There is a Light That Never Goes Out: Scenes from the Luddite Rebellion is the latest devised theatre piece from Kandinsky. Staged by the company at the Royal Exchange, the piece explores the ramifications of valuing machines over human life.
Looking back the Industrial Revolution was the original Northern Powerhouse, although not everyone bought into the future that it promised. During the time of huge industrial change, the Luddites were a band of unemployed British weavers and textile workers who believed that mechanical knitting frames and automated looms had put them out of work. Often referred to as the enemies of progress, these angry workers – the Luddites – smashed and destroyed the new machines that threatened to lower their standards, their wages and their way of life.
Perhaps the message that bosses were using technology as an excuse to beat down the workers, resonates even more strongly now. Using 21st-century artefacts, There is a Light That Never Goes Out asks audiences to question any existing misconceptions about the Luddite uprising, and to question the meaning and cost of progress, both now and then.
James Yeatman and Lauren Mooney of Kandinsky will use original source material, including letters, handbills and newspaper articles, to devise the performance. Improvisation and extensive ensemble work will create a playful and immediate theatrical experience, using 21st century technology to bring early 19th century Manchester to life.
Although the Luddite movement originated in Nottingham, it really took a firm hold in Industrial Manchester. Several years later, many believe that it helped lead to Peterloo. We think that it is brilliant that this passionate and vivid new piece of theatre is brought to the Royal Exchange in time for the bicentenary of Peterloo.