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ENGELS SPARKS AT THE SALFORD ARTS THEATRE
 

Star date: 7th July 2012

ENGELS TIRADE AT THE DIRTY OLD TOWN

`Heard the sirens from the cops/ Saw a gang set the town on fire
Smelt the bullshit on a Salford wind/ Burning old town, Burning old town…'

Last night Fred Engels came back to Salford, courtesy of the Ragged Collective – local people who creatively fired the revolutionary's words back to life for 2012, via Cameron, Salford Quays, councils, developers, bankers, bosses and a brilliant torrent of abuse at all those who have brought yesterday's poverty back to today…

Read the Salford Star review here…those who are offended by post industrial language might wish to look away


Engels Condition of the Working Class at Salford Arts Theatre Engels Condition of the Working Class at Salford Arts Theatre Engels Condition of the Working Class at Salford Arts Theatre
Engels Condition of the Working Class at Salford Arts Theatre Engels Condition of the Working Class at Salford Arts Theatre Engels Condition of the Working Class at Salford Arts Theatre
click image to enlarge

Review: The Condition of the Working Class by Ragged Collective

So onto the stage comes the local politician telling everyone to pull together in times of austerity and how the city will be `regenerated' for the good of the `community'

`You mean, you're gonna kick us out!' comes the response… `Now fuck off! Go on, fuck off!'…

She gets ushered off stage and another bloke comes on stage shouting `It's bollocks! It's all bollocks!'

Pointing to Engels' book The Condition of the Working Class, published in 1844, he adds `It's all in here. They duped us then and they're duping us now'

He reads a quick Engels extract about the working class getting ejected from its community to make way for the moneyed classes… `They move us away from their eyes'…And the scene ends with him looking to the heavens… `Sustainable development?…What the fuck is that? WHAT THE FUCK???…'

Breaths of fresh air don't come any sweeter. It's really liberating to see Salford writ large on stage, with actors pounding out sentiments that you just don't see anymore, except in Facebook groups.

Even more poignant was this scene being performed in the Salford Arts Theatre, right across the road from a whole bank of tinned up houses, with a community currently being cleared for the bankers' wet dream Pendleton PFI scheme. Over 150 years of bourgeois battering and it's still going on…

…And performed almost around the corner from The Lowry and MediaCityUK, projected here on screen while a posh woman comes on stage giving more truth behind the bullshit… `Look but don't touch…this place is better than your dirty old town…You may have built it. But it's my Salford Quays'  

Less than a mile from Fred Engels' original mill in Weaste, which now (don't tell us they didn't do it on purpose) has the M602 running right through the middle of it, Engels' revenge is being spitted. No more so than when two girls get up and nearly take the roof off with a rappy tirade of abuse against every bastard who has ensured that conditions for the working class, as described in 1844, haven't changed much at all… `Thatcher? I'd twat her, if I could catch her…'

The sentiments throughout are a gut reaction from a local group of incredible non-actors who have come together to re-interpret The Condition of the Working Class in words, sketches and song – many giving their own personal experiences of workplace bullying, sexism, racism, class snobbery and the odds stacked against ordinary people fulfilling their potential. 

En route we have top hatted, champagne swigging posh pricks singing `Stand and Deliver…or we'll fire you at will' with a dancing chorus of Camerons; police with pig noses attacking strikers, and the Bourgeois Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) giving its totally biased version of Chartist events at Kersal Moor.

It all harks back to the infamous Agitprop theatre movement which exploded on the back of lorries in estates and in factories from the 1930s to the early 1980s by the likes of 7:84, North West Spanner and the Theatre of Action, founded by Salford's Ewan MacColl

And the fitting finale was a re-working of MacColl's anthem Dirty Old Town. Both Ewan MacColl and Fred Engels would be proud that their fire hasn't gone out in Salford…

Singalong to the new Dirty Old Town with words by Ray Eckersley of the Ragged Collective…

We saw the end written on the wall 
Dreamed a dream of a decent job
Kissed the arse of the ruling class
Empty old town
Empty old town

Crowds a shouting n smashing glass
Cops a prowling on their beat
You'd better watch yerself on our streets tonight
Scary old town
Scary old town

Heard the sirens from the cops
Saw a gang set the town on fire
Smelt the bullshit on a Salford wind
Burning old town
Burning old town

We saw the end written on the wall
Dreamed a dream of a decent job
Kissed the arse of the factory boss
Burn it all down
Burn it all down

We're gonna make a good place to be
Shining new tempered in the fight
Voice of Engels calls through history
Dirty old town
Dirty old town
It's a brand new town
It's a brand new town


The Condition of the Working Class by Ragged Collective with Inside Film and Not Too Tame.

The production can be seen tonight and tomorrow 7th and 8th of July at Nexus Café in Manchester – click here for details.

The Condition of the Working Class is to be made into a film while there are hopes that the live show can be toured in the near future. This production deserves to be toured and anyone interested in helping can e-mail insidefilm@btinternet.com

To read all about Fred Engels and his time in Salford see the Salford Star special - click here and follow the links

Review by Stephen Kingston

 


 

em3 wrote
at 10:30:28 on 08 July 2012
Saw this at Nexus in Manchester last night! Brilliant. Yes, the best update of the Salford anthem yet. Its on tonight too (sun). Well done to the writers and actors + well done Fred Engels, you said it all mate!
 
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