South Shields theatre group marks 80th anniversary of Jarrow Crusade

Playwright Tom Kelly, seated, fourth left, with members of Ocean Arts at The Customs Space, Captains Row, South Shields, who are rehearsing for a play about the Jarrow Crusade.
Playwright Tom Kelly, seated, fourth left, with members of Ocean Arts at The Customs Space, Captains Row, South Shields, who are rehearsing for a play about the Jarrow Crusade.

A community theatre group is marking the 80th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade by imagining what life would have been like for the people involved.

Members of Ocean Arts Road Show, based in South Shields, are developing the improvised show themselves.

It is an eye-opening journey back in time for many of the members of the Road Show some of whom are quite surprised to discover that there were no domestic telephones, never mind mobile phones.

Martin Wray, Ocean Arts

Director Martin Wray hopes that the project will be made into a film or theatre show.

The group, based at The CustomSpace in Captain’s Row, is made up of adults with learning disabilities.

Martin said: “To help everyone gain a greater understanding of the significance of the Jarrow Crusade we have been introducing everyone to the historic and social background of the period by showing slides and archive footage.

“Dealing with history - even recent modern history - has its problems, and we first had to overcome the ideas that today’s world is the same world of 1936.

“It is an eye-opening journey back in time for many of the members of the Road Show, some of whom are quite surprised to discover that there were no domestic telephones, never mind mobile phones.

“Although the actual story we are telling isn’t totally historically accurate, it is one which has been developed and interpreted by the members themselves.

“The scenes, props and costumes are being created as part of the usual drama daily activity, and this means that everyone can take ownership of the work we have created.

“Nor is the production scripted. In a deviation from usual practice we have encouraged the use of imagination to play out the scenes, allowing the cast to take on the persona of the characters they portray and to become that person, saying what they believe this or that person would have said.”

To find out more about Ocean Arts, go to www.oceanartscic.uk