatened to close the plant, destroy the only large employer in Port Talbot and throw 6,000 out of work. Their main complaint was the size of the retired workers' pension fund.

Under the threat of closure, the steel workers - but not the pensioners - were forced to vote for one of two options, either of which meant a cut in pensions. 'We're Still Here' dramatises the effect of this threat on the workers.

It is like no other play. For a start, there is no theatre with comfortable seats facing a stage. The action takes place in a huge, aircraft-hangar-sized shed, part of the old steelworks, lit only by spotlights.

The audience is ushered in, and stands around or moves while the action takes place around and among them. Some parts are played by professionals, and others by actual steelworkers themselves.

Most of the action consists of monologues.

An old ex-worker describes the first few days of unemployment - first the feeling of freedom to stay in bed in the morning, soon the gaping hole in his life. A group of workers pushing a machine through the crowd talks about the comradeship of working together.

A young ex-worker talks about trips to the jobcentre and being told to look for 'opportunities' in retail. A sort of Greek chorus speaks of the grass where the huge Ebbw Vale works once stood, and runs through the battles of Welsh workers, from the 1831 Merthyr rising to the 1984-85 miners' strike.

Finally, the audience is invited to sit around in a circular discussion mimicking a trade union branch meeting.

One worker finds it too much for him and dashes out. Another berates the union for not taking a harder line. A union official describes how hard he had fought management, even with trips to speak to the owners in Mumbai, wrecking his marriage.

The performance ends with a feeling of 'well, what's to be done?' "We're still here" - the anthem of Welsh nationalism - sounds more like a cry for help than one of defiance.

The whole experience gave a powerful picture of the feelings of steel workers. It obviously hit home with the audience, a mixture of local people - including present and former steel workers - and regular theatregoers.

Sadly there was no talk of the wider picture of the economy - or of the only permanent solution: the nationalisation of steelmaking, and the heights of the wider economy, under democratic workers' management and control.




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26324




Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

triangle7 Nov Call to Derby Labour members: Don't stand against Chris Williamson

triangle6 Nov Pay, jobs, pensions... Vote for a fighting general secretary

triangle6 Nov 'This is going to be the biggest battle we've seen in Britain for a...

triangle6 Nov 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall: How a mass revolutionary...

triangle6 Nov UCU votes for pay and pension strikes

triangle6 Nov Tories out! Corbyn in with anti-austerity and socialist policies

triangle6 Nov Elections, strikes and revolutions: Socialism '19 - daring to fight

More ...

WHAT'S ON

triangle13 Nov Hackney Socialist Party: Rebellion around the world - is it coming to Britain?

triangle14 Nov Lambeth & SW London Socialist Party: Rebellion around the world - Is it coming to Britain?

triangle14 Nov East London Socialist Party: The state - a warning to Corbynism

triangle14 Nov Bradford Socialist Party: #ActionNotWords - the struggle for a fighting PCS union

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

What we Stand For

About the Socialist Party

Joining the Socialist Party - what will it mean for you

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999