R E D S H E
D P L A Y E R S
"It`s a right pantomime".
. . . OH NO IT ISN`T !
One of them is not Happy !
The Red Shed Players are our resident, semi-regular,
anarcho-syndicalist amateur dramatic group who entertain the masses
with a quirky blend of agitprop, biting satire, surreal imagery,
existentialist philosophy, Brechtian direction, Marxist-Leninist
politics and a few carefully hidden jokes
(who writes this stuff ? is it
whoever writes the crap scripts ??)
In 1992, with the Tory government`s pit closure programme ripping
the heart out of many towns like Wakefield, the only possible course
of action to counter the devastation being inflicted on our
communities was to set up a group to perform a pantomime about
it. The first production was "Snow White and the Seven Pit
Closures", featuring (amongst other things) a dissolute King
who, on the advice of a talking tree, did the "Westgate Run" (Wakefield`s most famous pub crawl)
in a search for romance. He got hitched up with the Wicked
Queen, who was busy shutting down the pit run by 7 dwarves (of all
shapes & sizes). Then of course there was Snow White who
led the opposition to this pit closure. It also featured
a walk-on part for Wakefield`s then MP David Hinchliffe. Any
resemblance to a certain well-known story was accidental.
First performed at Wakefield Labour Party`s Christmas social, it
nearly caused a riot, and set the tone for a series of productions (all bearing at least as much
resemblance to the popular tales of the same name as did the
original) over the following years, including :
"Jack and the Beanstalk" - in which a very strange man sold Jack some
magic beans (or maybe they were magic mushrooms) in exchange
for Daisy the faithful cow.
"Cinderella" - who, with the help of her Blairy Godmother, rode off to
the ball in a wheelie bin fit for a princess.
"Aladdin" - a NEW version of the old story to mark the
arrival of NEW Labour, NEW Britain.
"Dick Whittington" - in which Dick, together with his
faithful cat, set off from old London town to seek his destiny and
become Mayor of Wakefield.
"A Christmas Carol" - in which Ebenezer Scrooge, having seen
the error of his ways, made the long-suffering Bob Cratchit a
STAKEHOLDER in his business.
The Players also branched out into revues of a slightly more
seriously political nature for other events, mainly mayday
As the group`s fame spread throughout the land, it shared a stage
with other leading performers, including stand-up comedian Mark
Thomas (who has a long association with the Red Shed) and attracted
attention from the Guardian`s arts critic, who was obviously not in
tune with the group`s quirky etc. (see above) style and gave
the show a one-star rating (do we give a **** ?)
There was a lull in the group`s activity for a few years, and then
in 2008 the "credit crunch" set off a collapse of the banking
system. This, combined with the election (sic.) of the Con-Dem
coalition government meant desperate times for all of us.
Desperate measures were needed to combat this . . . . the Red Shed
Players were reactivated !
First production of the new era was a revival of "A Christmas
Carol" - in which Scrooge, aided and abetted by his banker
friends Mr. Clegg and Mr. Cameron (or
was it Cameron & Clegg ? we couldn`t tell the difference)
made the still long-suffering Bob Cratchit part of the BIG SOCIETY.
Our 2015 production was a revival (rehashed, including at least 2
lines from the original production) of "Snow White and the Seven
Pit Closures" to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1984-85
miners` strike. This time it was spiced up with the addition
of a short old-fashioned mummers play - but without a dragon or a
Turkish knight in sight - there were much more dangerous beasts to
be slain here : the Tory knight and the UKIP knight ! This
production was performed at the Red Shed, then on tour at the Trades
Club, Hebden Bridge, then as part of the "Banners
held high" event at Unity Works, Wakefield.
Last year`s production was "Corbyn
Hood", based on the legend of Robin Hood.
Can`t think why we never did that before because, as everyone knows,
the real Robin Hood came from Wakefield.
. . . OH YES HE DID !
Set sometime between the 12th and 21st centuries,
somewhere between Wakefield, the studios of the BBC, Carnforth
railway station and the Tory Party conference in Manchester (Confused
? You will be !) it featured Jeremy Corbyn cast in the role of
our hero, together with various oppressed peasant types and some
Tory politicians to shout "Boo" at. It also included an
episode of our own long-running TV soap opera "Wood Street" *
The Players performed something suitably wacky for the club`s 50th
anniversary in September this year, and are now working on the Red
Shed TV Xmas Special . . . . Fun for all the family, including
some repeats from our previous show (well you`ve got to have repeats
on a TV channel haven`t you ?) and some new stuff, including our
version of "Little Red Shed Riding Hood"
Taking a leaf out of the Labour party`s book in the Jeremy Corbyn
era, we are looking to expand the membership of the troupe (maybe
not to quite as much as half a million). Feel free to get in
touch if you`re interested in joining us.
"Red Shed TV Xmas special" Performances :
Sat. 7th January 2017 at the Red Shed,
Sun. 8th January 2017
at the Red Shed, Wakefield
at the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
at the Red & Green Club,
at the Labour Club, Glossop
An everyday story of council folk (as shown on Red Shed
The story so far . . . .
(for those who missed previous episodes and the omnibus
1996 : A firebrand leftwinger gets elected as councillor. He
wants to change the world.
1997 : He gets appointed to a sub-committee looking into wheelie
1999 : Promoted to committee chair, he starts to enjoy life at the
2001 : He seems to have forgotten why he was elected. His wife
argues with him.
2012 : He has risen to be leader of the council. His wife
threatens to leave him.
2015 : As an elder statesman of the council, a knighthood beckons -
or does it ?
Any resemblance to any politician (living, dead or undead) is
* F.Y.I. if you`re not from
Wakefield - Wood Street is where you will find the Town Hall.
I aspire to being a wooden actor" : The pantomime tree
This page updated : 29th October 2016
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