A play that gets to the heart of a mining family

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On Behalf of the People

Theatre Royal Wakefield, July 5

Playwright Ray Castleton brings his work On Behalf of the People to the Walker Studio at Theatre Royal Wakefield on Thursday, July 5 - for a specially organised matinee performance at 2.30pm (the 7.45pm evening performance is sold out).

Here Ray answers a few questions about his play which was commissioned by the National Coal Mining Museum to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1947 nationalisation of the coal industry and first taken on tour last year.

Q: What is the play about?

A: I have told the story of the big political and social changes of that era through the eyes of a Yorkshire mining family. A family who our audience connect and empathise with. The son returns from the war in 1945 to his family home. His mother is delighted to have him back safe and sound, but she and her husband are grieving of the death of his older brother who has been killed in action.His girlfriend, Liz, has waited faithfully for his return. But life has changed for her too. On Behalf of The People follows their private lives until 1953.

Q: What research did you do in order to write the play

A: It took a year to write the play. It is a mixture of the stories of family members, historical academic-based research and meetings with people from the mining communities. I was given an office at the National Coal Mining Museum which was more like a nuclear fallout shelter. But it meant that I had access to all the museum staff including the ex-miners who’s help was invaluable. I mentioned to one of them that I was struggling to find miners who had lived through that era as most had now, sadly passed away. He reached into his overall pocket, took out his mobile phone, dialled a number and said, “Dad, there’s a bloke here wants to speak to you about a play he’s writing.” It transpired that his name was Roy Teasdale and he had started his working life in the pit a year after nationalisation.

Q: Why do you think it resonates with people so much?

A: It’s a play about the mining industry, politics and social change but, most of all it’s a play about a family. It’s about their loves, losses, prejudices, fears and hopes. Those are the things which move people. It’s all about making the audience empathise.

lFor tickets call 01924 211311 or buy tickets online from theatreroyalwakefield.co.uk