Touring play mines a rich seam at Derby Theatre


The story of a post-war mining family coming to terms with their rapidly changing world, On Behalf Of The People embarks on its first major tour, playing 28 venues across Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester.

It can be seen at Derby Theatre on May 27.

On Behalf Of The People is the second full-scale production by Yorkshire theatre company The Melting Shop, co-founded by playwright and performer Ray Castleton, and producer and actor David Chafer.

Written by Ray Castleton, this powerful play reveals the struggle that affected millions from mining communities in the face of enormous political and social change, in a family drama filled with warmth, humour and realism.

Set in a Yorkshire mining town, it follows George Mason, his wife Connie, their son - returning solider Tom - and Tom’s fiancée Liz; from the immediate aftermath of the war to Coronation year, 1953.

Tom Mason returns from the war to the arms of his grateful mother and fiancée – and to the bosom of the pit. George fights his own battles and an election. Connie mourns, loves and unites as Liz sees a new world brim-full of opportunity. In a new Britain, will their hopes and dreams be reconciled?

Playwright Ray Castleton said: “On Behalf of the People is based on extensive research about the people who lived in mining communities just after the war and how the aftermath of the war and the massive change – the election of the post war Labour government, nationalisation, the new health service and the development of social housing – impacted on their lives.

“I was keen to write a story about real people and how their lives and relationships changed; the audience reaction we received last year confirms that this story touches people with its authenticity and honesty.”

The Melting Shop’s powerful new play was originally commissioned by the National Coal Mining Museum as part of its programme of activities marking 70 years since the nationalisation of the UK coal mining industry.

Last year it premiered to great acclaim at the National Coal Mining Museum and a short and highly successful run of community venues across Yorkshire and Derbyshire followed. The production now embarks on its first major tour, making 34 performances across 28 venues spanning regional theatres, community venues and ex-mining villages across Yorkshire, Derby and Derbyshire, and playing at the Buxton Festival Fringe and Greater Manchester Fringe.

The cast is Sheffield-based actors Ray Ashcroft (George Mason) best known for his long-running TV role in The Bill. Kate Wood (Connie) a well-known theatre performer with credits including a national tour of The Full Monty and and Brassed Off at Derby Theatre. Tom is played by Rotherham actor Danny Mellor whose work includes Undermined, his one-man play about the miner’s strike, and Blister in association with Paines Plough. Doncaster’s Lizzie Frain plays Liz, her credits include Mike Leigh’s forthcoming film Peterloo.

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