NEWS: Red Ellen @ Northern Stage | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Red Ellen cast at Northern Stage on day 1 of rehearsals, image by Von Fox Promotions

History repeats itself. Even me saying that history repeats itself is probably history repeating itself. But the point of reiterating this over and over is to remind everyone that we can never stop learning from the mistakes of the past. And what better way to make a teachable moment than through the creativity of theatre?

From Friday 25th March until Saturday 9th April, Newcastle’s Northern Stage plays host to the premiere run of Red Ellen, Caroline Bird’s biography of Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson and her lifelong passion for social change. From her activist work campaigning to raise awareness of fascism in the run up to World War Two, to her time as Minister of Education where she successfully advocated for raising the minimum school leaving age and achieved free school meals, ‘Red Ellen’’ cemented her reputation as a pioneer of civil rights and social progress. She’s certainly most famous for her support and involvement in the Jarrow March, a protest by the residents of her constituency against the poverty and unemployment suffered in the region since the closure of its main industry, a shipyard. The 200-strong crusaders marched the almost 300 miles to London to challenge the government on their failings, and the event has since become iconic in the North East as a symbol of perseverance and justice in the face of institutional failings. Nearly a century on from when she was first voted into Parliament, Ellen Wilkinson’s story has found new resonance in today’s society, and its retelling is as important now as it ever will be.

Red Ellen is at Northern Stage, Newcastle from Friday 25th March until Saturday 9th April.

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