Townsend Theatre Productions
in association with University of Manchester, The Place Bedford,
E.I.S. and Unite the Union present
Yes! Yes! UCS!
UK National Tour, February – May 2022
A new musical play by Neil Gore celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the
Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ “Work-In” of 1971-72.
Townsend Theatre Productions present Yes! Yes! UCS!, a brand-new, musical play which chronicles the story of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders “Work-In” of 1971-72, in celebration of the 50th anniversary. Powerful theatrical storytelling combines with live rock and folk music from the early 70s and graphic art animated projection to bring a meaningful message of hope, social justice and the fight for the right to work.
Based on verbatim interviews with shipyard workers, Yes! Yes! UCS! is the story of two women workers in an industry facing imminent closure, drawn into the monumental, heroic battle to save thousands of jobs across Glasgow and the West of Scotland. At the time, women in pivotal roles made up little more than 5% of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ workforce, and their history is far less well known. Townsend Theatre Productions’ trademark gritty drama depicts the traditions and skills of Scottish shipbuilding, while shining a light on the role women played in the fight for the right to work, the power of community solidarity, collective resistance and workers’ control.
The show will tour from 12 February 2022 – 1 May 2022, across the UK, with dates in Salford, Sheffield, Clydebank, Irvine, Dalbeattie, Newcastle, London, Bristol, Manchester and many more. The venues for the Highlights rural touring across the north of England will be confirmed early next year.
With the refusal by the incumbent Tory government in 1971 to invest in what they called “lame-duck” industries came the threat that the massive Glasgow and Clydebank shipyards, that made up the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS), would face closure. Shop Stewards – including well known Scottish Trade Union Activists Jimmy Reid and Jimmy Airlie – tried a new tactic from the usual union strikes and sit-ins, resulting in the now famous UCS “Work-in”, designed to show that workers were not just willing to work, but that demand for their work existed. They argued that unemployment was a political choice made by a government more interested in maintaining the profits of corporate capitalism and breaking up a semi-nationalised industry, than in protecting the interests of their citizens.
Yes! Yes! UCS! aims to deliver greater social, cultural and educational impact by generating complementary activities that will creatively return the spirit of the ‘Work-In’ to the communities who were actively involved in this piece of important working-class history. In addition to touring, the company will work with communities across the UK to explore historical and contemporary themes and issues that the show raises, including: workplace exploitation; redundancy; lost communities and self-esteem. Local choirs will join the production throughout the regional tour, adding their voices to the rousing songs and music that was generated at the time conveying the power and unity of the working class speaking up for themselves.
Louise Townsend directs and produces, alongside writer and performer Neil Gore. The two have collaborated across all Townsend Theatre Productions past projects. The cast are young actor/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 art animation is provided by Scarlett Rickard and Jonny Halifax; and emerging artist and recent RCS graduate Ruth Darling is stage and costume designer.
Townsend Theatre Productions have an outstanding reputation for producing imaginative, entertaining, socially relevant live theatre and community education of the highest quality that reaches new audiences in areas of low cultural engagement. Previous work includes Rouse, Ye Women! (2019) – a folk ballad about Mary Macarthur and the women chainmakers of Cradley Heath striking to achieve a living wage in 1910, and We Are the Lions Mr Manager (2017) – the remarkable story of Jayaben Desai who led the 1976-8 Grunwick Film Processing Factory Strike.