Townsend Touring Productions is a small collaboration of artists that have come together to create live theatre of the highest possible artistic standard for audiences in theatre venues that is genuinely accessible and relevant, innovative, imaginative, challenging and that entertains with integrity and humour. We aim present touring theatre to audiences who are not within easy reach of theatre centres, or to those who are not normally theatre goers in non-theatre venues, such as village halls, community centres, youth clubs, schools, working men's clubs, Trades Union conferences and galas. We have also formed links with Trades Unions and artistic and educational organisations that represent the disadvantaged in society to produce work that explores themes and issues of special interest to those who feel they are disadvantaged, that still remains accessible to a wider audience.
The core of the collaboration are:
Producer/director/company founder has been involved in every aspect of theatre production in all scales of theatre, and directed both of Town's End Touring's critically acclaimed productions to date, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, We Will Be Free - The story of The Tolpuddle Martyrs & United We Stand- The story of Des Warren, ricky Tomlinson & The Shrewsbury Pickets. Prior to this she was a casting director, mainly with Pippa Ailion Casting, working on large West End productions, such as Lion King for Disney Theatrical, Original cast We Will Rock You for Phil McIntyre, Tribecca and Queen, Simply Heavenly for National Theatre and Young Vic, All You Need Is Love for John Miller Pete Brookes, Theatre De complicite & DV8 and DeLovely, a film for Winkler Films. On her own she cast seasons for Haymarket Basingstoke and Quondam Theatre Company in Penrith. Full Biography
Neil Gore (Writer/Actor/Musical Director)
Actor/writer/company founder who has always been known as a vibrant performer and musician for thirty years in all types of theatre from small scale to West End and has toured to every corner of the country with over several theatres and theatre companies. He started by joining S.U.Fringe Theatre whilst at university in Sheffield and wrote and performed comedy with Eddie Izzard at successive Edinburgh Festivals in the early 1980s. After university he co-founded Metro Theatre Co-operative with Stephen Daldry and appeared in their production of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and their subsequent commissioned new plays. He returned to RTP to adapt it and write We Will Be Free! & United We Stand, both for two actors, to excellent reviews and audience reaction over the last four years for Towns End Productions.
John Kirkpatrick (Musical Director) Is the finest player of melodeon, button accordion, and anglo concertina in the country, and is one of the most prolific figures on the English folk scene, performing solo and as a member of the Richard Thompson Band, Steeleye Span, Brass Monkey, and Band of Hope. As songwriter, composer, choreographer, and musical director, he has worked for the National Theatre in Lark Rise to Candleford, and for many shows at The Victoria Theatre (later The New Vic) in Stoke and Orchard Theatre in Devon.
UNITED WE STAND
The Story of Des Warren, Ricky Tomlinson and the Shrewsbury 24
by Neil Gore
By the 1970s the UK’s building companies were making millions re-building the country, whilst building workers faced the most dangerous working conditions and poorest wages of any trade. In the summer of '72, for twelve weeks, 300,000 building workers launched their industry's first national all-out strike to end cash "lump" wages and seek better pay by using the controversial tactic of 'Flying Pickets'. Five months after the apparent success of the strike, which had enraged the construction industry and government, 24 builders in North Wales were charged with offences including conspiracy and affray, and were prosecuted at Shrewsbury Crown Court in 1973. They became known as "The Shrewsbury 24", and three of them were jailed, including building workers Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson.
Combining Townsend Productions' entertaining theatrical style developed through their previous productions with 1970s popular and political songs arranged by renowned folk musician John Kirkpatrick, UNITED WE STAND tells the story behind the dispute in a way that is both compelling and thought-provoking.
The events surrounding the strike are still making headlines to this day, and forty two years on, the high-profile Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, led by picket turned actor, Ricky Tomlinson, is still seeking to overturn the unjust prosecution of the 24 building workers.
“William Fox as Des was outstanding & Neil Gore made a fantastic job playing ‘young’ Ricky’ (Ricky Tomlinson The Royle Family)
‘A striking piece of work’ The Observer
***** ‘Exellent ‘ The Morning Star’
**** ‘Passionately delivered’ ‘The Liverpool Echo’
We Will Be Free- The Topuddle Martyrs story by Neil Gore
Musical Director John Kirkpatrick
WE WILL BE FREE!, a new drama set in 1834 about the Tolpuddle Martyrs thatfollows the extraordinary true story of George and Betsy Loveless. He was a Methodist preacher and the leader of the six Dorsetshire farm labourers who were tried, convicted and condemned to harsh transportation by an oppressive Government for having the temerity to swear a secret oath and form a union to fight against a succession of wage cuts inflicted by the local landowner
This vitally important story is told using the entertaining theatrical style developed through our production of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, using live music, new and original songs with political cartoon, animation and puppetry. Again, this story resonates with modern relevance, raising questions about present day political issues through the experiences of the past.
BETSY: George, so many people have worked for your release and return to us, your family. Thousands and thousands of people, whose skills and trades make this country a great country. It is they who have made a change for the good and sought justice and freedom for you and our fine men. I wish you all, every one of you, Enough. Enough sun to keep you bright. I wish you enough rain so you wish for the sun. I wish enough happiness to keep alive your spirit. I wish you enough pain so the small joys in life seem bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy want. I wish you enough loss to appreciate what you possess. I wish you enough ‘hellos’ to give you strength for the final goodbye. I wish you enough, so that you wish for nothing more.
★★★★★ Oxford Times 'This play delivers its message powerfully and shines a light on an important but often neglected strand of British history'
Liz Eves nominated for best actress by The Stage
MUST SEE The Stage
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Fringe Review
★★★★★ Edinburgh Reporter “Very much a play to appeal to all ages”
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
A new two handed version adapted by Neil Gore from the Stephen Lowe play based on Robert Tressell’s classic book.
Townsend Productions present this classic story of a group of painter-decorators who are joined by artist Owen, whose spirited attacks on the dishonesty of Capitalism, along with his Socialist vision, highlight exploitation in the workplace and inequality in society. Relevant still, this tale is told with vigour and passion.
This hugely successful production is a gem of Edwardian humorous theatre with songs and music of the time directed by folk legend John Kirkpatrick.
"A strong and robust show that brings the characters, humour and inspirational ideas of this great book to life. It is needed now more than ever. You'll leave the theatre and join the struggle!" Ken Loach, Film Director.
**** ‘Tremendous’ The Times.
10/10 "Sensational’ Liverpool Echo.