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In Time o' Strife


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A: Joe Corrie Pf: 1928, Scottish tour Pb: 1928 G: Drama in 3 acts; Scots dialect S: Kitchen of the Smiths' home, Carhill, Scotland, 1926 C: 5m, 5fJock Smith is a miner on strike with the rest of his men, while his wife, two daughters, and a son manage as best they can, living in primitive conditions without enough to eat. When the Parish Council offers no more support, the strikers consider accepting defeat, but cousin Kate urges them to fight on. When Jock's wife Jean returns home, exhausted from her attempts to get food on credit, Jock resolves to go back to work rather than let his family starve, until the thought of being labelled a ‘blackleg’ stops him. Jean pawns her wedding ring to provide food. Wull Baxter, who is engaged to Jock's older daughter Jenny, goes back to work and is banned from the house. Jock has a win on the horses, but his bookie is arrested before Jock can get his money. When Wull returns from work, he provokes a riot that is bloodily suppressed by the police. The strike leader, Kate's boyfriend, is sentenced to three years in prison. Tam Pettigrew, Kate's father, gets drunk to console himself for his wife's death from malnutrition. Wull tries unsuccessfully to get Jenny to emigrate to Canada with him. The miners are forced back to work, but Jean knows that they'll ‘win through yet’.

A: Joe Corrie Pf: 1928, Scottish tour Pb: 1928 G: Drama in 3 acts; Scots dialect S: Kitchen of the Smiths' home, Carhill, Scotland, 1926 C: 5m, 5f

In the early 20th century there was a vigorous naturalistic school of vernacular writing, closer to continental models like The Lower Depths than to the mainstream English theatre set in drawing rooms and peopled by middle-class characters. O'Casey in Ireland, D. H. Lawrence in Nottingham, and this play by Corrie from Scotland showed how powerful faithfully recorded working-class conflict could be on stage. Set at the time of the General Strike, In Time o' Strife, premiered by the Bowhill Players formed from a group of miners, was successfully revived by the 7:84 Theatre Company in 1982, when Margaret Thatcher was squaring up for the 1984 miners' strike.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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