Arts

Peterloo - Two part event

A Commemoration In Words And Song and Witnesses To A Massacre
1st May 2019, 7:00pm

Two hundred years on from Manchester's notorious Peterloo Massacre, the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society will commemorate the victims of the Manchester Magistrates and Yeoman Cavalry's overzealous intentions to break up a peaceful gathering at St Peters Field.

 

A Commemoration In Words And Song: Geoff Higginbottom and The Free Radicals

On a sunny Monday in August 1819 a mass of humanity 60,000-plus strong gathered at St Peter’s Field in Manchester.   The Manchester Magistrates, unwilling to believe the peaceful intentions of this vast crowd ordered the Yeoman Cavalry to disperse the gathering, the result became known as The Peterloo Massacre.   This musical presentation traces the stories of those involved, the weavers, the Magistrates and the soldiers themselves from the growing unrest caused by the infamous Corn Laws to the aftermath, the retribution and the self-recrimination that followed.

About the Performers - The Free Radicals (Geoff Higginbottom, Martin Gittins and Bob Ashworth) are in great demand at folk events.  Since their Peterloo show first took to the road in the early 2000s, it has grown with Bob and Martin both making contributions in the form of new songs, more stories that link the songs together, and quotes from various luminaries of the day.

 

Witnesses To A Massacre

The bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in 2019 has inspired artistic projects including a feature film, a permanent memorial in Manchester and community-led commemorations and festivals of all kinds.  Artists Paul Fitzgerald (‘Polyp’) and Eva Schlunke are working with historian Robert Poole to produce a vivid, 'warts-and-all' graphic novel with a difference, as every word and event in the narrative will be taken directly from original historical sources to provide an accurate 'comic book' visual account of the massacre, and tell the story Peterloo through the voices of those who were there. The format juxtaposes the ‘fake news’ accounts of the establishment (who were determined to claim the protesters always intended insurrectionary violence and  'threw the first stones', and that the riot act had definitely been read, and so on) with the words of the victims to create a richly evocative ‘sound cloud’.  The illustrated talk will explore how the rich source material (including magistrates and Home Office correspondence, spies’ reports, leaflets, posters and evidence for trials) was used to create a compelling, raw and accurate visual account. The authors will be sharing their story of the often challenging (and sometimes amusing) task of trying to honestly and appropriately construct a dramatic graphic narrative from this enormous amount of often contradictory or incomplete information, and the strange process involved in bringing all the dramatic and nuanced characters back to life.

About the Speakers - Robert Poole (PhD Lancaster 1986) is Guild Research Fellow and Reader in History at the University of Central Lancashire and has held positions at the universities of Keele, Edge Hill and Cumbria.  Polyp is the pen name of Paul Fitzgerald who has been producing political cartoons since 1980. He has drawn for New Internationalist, Ethical Consumer, WDM, Christian Aid, War on Want, Big Issue, Friends of the Earth, FoE, Liberty, People and Planet, and Campaign Against the Arms Trade.  Eva Schlunke was born in Australia and has illustrated a number of books including Xal, le lezard, donne sa langue au sorcier, The Co-operative Revolution, Fight The Power, Conflict and Climate Change, Addicted to Growth and Sprachlos as well as co-authoring and painting the illustrations for Little Worm's Big Question with Polyp.