The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - CLF Art Theatre
Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle
TOWNSEND Productions and Unite Scotland are presenting a new two-hander production of Stephen Lowe’s version of Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists at the CLF Art Theatre in the Bussey Building, Peckham – from October 21 to October 24, 2012.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists tells the story of a group of house painters who are joined by Owen, an artist and journeyman-prophet with a vision of a just society.
Using songs of the period, movement, physicalisation and comedy, the two performers display the clarity and spirit of Tressell’s political message, highlighting Owen’s attempts to rouse his fellow workers from their complacency with spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system.
Performed for the first time as a two-hander, this ‘moving and entertaining production’ remains as vivid and as relevant as when it was written almost a century ago.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is directed by Louise Townsend and performed by Fine Time Fontayne and Neil Gore.
Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists has universally been accepted as being a classic of working-class literature since its first publication in 1914, and remains one of the most popular books of all time.
Now with a Tory-led coalition government motivated to deal with debt at whatever cost, and last year being the centenary anniversary of Robert Tressell’s death, the themes and style of the book are eternally relevant and provoking, putting life and politics into sharp focus.
Stephen Lowe’s version of the story was first seen in 1978, when Joint Stock Theatre Co. toured the country playing to packed houses. The play was revived at the Half Moon Theatre, London in 1983, for Metro Theatre Co, Sheffield in 1987 and for the Birmingham Rep in 1991.
Lowe’s plays have been performed at the Royal Court and RSC and have been staged by Alan Ayckbourn, Richard Eyre, Steven Daldry, Danny Boyle, Jonathan Church, Annie Castledine, and Thaddeus O’Sullivan. His television work includes BBC 2’s Scarlet and Black ( starring Ewan McGregor and Rachel Weisz), the four-part BBC2 psycho-thriller Tell-Tale Hearts ( starring Bill Patterson), and over 100 episodes of Coronation Street.