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Image Coastal Productions

Image Coastal Productions

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists  comes to life

A local group focussing on community-led regeneration have enlisted help from Liverpool to bring a stage version of one time local resident Robert Tressell’s book, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, to life in one of Hastings newest performance spaces, The Opus Theatre in Cambridge Road. Community Organiser at Heart of Hastings CLT, Sam Kinch writes.

The Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust, in partnership with Liverpool based stage troupe, Costal Productions, are to stage two performances of an adaptation of the book which celebrated it’s 100th anniversary 3 years ago. The original book was written whilst the writer, real name Robert Noonan, was a resident of Hastings and features a wide number of recognisable local pubs and streets. Although the town referred to in the book takes the name Mugsborough, it features a number of local landmarks and is widely understood to be loosely based on Noonan’s own personal experiences in Hastings when he lived here between 1901 and 1911.

The story revolves around the life of a painter and decorator, Frank Owen, who works in vain to try and convince his fellow workers of the iniquities of the capitalist system and to open their eyes to Socialism as an alternative. The book has met with widespread acclaim over the years since it was first published in 1918, seven years after Tressell died, and has come to be celebrated as a classic of working class literature. The explicitly political work also covers the skullduggery of old-school politicians, an unfair monetary system, workers’ exploitation, and the threat of foreign competition; this was the real struggle of the people of Hastings in the early 1900’s as Tressell saw it – and some might say not much has changed.

The Opus Theatre

The Opus Theatre

The Opus Theatre is located inside His Place Community Church and is Hastings newest performance space with seating for 700. Polo Piatti, the theatre’s director, told The Stage magazine: “As soon as I saw the place, with its glorious but hidden beauty, and discovered its fantastic acoustics, I realised the venue’s enormous potential. I approached the building’s owners who, more or less spontaneously, believed in my vision and decided to accept my offer to create a new, autonomous and independent venue there.”

All proceeds from both performances are going to Heart Of Hastings which is striving to change things in the most deprived areas of Hastings and your money will go directly into funding Tressell based activities and events here.

There will be a 30 minute welcome at the start of each performance where you can get a drink, listen to music, view the slide-show of local photos relevant to Tressell’s work, and there will be merchandise available to buy.

For tickets click here.

“The most formative political book of my life was The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, given to me by my late mother.”
― Jeremy Corbyn

“Every man who is not helping to bring about a better state of affairs for the future is helping to perpetuate the present misery, and is therefore the enemy of his own children. There is no such thing as being neutral: we must either help or hinder.”
― Robert Tressell

What: Stage performance of Robert Tressell’s “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists”
Where: Opus Theatre, 24 Cambridge Rd, Hastings TN34
When: August 26 2017 : 1:30pm and 7pm


Posted 15:51 Sunday, Aug 20, 2017 In: Performance

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