Activism as performance to mark 200th Peterloo anniversary

Date: 16 August 2019 to 16 August 2019

Location: Outside Manchester Central, Windmill Street, Manchester

Client: Manchester City Council

As part of the Peterloo Anniversary Weekend (16-18 August) we’re worked with Manchester Histories and Brighter Sound on ‘From the Crowd’, a series of 3 free- ticketed performances throughout Friday August 16th, the actual day 200 years ago when the Peterloo Massacre occurred.

This was a powerful participant-led performance piece, created by Evie Manning of Common Wealth Theatre with music by Dutch Uncles composer Robin Richards, which brought together eye witness accounts of those present at Peterloo 1819 with the words of contemporary protesters and poets.

Performed through shared voices by the crowd outside Manchester Central, this collective piece of activism-as-performance aimed to give a contemporary audience the chance to engage in a live piece of activism by mixing eye-witness accounts from the crowds of 1819 with a range of contemporary voices through spoken work, poetry, text and music.

Collectively they voiced a picture of what happened on 16 August 1819 and articulated the change people want to happen in 2019.  At times a single voice was heard; at times hundreds of voices amplified the story.

As part of this spectator-as-participant piece, crowd members were drawn into the performance by 100 'Laurels'

Friday 16 August 2019 saw a dawn-until-dusk series of events which captured the changing moods of the crowds of people who walked from all parts of Manchester to Peter's Fields on this fateful day, initially full of hope before a counter attack by authorities led to anger, violence, outrage and despair.

From the Crowd took place at 12.30pm, 5.30pm and 8pm.  The 12.30pm performance included the naming of the 18 people who died at Peterloo in 1819.

Interspersed through each of these 'performances'  was a range of community events, singing and music from various groups that worked with Manchester Histories on bringing their voice to this important day.  They are open to everyone.

Photography by Mark Waugh and Jonathon Keenan


From the Crowd funders

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Site responsive performance