THEATRE WORKSHOP SCOTLAND “THE HAPPY LANDS” ROAD SHOW THE HAPPY LANDS is a Theatre Workshop Scotland Production supported by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland in association with BBC Scotland. Directed by Robert Rae, Produced by Helen Trew, Photography by Scott Ward, Music by James Ross, Design by James Helps, Edited by Florian Nonnemmacher.
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BRIEFING DOCUMENT 2
THEATRE WORKSHOP SCOTLAND “THE HAPPY LANDS” FESTIVAL AND ROAD SHOW BRIEFING
CONTENTS THE FACTS UNIQUE PROCESS RELEVANCE TODAY
It's the General Strike 1926 - Only seven years after the slaughter of the trenches, millions of workers across the country down tools to take part in the biggest walk out in British history, taking a stand against savage austerity cuts imposed by a Liberal-Conservative government. Robert Rae’s epic, sweeping portrait of a definitive moment in the history of social justice charts the lives of three Scottish families as they deal with questions of loyalty, honour, love and trust in the midst of the Strike. Created with over 1000 members of the Fife community, this moving story of the hardship faced by the miners is ultimately a celebration of the indomitable human spirit, which will resonate around the globe. A game changing work that casts the people of the Fife Coalfield Communities at the heart of their own story and told it in their own voices and imprint it permanently on film. TWS created an enduring social and artistic legacy that gave many participants what they have described as “the time of their lives”.
MINING IN 2012 ARTISTIC CONTEXT EDUCATIONAL IMPORTA NCE SCOTTISH IDENTITY QUOTES PARTICIPANTS G CONTENTS THE FACTS
THE FACTS Four years in the making (2008-2012) Over 1000 voluntary participants
A UNTHIQUE PROCESS
GLASGOW FILM FESTIVAL
88,440 hours (more than 10 years) freely invested by participants
More than 260 professionally led workshops in all aspects of film development, support and production
11 formal, financially supported, trainee placements for Fife young people
Youngest participant Mikayla Wilkinson: 2 weeks old, and the eldest, Nan Phillips was 93 years old
A UNIQUE PROCESS – A FILM FOR THE AGE OF OCCUPY A ground breaking work that paves the way for extraordinary collaborative film-making, casting people in the retelling of their own stories. In The Happy Lands, the people of Fife capture the true drama the 1926 General Strike. A definitive moment in national history, the film tells the real personal stories of their forebears: the struggles, the hardship, and ultimately the triumph of the indomitable human spirit. In a unique process honed over decades of creating epic artworks with real people, director Robert Rae embedded the entire movie making infrastructure in the heart of the sweeping landscapes of Fife, harnessing the experiences, family histories and memories of those involved. From the stars of the film to the researchers, camera operators and costume designers, over 1000 Fife residents, from two weeks old to 93 years old, were responsible for the creation The Happy Lands. The result is an outstanding model of uncompromising artistic quality married with exemplary community practice, offering the industry a genuine alternative methodology for film-making. ‘I have changed as a person… It has totally made me regain my faith in humanity.’ Kevin Clarke (played Michael Brogan)
RELEVANCE TODAY A moving, brutal account of a nation on the brink of revolution, Robert Rae’s startling account of the impact of the 1926 General Strike offers irresistible parallels with a world in economic crisis in 2012. March 1926: the Samuel Commission recommends a 13.5% reduction in wages, removal of government subsidy, and longer working hours for miners – and blames the debt. October 2012: George Osborne announces £10 billion welfare cuts, and plans to allow companies to waive employee rights in exchange for shares – and blames the debt. Set at a time when a Conservative-Liberal pact was slashing wages and the rights of the poorest in society, The Happy Lands may be viewed as a damning indictment of Cameron’s Government- and a prescient warning of what could lie ahead. With Fife badly hit by the recession and unemployment at a twelve year high, The Happy Lands offers tangible evidence of the real impact film can have in transforming lives, investing in local jobs, business and education, creating a legacy that will last a lifetime. ‘Not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day’ Slogan of the 1926 General Strike
MINING IN 2012 In 2010 the world held its breath as 33 Chilean miners were rescued, following 69 days trapped underground. Since August 2012 over 75,000 miners have gone on strike in South Africa, demanding improvements to their rights and pay, with violent unrest resulting in more than 50 deaths. The incidents are a stark reminder of the on-going human rights struggles of those working in the mining industry around the world today. The cause has garnered high profile champions including Leonardo Di Caprio, star of 2006’s Blood Diamond, the account of how conflicts are funded by the mining of diamonds and other minerals, and Bono, who has met with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to demand stricter rules in the international mining trade. The Happy Lands portrays the harsh, gritty day-to-day reality for miners in uncompromising terms, with an intimate portrait of a way of life faced by millions across the globe in 2012
EDUCATIONAL IMPORTANCE "It is a conflict which, if it is fought out to a conclusion can only end in the overthrow of parliamentary government or its decisive victory." Winston Churchill, Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer 1926 saw the first and only General Strike in British history: called by the Trade Union Congress, 1.7 million people participated, closing mines, transport, newspapers, docks and power stations. For nine days, not a wheel turned nor a light shone without the permission of the workers. It was a show of might like never before, a watershed moment that shaped the evolution of social justice and workers’ rights. The Happy Lands presents the human face of this historic moment, featuring first-hand accounts and testimonies of those who live in Fife, told in their own voices. Based on extensive research led by Robert Rae, with the National Mining Museum Scotland and the Fife Mining Heritage Group, the film draws on the memories, stories, resources and research contributed by more than 100 local Fife people, The Happy Lands is a compelling study of a heroic period that must never be forgotten. The film has been screened as part of National Schools Film Week in London and Edinburgh, with a view to developing relationships with partners in the education sector, and Fife schools are developing Educational Material for the Curriculum for Excellence. ‘Cllr Clarke would be keen to see a copy of the DVD going into every school in the area as this is a story now told that must be kept alive’ Joe McGuinness, Fife Council Area Services Manager
SCOTTISH IDENTITY Set against magnificent Scottish landscapes and in traditional mining towns and villages, and spoken in the rich and diverse Scot’s language as spoken in Fife, The Happy Lands reflects a dignified, genuine image of a rich Scottish cultural heritage. The Happy Lands focuses on the traditional mining communities of Fife, several of those involved in making the film have first-hand experience of the tensions and huge social upheaval of the 1984/85 miners’ strike: lending the film an added aura of authenticity. The Happy Lands maps the events that laid the foundation of Scotland’s identification with socialism and internationalism and asks questions which many Scots feel aren’t being asked within the current Yes / No campaign. o
Is the desire for social justice, as captured in the film, driving change or is it national pride or patriotism – or merely the politicians desire for power?
Is the perception of Scotland as a socialist country still meaningful today or has the perception of socialism within Scotland changed so dramatically since 1926 as to render it meaningless?
The enduring challenge of poverty is pervasive throughout the film. If this is still a major issues Scotland has to tackle, or as Professor Tom Devine commented, is the current debate operating in a moral vacuum in which Scotland’s pervasive poverty and inequality are rarely mentioned?
With the worlds media fascinated by the “End of Empire” days represented by the possible break-up of the United Kingdom, there is likely to be international media interest in the film, as evidenced at its recent screening at the China Film Museum in Beijing where large enthusiastic audiences commented upon its relevance to both China today and to the Independence debate. With millions around the world claiming Scottish ancestry, and remarkably strong diaspora groups thriving in countries such as America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, The Happy Lands will find affinities across the globe.
A WOMEN’S PERSPECTIVE I thought the film was fantastic, powerful, very moving. A story of a strong community holding together, a story about love and a story about a communities sadness, but also a story of hope – with a message than can be received across Scotland, Britain and across the world. I can’t imagine a place where it wouldn’t be enjoyed. Johann Lamont, MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party I really liked the film, beautifully shot, really well directed – but most importantly the acting was incredible, fantastic – so much heart to it - their roots in Fife just shone through. Cllr. Deidre Brock, Depute Lord Provost, Edinburgh City Council, SNP. I found it very powerful and very moving. I like the way that it tells women’s stories as well as the impact on the whole community, the role that women play and the strength that they bring to building the kind of Scotland we want to live in. Ann Henderson, STUC Assistant Secretary, Policy & Campaigns. It struck me that The Happy Lands presented women as part of the struggle, a big part – and they kept it up through the whole film. As a women I thought it was a really good film – uplifting and emotional. It showed that people really could fight back. Angela McHugh, Glasgow I thought it was a great film, so relevant. Change the costume - change the period of history and it would be up to date, In particular for me, as a women, I really liked the way it recorded women’s history. It was great to see the contribution that women made and how crucial they were to the whole experience. Really really liked it. Audience Member, Glasgow
QUOTES ‘This is a great film - for Fife, for the Scottish Film Industry, for all those who are associated with the history and heritage of our Great Scottish mining communities.’ Former Prime Minister, Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP ‘I'm still not sure that everyone appreciates just how significant this film is, a permanent testimony to an important moment in working class history, a moment which deserves to live for ever. It will live forever, available to billions of people, on multiple devices, from cinema screens to mobile phones. It is the working class telling working class history. That is rare and valuable and stands up, head high, alongside any political film I ever helped to make, or any I have seen.’ Tony Garnett, Drama Producer (Kes, Cathy Come Home) ‘It's a fine film, beautifully shot and very moving. The acting is excellent - amazing given that the cast are the villagers themselves. But given that most of them are direct relatives of the mining community from 1926, perhaps this closeness lent an authenticity that professional actors might have struggled with”. David Elliot, Director Arts, British Council, China ‘We are delighted to have invested in such an engaging project. Through the exploration of their own community history the project will leave a lasting legacy for the community of Fife, encouraging long-lasting links between people, places and ideas”. Iain Munro, Director of Creative Development, Creative Scotland, “I thought the film was fantastic, powerful, very moving.” Johann Lamont, MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party I really liked the film, beautifully shot, really well directed – but most importantly the acting was incredible, fantastic,” Cllr. Deidre Brock, Depute Lord Provost, Edinburgh City Council, SNP. “I thought it was very emotional. Very revealing, it told you about the human stories the real life stories and the sacrifices people made– very educational but very emotional”. Willie Rennie, MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats ‘In my non- Barry Norman opinion, superb: the cinematography, contemporaneous feel, the music, the emotion and atmosphere, and the quality of the acting were of a high order. The themes it speaks to are all still relevant to modern society. A triumph of collective endeavor’. John Gallacher, Scottish Organiser, UNISON “It is marvellous cinema and so much more. To be honest, I was somewhat surprised and very impressed by the high quality of the production, international-standard in very aspect. As a story, it does not flinch from the harrowing events and cruel injustices, yet it has humour and inspiration. It made me realise why I’m so proud of the people I come from. The performances were startlingly realistic in a way full-time professionals can’t quite achieve. The Happy Lands couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, witness the lines at the very end about remembering these things because history repeats itself.” Tom Brown, Political commentator, columnist, broadcaster and author. ‘Powerful and gentle, tearing at the heart whilst galvanising anger. Because of the vision and boldness of the makers of this film, the story and the struggle were given to us, gloriously and with conviction, by the people of the community, the inhabitants and offspring of the same place, the same community, for this history and its lessons belonged to them, and now to us. Geoff Shears, Former CEO Thompson Solicitors
Extraordinary. Congratulations to everyone involved. For me the echoes for and continuities in the great strike of 1984/85 were most powerful and poignant. The film illustrates brilliantly both the power and the deep suffering involved in constructing and maintaining solidarity, the ways in which engagement in struggle heightens people's understanding and commitment, the critical and inherently fragile interfaces between men and women, between families and children, between local communities and national leadership, between state and police brutality and people's quiet, noble and determined resistance. Prof. Bob Fryer, Former Principal, Northern College, UK “Superb. A heart wrenching but also wonderful demonstration of a working class community engaging in solidarity and self sacrifice in pursuit of a decent life for themselves and their children. It also drew powerful parallels with current government policy. 1926 soup kitchens - 2012 food banks; 1926 evictions - 2013 the new bedroom tax which will reduce housing benefit and lead to loss of homes; the police in 1926, 1984 and Hillsborough; the sacking of the strike leaders in 1926 - the 2012 proposals to reduce unfair dismissal protection; post 1st world war 'homes fit for heroes' with imperial medals and returning from Afghanistan to face redundancy and more. Nothing new under the sun!! Jim Sutherland, Former Director of Education for UNISON Participant quotes “Totally amazing that the ‘little leaflet’ that came home in my sons schoolbag would lead to such a fantastic community project, and produce a good film of excellent quality, with ‘real folk’ – all with mining community links. The Happy Lands ‘gang’ now have their own community, treasured memories of long happy days, some cold some wet, but what laughs, a truly amazing experience and proud of the 3 year commitment from all involved.” Elaine McBride, (participant, played Isa Beveridge) “I’ve become stronger, I know more about myself, I’ve learnt a lot about myself. At the wrap it was like ... when you win the gold medal…. you felt somebody, you felt special”, Jo Denholm, (participant, played Molly Guthrie) “I’ve changed as a person, hopefully for the better thanks to this project and that’s due to the care and support given. I’ve met so many great people through this and, though I may have said it before, it has totally made me regain my faith in humanity.” Kevin Clarke, (participant, played Michael Brogan) “Best time of my life for me and my children, and that will last forever. So proud of how it has been produced also learned so much through the whole process which I shall pass on to everyone I know.” Kim Donnachie, (participant, played Gracie McGregor) "I found the film to be quite emotional as it brought back memories of the 1984 strike. I thought the acting was superb and the sense of community came over very well. My experience of this project has been nothing short of fantastic. I have met so many new friends and took part in something I never thought possible." Joki Wallace (participant played Dan Guthrie)
People say ‘Braveheart’ inspires them and makes them proud to be Scottish. ‘The Happy Lands’ in my opinion overtakes it and is enhanced by the passion and professionalism shown on and off screen by my fellow Fifers.” Richard Innes, www.facebook.com/pages/The-Happy-Lands/
PRE-FESTIVAL PRIVATE SCREENINGS; CCA, Glasgow, Monday 14th January, 12:00 – 14:00. Scottish Parliament , Thursday 17th January, 17:30 – 20:00. BFI London, Tuesday 22nd January, 14:00 – 17:00 GLASGOW FILM FESTIVAL: The UK Premiere The Happy Lands has been selected for GFF13 th and will screen at GFT on Sunday February 17 (13.40) (SOLD OUT) and Monday 18th at The Clydebank Empire (11.00). Additional screening TUESDAY 19th. HOUSE OF COMMONS, WESTMINSTER, TUE 2nd JULY hosted by Rt.Hon. Gordon Brown MP & Lindsay Roy MP (invite only) ROAD SHOW: The tour is modeled on the great American road show theatrical releases of the past - a limited number of screenings, to gage the appetite for a more general release of a title, and to garner interest in the film. FEBRUARY: th 19 – 26 Travelling Film Festival, Rennes, France travelling ff MARCH: st FRI 1 rd SUN 3 th SUN 10 th SUN 10 th MON 11 th MON 11 th SAT 16 th MON 18 th WED 20 th TUE 26 st SUN 31
BLANTYRE MINERS WELFARE blantyre miners welfare PENICUIK COMMUNITY CINEMA (SOLD OUT) penicuik cinema EDEN COURT, Inverness eden-court. whats-on ADAM SMITH THEATRE, Kirkcaldy (SOLD OUT) adam smith ADAM SMITH THEATRE, Kirkcaldy (10.00 am) (SOLD OUT) ADAM SMITH THEATRE, Kirkcaldy (7.30 pm) (SOLD OUT) DURHAM MINERS, Redhills, Durham Miners LOGANLEA MINERS WELFARE (Pitstop) loganleamw GALA CINEMA. Durham gala durham SHEFFIELD SHOWROOM sheffield showroom BONESS HIPPODROME Boness Cinema
APRIL th FRI 5 th SAT 13 th FRI 19 th WED 24 FRI 26th st th 21 - 28
NATIONAL COAL MINING MUSEUM, Wakefield ncm PHOENIX ARTS CENTRE, Leicester phoenix arts KIRKCONNEL MINERS HALL 01659 67224 GULBENKIAN, Canterbury Gulbenkian Kent COLINSBURGH COMMUNITY CINEMA cccinema BEIJING INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL bjiff
MAY WED 1st SUN 5th SUN 5th th SAT 11 th SUN 12 FRI 24th JUNE WED 12th FRI 14th
RIVERSIDE STUDIOS, Hammersmith riverside studios DCA, Dundee dca GFT1, 1 3.45pm ROBERT BURNS CENTRE, Dumfries 2pm robbie burns centre WATERSHED, Bristol, (Festival of Ideas) 1pm watershed BOWHILL MINERS INSTITUTE 6 pm Lochgelly Centre 7 pm / Photography Exhibition Lochgelly Centre 7 pm/ Photography Exhibition
About TWS and Robert Rae Robert Rae’s first film was TROUBLE SLEEPING, also a co-created participatory feature film, told the story of Refugees living in Edinburgh, won a BAFTA New Talent Award, 4 Best Drama Awards at International Festivals, was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA and was screened by BBC2 Scotland. Over the last forty years TWS has expressed its mission to increase participation in the arts through a variety of arts practice, from Children’s theatre, Circus, Visual arts, Film, small-scale touring theatre, receiving theatre, inclusive theatre and Community Plays. TWS has settled upon participatory feature film as it found a significant increase in the take-up of its offer, with more than 1000 volunteers giving 88,000 voluntary hours to THE HAPPY LANDS, while enjoying a wide range of activities including acting, singing, dancing, design, building, costume making, writing and photography. Previously Producer for 7:84 Theatre Company (England) and a freelance Director, Robert became Artistic Director of TWS in 1996 where he has directed, devised and/or written numerous professional shows and large-scale productions. His preferred way of working places the people whose story he is telling at the heart of the creative process. During his time at TWS he has championed the employment of disabled actors. Shows include; THE THREEPENNY OPERA by Brecht (Festival Theatre & Tramway), ENDGAME by BECKETT (Arches & Tour), BABYLON BURNING, BLACK SUN OVER GENOA (Festival Theatre & Tramway), THE JASMINE ROAD & ONE HOUR BEFORE SUNSHINE by Ghazi Hussein (Touring), GILLIAN CULLAIG/HOGMANAY BOYS, KAGAYUHIME, JACK IN THE LAND OF DREAMS by Stanley Robertson (Christmas Shows), JIMMY C!, THE RIVER, (writer), D.A.R.E., IF I DIE B 4 U WAKE and SQUEELIN LIKE A PIG by Debbie Issit.
TWS, a not for profit charity, would like to acknowledge the importance of the year round support from Edinburgh City Council and the continuing project support from Creative Scotland.