FOR THE LOVE OF A CHARTIST
STROUD THEATRE FESTIVAL
Chartism was a working class movement of the 1830s and 40s that wanted to establish democracy in the country, at a time when only the aristocracy and middle class men had the vote.
It was based upon 6 points: the secret ballot so there could be no intimidation; payment of MPs so that working people could stand; same-size constituencies to prevent the old rural aristocracy lording it over the new industrial towns; ending the ownership of property rule to become an MP, so that working people could stand; votes for all men over 21 (there were Chartist groups in favour of votes for women even back then, however); annual parliaments so that governments would keep their promises.
All but one of these is now the law, of course, but you could easily end up in prison in Chartist times for supporting these ideas … lose your freedom, your job and home for wanting a democratic government…
It’s time to remember these freedom-fighters, and rescue them from what EP Thompson called, ‘the enormous condescension of posterity’.
And so this show – our counter-heritage rescuing of two special working people from the enormous condescension of posterity: George Shell of Newport and Charlotte-Alice Bingham of Stroud.
This performative presentation was commissioned by the Chartist Convention to commemorate the 1839 Newport Rising, in general, and the death of George Shell, in particular.
Parts might be repeated, again, on the anniversary of the Rising next November, when we might perform by candle light in the graveyard of St Woolas Cathedral in Newport.
It was there that the dead insurrectionaries were secretly buried at night by the army to prevent any public displays of grief with consequent martyrdom. So circumspect was this military procedure, that all the horses’ hooves were muffled…