Stories at the heart of miners’ strike

Striking Dilemmas
Striking Dilemmas
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Set against the backdrop of the miners’ strike, Striking Dilemmas is a new play which combines three compelling and moving human stories.

The stories are SCAB!, The Blue Pawn and Bands, Banners & Bitter Pills.

They contrast the real-life stories of the men who stayed out and those who worked; a police officer from a South Yorkshire mining community who served at the infamous Battle of Orgreave and two women who now volunteer in a Barnsley food bank but 30 years ago were part of the Women Against Pit Closures movement.

Written by Sheffield-based actor and writer Ray Castleton, Striking Dilemmas grew out of an original year-long commission by Experience Barnsley Museum to mark, in theatrical terms, the 30 years since the miners’ strike.

Ray said: “When I originally developed the three pieces with Experience Barnsley, I wanted to tell the stories of those not at the top of the struggle – politicians and trade union leaders – but the miners, police officers and wives. I particularly wanted to highlight how the strike and its aftermath affected these people and their families on a more human level.

“I also wanted to explore what choices these people made and how it changed their lives not just during the strike but afterwards, and how it still affects them today.

“The source material for the play has been drawn from a number of first-hand, true accounts, which led to the development of the seven characters portrayed.”

He added: “All three pieces have been performed individually at Experience Barnsley and at other venues, with great audience reaction, but as The Melting Shop theatre company we knew we wanted to develop the stories further into one unified play.”

The Melting Shop was formed in the last 12 months by Ray and fellow professional actor David Chafer, who is also Sheffield-based.

The cast includes Chrissy Barker, Ray, David and Julie Higginson, all South Yorkshire-based actors.

The play is particularly poignant for Chrissy, who hails from a mining family in Barnsley, and for Julie who comes originally from a Nottinghamshire mining village.

The Striking Dilemmas tour takes in 15 dates beginning on Sunday 11 October at the Rose Theatre, Chesterfield.

Other local dates are Elsecar Heritage Centre October 15, Walkley Community Centre, Sheffield on Friday 16, Stocksbridge Venue on Saturday 17, Union Jack Memorial Club, Goldthorpe, October 22, Sharrow Community Forum, October 23, Theatre Delicatessen, The Moor, Sheffield, October 29, CAST, Doncaster, November 6, Firbeck Village Hall, November 7, Rotherham ROAR, November 13, George Hotel, Tideswell, November 14.