Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
‘Welcome to a day inside the town that time forgot…’ goes the first line in the new musical I’m writing called The State of Things. As the title suggests, the show is about just that.
I grew up in a small canal town in the Midlands and, for as long as I can recall, knew I wanted to go into music and theatre. I’m lucky to have parents who were willing to ferry me around to rehearsals and, of course, scrape together enough money to fund my hobby.
But supportive parents are not the only thing needed to succeed, and as our feeble government seems intent on powering through with its failed austerity vision for the country, arts spending in schools was one of the first things to be guillotined.
During my time at school I saw first-hand how these cutbacks hit our music and drama departments the hardest. Redundancies were commonplace, our two extracurricular orchestras were disbanded, student numbers opting to take music at GCSE and A-Level plummeted and, eventually, some creative courses weren’t offered to Sixth Form students at all.
Despite the proven socio-economic benefits of investment in the arts, we always seem to see them suffer under Conservative governments.
So, now, five years after leaving high school, my best friend Thomas Attwood and I have written a brand new rock musical about our experiences growing up, and our encounters with Austerity Britain both in school and at home.
The show follows a school band and their fight against the system after they discover their music course is being cut. It’s a story of rebellion against authority, the awkwardness of being teenagers and the struggles that young people and their families face when the welfare state is no longer there to support them.
If you’re a musical theatre fan then, great, this is definitely for you. If you’re not, then don’t despair, this is far from your traditional ‘song and dance’ show! We have a talented cast in a live rock band playing songs that sound more like an iTunes playlist than Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a story packed full of laughter, heartbreak and swearing (sorry, Mum).
With the resurgence of populism in leftist policies and for, arguably, the first time a huge increase in political activism from young people, I hope the show can become a battle cry for anyone who’s ever felt excluded from the elitist politics that serve only to help the few, not the many.
No matter where you sit on the political spectrum we’d love to see you at the premiere of The State of Things and hear our story about an age, class and subject matter that is too often left behind.
The State of Things runs from 7-23 September at the Jack Studio Theatre, in south east London. More info and tickets.
We work ourselves into the ground for little economic benefit. It's high time to for a change, writes Aidan Harper.
Deregulation and tax loopholes are justified by saying that they 'protect growth'. But really, they just protect the wealthy, writes James Fox
Inequality is often treated as a law of nature - but really, it's the result of conscious political choices. It's time to choose equality, writes the IPPR's Carys Roberts.
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright