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Souvenir programme – Merseyside Trades Council presents “One Hundred Years Hard.” At the Unity Theatre

The souvenir is a fascinating item in so many ways-as a reflection on George’s commitment and talents, as a snapshot of the history of the left in Liverpool, as an indication of the issues facing the working class over the lifetime of the Liverpool Trades Council and as an indicator of the productions held by the Unity Theatre.

The programme is eight pages long with an introduction to the Trades Council, a brief history of the Unity Theatre and its links with the Labour movement, photographs of major events in Liverpool from 1906 to 1922, portraits of five notable socialist figures from Liverpool and the programme for the evening itself. The show was performed on the 1st and 2nd October in the David Lewis Theatre with tickets costing 2/6 and 1/6. (25p and 15p!)

It is interesting that George’s name is not mentioned in the programme although he co-wrote the main production and quite probably chose the opening part of the evening, a performance of George Bernard Shaw’s “Village Wooing: a Comedietttina for two voices.” While this does not sound an obvious choice for the evening, I think that the fact is set on an Ocean Liner and, according to one review, has a core message of “Love is just a crazy old thing, and don't forget, it's also important to have a social conscience” *seems to indicate George had at least a hand in its inclusion!

“A Hundred Years Hard” itself has 28 scenes, with a range of characters and locations. The early scenes are set at the turn of the century and include a scene with Dr Duncan, Liverpool’s first Medical Officer of Health before moving back and forth between the Boer war, the TUC, on board ship and the Literary and Philosophical Society. These first 10 scenes already show the breadth and scope of the play and the struggles which George and others like him were involved in. By the final scene we have traversed the Hunger march, St Georges Plateau, Birkenhead Means Test and the war against Fascism.

The play was well received and toured throughout Liverpool and the region- and in one performance Bessie Braddock MP played her own Mother.
The combination of the scenes, the photographs and the potted histories make this a very interesting piece of the collection, and a reminder of what George stood for, what he could contribute and his life and times.
Will Reid
*Hope Earl, review of a production at Wadham College Oxford 30/7/02
Last modified onThursday, 04 December 2014 17:11
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