Strike production hits the right note

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WE’VE had Maggie the movie; now prepare for the miners strike musical.

Two creative Sheffield heavyweights - Russell Senior from Pulp and city DJ and promoter Ralph Razor - have this week gone into pre-production on a stage show unlike anything you’ve seen before. There’ll be pickets, politics and police officers getting punched. And it will all be soundtracked by Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran and, um, Black Lace’s Agadoo. Sounds bizarre?

MINERS STRIKE June 18th 1984'Pickets and police face to face at Orgreave

MINERS STRIKE June 18th 1984'Pickets and police face to face at Orgreave

“That was my reaction when Ralph told me about it,” says Russell, who spent time on the pickets as a young radical. “It sounded like Carry On Down The Pit, and I said I actually think it’s quite an offensive idea.

“But the more I thought about it the more sense it made. The strikes were such a dramatic time, and the human story behind them - the destruction of entire communities - is something that demands to be retold. And the music from that era was so iconic. I remember thinking ‘Damn, this idea works’.”

Certainly, it looks like it might do so. The story itself focuses on the relationship of two men - one a miner in South Yorkshire, one in Nottinghamshire - and is set within real life events including 1984’s Battle Of Orgreave.

And after spending two years perfecting the script - titled Two Tribes in homage to the Frankie Goes To Hollywood hit - the pair have this week taken office space in The Workstation, in Paternoster Row, from where they will co-ordinate casting, production and funding applications.

Russell Senior in his Gallery at Broadfield Road

Russell Senior in his Gallery at Broadfield Road

They hope to stage taster scenes at this year’s Tramlines festival before premiering the full version at a Sheffield venue - potentially The Crucible or South Street Amphitheatre - in early 2013.

After that, although neither have produced a major play before, they hope their industry contacts can help transfer it to TV.

“We’re ambitious, absolutely,” says 32-year-old Ralph, real surname Palmer, of Ecclesall Road. “This wouldn’t work small scale.

“And with The Iron Lady being released this month we wanted show there’s another side to the story.”

And the pair - who put the project on hold last year while Russell, 50, toured with reformed Pulp - insist the cheese-factor will be kept to a minimum. It’s going to be more Kes than Crazy For You.

“There’s not going to be miners breaking into song and dancing with their picks,” says Russell of Millhouses. “The music will come in where there would be music in reality - such as at a fundraising disco.”

Now, they’re looking for potential cast and crew from theatre groups across Sheffield to get involved.

“It’s an independent play,” says Ralph, who himself is from Nottinghamshire but moved to Sheffield in 1998. “And we want to involve Sheffielders as much as possible.”

For details or to get involved visit www.tt84.co.uk