One-off play at Rosehill Theater recalls 1970s dispute between Upper Clyde shipbuilders

Townsend Theater Productions presents Yes! Yes! UCS!, a new musical piece that tells the story of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders “Work-In” of 1971-72, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary.

Powerful theatrical narration combines with live rock and folk music from the early 70s and a lively projection of graphic art to bring a meaningful message of hope, social justice and the fight for the right to work.

Based on text interviews with shipyard workers, Yes! Yes! UCS! is the story of two female workers in an industry facing imminent closure, embroiled in the monumental and heroic battle to save thousands of jobs in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

At the time, women in key roles made up just over 5% of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders workforce, and their story is much less well known.

Townsend Theater Productions‘ signature gritty drama portrays the traditions and skills of Scottish shipbuilding, while highlighting the role women play in the fight for the right to work, the power of community solidarity, collective resistance and worker control.

The show is touring across the UK and will arrive at the Rosehill Theater in Whitehaven on Saturday March 26.

With the refusal of the Conservative government in place in 1971 to invest in what they called the ‘lame duck’ industries, the threat of closure of the huge Glasgow and Clydebank shipyards, which made up the shipbuilders of the Upper Clyde (UCS).

Shop stewards – including well-known Scottish labor activists Jimmy Reid and Jimmy Airlie – tried a new tactic of the usual union strikes and sit-ins, culminating in the now famous UCS ‘Work-in’, designed to show that the workers were not only eager to work, but that demand for their work existed.

They argued that unemployment was a political choice made by a government more concerned with maintaining the profits of corporate capitalism and breaking up a semi-nationalized industry than protecting the interests of its citizens.

Yes! Yes! UCS! aims to provide greater social, cultural and educational impact by generating complementary activities that will creatively bring the spirit of “Work-In” back to the communities that have been actively involved in this important working class story.

In addition to touring, the company will work with communities across the UK to explore historical and contemporary themes and issues raised by the show, including: exploitation in the workplace; redundancy; lost communities and self-esteem.

Local choirs will join the production throughout the regional tour, adding their voices to the upbeat songs and music that were generated at the time, conveying the power and unity of the working class speaking out for themselves.

Louise Townsend directs and produces, alongside writer and performer Neil Gore.

The two have collaborated on all previous Townsend Theater Productions projects.

The cast are young actress/musicians Janie Thomson and Heather Gourdie; musical direction is provided by well-known cellist, Beth Porter of the Bookshop Band and Eliza Carthy’s Wayward Band; Daniella Beattie returns as lighting designer; graphic animation is provided by Scarlett Rickard and Jonny Halifax; and emerging artist and recent RCS graduate, Ruth Darling is a set and costume designer.

Townsend Theater Productions has an outstanding reputation for producing imaginative, entertaining and socially relevant live theater and community education of the highest quality that reaches new audiences in areas with low cultural engagement.

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