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Rank and File, The

Hot-off-the-press account by Jim Allen of the St Helens Pilkington Glass factory workers’ strike of the previous year from the eternally committed Allen, covering the work of the Rank and File Strike Committee (headed up by Peter Kerrigan) and their betrayal by union leaders in London. Allen came to write this play when he took a copy of his Wednesday Play The Big Flame round to the factory to show to workers, and was cornered by an old glassworker who showed him the grisly injuries of his trade and told him he’d been summarily dismissed after fifty years loyal service for refusing to cross picket lines, and had his pension taken away. Allen remarked “He’d got me by the bollocks, hadn’t he?” Allen himself found the dramatisation wanting, and later dismissed this play as “a lantern lecture,“ inferior to his more fictional The Big Flame, though for such a quick reaction to real events, it‘s far from the failure he claimed. Directed, as ever, by Ken Loach.

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