Almost thirty years after the 1980 Steel Strike on Teesside, Alan Spence’s play about the effects of the strike on a family, a community and an industry, has finally has finally received its world premiere at the Saltburn Community Theatre on the 18th November.
The play had a rehearsed reading at the Live Theatre, Newcastle in conjunction with Cleveland Theatre Company in 1990 and has under-gone a number of re-drafts, before new scenes being added earlier this year. The new scenes have enabled the narrative to return to the Wilkinson in 2003 and discover what has happened to the family since the early 80’s.
The global recession and the continued problems at Redcar, has only added a poignancy to the story, a story that has largely been forgotten by the general public, locally and nationally. Being over-shadowed by the Miners Strike 25th anniversary and Thatchers’ 30th anniversary.
What is quite unique is that wherever we have met people across Teesside, they have either been employed at British Steel, in one of the many other steel companies or a member of their family has.
What: Nowt like this in America Where: Saltburn Community Theatre When: Until Saturday.
21 Nov 2009 Evening Gazette By CHRIS HOLE
New play is a first at theatre.
IT’S not often that Saltburn plays host to a world premiere. But this week, the curtain went up on Teesside playwright Alan Spence’s first offering Nowt like this in America. The story depicts one Teesside family’s struggles through the 1980 steel strikes. The Wilkinson family are seen enjoying life to the full but we then witness their struggles as the strikes begin and their lives and futures are thrown into turmoil.
The story follows the family to the modern day showing how the strikes have shaped each of their lives and the effects it has had on their relationships – with friends and with each other.
The small cast consists of a number of strong, convincing performers who draw you in and create a level of empathy. The moving storyline is set against a background of newspaper headlines and stories which add to the atmosphere and help describe the changing face of the industry over time and the bigger picture created by the steel strikes.
Middlesbrough-born writer Alan Spence manages to inject a real Teesside spirit into the story with local references, settings, and at times a touch of humour.
In his programme notes he admits the play was years in the making, but this has allowed him to bring the story right up to date and tell a tale of struggle and solidarity which is just as relevant right now as it was when he originally sat down to write his story.
Verdict: Well worth a look.