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Will Wat, if not, What Will? by Steve Gooch

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People's History Playscripts

Duty Free
Free Time
How the Peace Was Lost
McNaughton

The Motor Show
Our Say
Passed On
Taking Liberties
Wilkes for Mayor
Will Wat, if not, What Will?

Duty Free by Steve Gooch scene

Duty Free (4m, 1f) - 'A Play for Europe'

Rich grew up in Folkestone and never quite accepted his parents' excuse ('the war') for leaving him alone and coming back from Flushing in Holland with his seemingly favoured brother Joe. When Joe takes after his father and begins coming back from 'over there' with unexplained bottles of brandy and French luxury goods, Rich's response is to join the Volunteers protecting Britain's coasts from the foreign invader Napoleon. No wonder that the mysterious Neal sees him as likely recruit for British intelligence in Flushing, spying on, amongst other, his own brother; a connection which comes in handy when, after the war, the latter is caught red-handed at his old trade. Click here for script excerpt.

Free Time (5m, 2f)

Self-styled 'radical' poets of the 1930s discover the limits of their political beliefs at a Writers conference in Spain, 1936, when an anarchist street-poet gate-crashes their tightly-organised Party party. Click here for script excerpt.

How the Peace was Lost (14m,5f minimum)

Play with songs. Scenes portraying the lives of a dozen South Londoners in the years after the Second World War alternate with scenes showing the Cabinet of the Attlee government in action.

Daniel McNaughton

McNaughton (1m) - radio play and one-man show

Daniel McNaughton (also written M'Naghten) grew up the illegitimate son of a Glaswegian woodturner. When he completed his apprenticeship he asked his father if he could become a partner. His father told him that privilege was reserved for his legitimate sons. Daniel went off and, working all hours, built up a successful business of his own. That's when the trouble started. Always a loner, he began to feel he was being followed. And what was he doing outside the Prime Minister's office 15 nights in a row?

Produced by Penny Gold for BBC Radio 4 and performed by Ian Hogg, McNaughton won Steve the Writers Guild Best Radio Play of 2007 award. This famous political murder trial of 1843 resulted in The McNaughton Rule, which became the standard for judging criminal insanity for over a century and is still used around the world today. Click here to listen to the broadcast.

The Motor Show by Steve Gooch

The Motor Show (7m, 2f, minimum)

'An exhilarating evening which reasserts the potential for a real political theatre' - Michael Coveney, Financial Times

Play with songs written with Paul Thompson, borrowing elements of vaudeville and music-hall, and telling in short, fast-moving scenes the history of the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham and its struggle with the trades unions - also the subject of successful British film 'Made in Dagenham' starring Bob Hoskins. Click here for script excerpt.

Our Say (cast of thousands)

Panoramic community play for the West Midlands town Wednesbury, about the beginnings of the struggle for the vote in the early 1840s, and the Chartist movement in the heart of the Black Country's metal-working communities.

Passed On (9m, minimum)

Tells of the growth of English nonconformism following the Peasants' Revolt, from the celebrated theologian John Wyclif in Oxford through lay preachers in the Midlands and West Country to the uprising against Henry V led by Sir John Oldcastle, the prototype for Shakespeare's Falstaff. The true story of Falstaff and Hal. Click here for script excerpt.

Jeffrey Dunstan - Taking Liberties

Taking Liberties (13m, 6f)

When second-hand wig-seller Jeffrey Dunstan (pictured) walks into the Leather Bottle pub in Wandsworth, it soon leads to fierce competition amongst the local plebs as to who will be the next mock-Mayor of Garratt, an election fought with parades and floats and all the fun of carnival. Since Jeffrey's competitors include publican Sam House, the political agent for the infamous Charles James Fox, it isn't long before the smart London set are drawn into the fray. Not only the actor Garrick join the throng of thousands but also the playwright Foote and that well-known 18th Century radical John Wilkes, as well as the scandalous Duchess of Devonshire. Click here for script excerpt.

Wilkes for Mayor (8m, 1f)

When John Wilkes returns from exile in France after his scurrilous assault on King George III and his favourite ministers, few people believe the radical maverick will go far - that's assuming he can get out of prison. Associate John Horne does his best to help him manipulate the London Aldermen who control the City, and together they renew the radical assault on the King. But is Wilkes grateful? Nah. The scrap between 'The 'Two Johns' is almost as fierce as that with His Highness. Click here for script excerpt.

Will Wat, if not, What Will? (6m, 4f, min.)

'Doesn't just show you the peasants' revolt of 1381, it invites you in it. By the end I felt ready to raise a billhook against all oppressors.' - John Mortimer, The Observer

Told in short scenes with contemporary ballads and a myriad of characters doubled by the actors, the play is based on the surviving contemporary records of Wat Tyler's uprising, and tries to show where the rebels came unstuck. Click here for a script excerpt.

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