A dynamic new play, exploring the relationship between revolutionary theatre director, Joan Littlewood and her one-time husband and partner Jimmy Miller (aka Ewan MacColl) toured to three Lancashire village halls last weekend.
The show was created by writer, Jim Woodland and director Mike Bettison, from rural touring organisation, Blaize, whose work brings high-quality theatre, music, dance and comedy to small village venues in the north, continuing the tradition first established by Littlewood, over sixty years ago.
Dubbed ‘The Mother of Modern Theatre,’ Littlewood devoted her life to community theatre, making it her mission to ensure the art form was more accessible to the people of the north in the 1950s and ’60s.
Joan and Jimmy tells the story of her life and that of Jimmy Miller as they stood among the rubble of 1945 post-war Britain. Jimmy Miller had changed his name to Ewan MacColl and both embarked on a career in radical political theatre, performing one night stands across the North of England – an early form of rural touring. Together, they founded Theatre Workshop in Kendal back in 1946, with a travelling troupe of storytellers and outlaws committed to the overthrow of the established order where the rich got richer and the poor got austerity.
The script included original music, by writer and musician Jim Woodland, in a bid to echo the work of Jimmy Miller – famous for penning some of the folk world’s favourite songs, such as Dirty Old Town and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
Director Mike Bettison said: “We are delighted to be touring this production round village halls and venues as it pays tribute to the work pioneered all those years ago by Joan and Jimmy.
“In the Theatre Workshop tradition, Joan and Jimmy asks the audience to reach their own conclusions and take the ending of these stories and songs beyond the village hall and into their own lives.”