By Ben Harker
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Additional resources for Class Act: The Cultural and Political Life of Ewan MacColl
The worse things got, the more insular the Millers seemed to become. ’71 ñó Harker 01 prol 45 10/7/07 16:56:06 46 CLASS ACT Theatre of Action was now bringing the talented young couple out of the Grosvenor Street rehearsal room into new circles. 73 This rapprochement with theatre professionals, other amateur groups and sympathetic journalists brought new members into Theatre of Action, and the next production increased applications still further. 74 In February 1935 it was published in New Theatre magazine, and British groups were eager to stage the show.
74 The sketch filled in the background before acting out the communist solution to the crisis. The six speakers assembled behind four broom handles criss-crossed to represent prison bars. 76 They gave the debut at a public meeting for the League Against Imperialism on Monday 23 November 1931, held at Caxton Hall, Chapel Street, Salford. 77 The troupe continued to gather experience at similar events, some of them in sizeable venues. In January 1932 they performed at the Memorial Hall, Albert Square, central Manchester, in a concert for the Manchester and Salford Workers’ Film Society, with three sketches.
The Fire Sermon by American communist poet Sol Funaroff was a Marxist rewrite of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land: political transformation, not spiritual reawakening, was Funaroff’s solution to the contemporary malaise. 49 The show’s centrepiece, Newsboy, was based on a poem written by another prominent American communist, V. J. 50 It proved exactly what Theatre of Action was after. 51 Like Meerut, it set out a political problem (newsboy as capitalist lackey) and then enacted the solution (newsboy’s transformation into class-conscious worker); in this sense, it was squarely in keeping with agitprop conventions.
Class Act: The Cultural and Political Life of Ewan MacColl by Ben Harker