By Ben Harker
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Additional info for Class Act: The Cultural and Political Life of Ewan MacColl
Operating under the slogan ‘A Propertyless Theatre for the Propertyless Class’, they set about studying and emulating the work of their more experienced international brethren. 66 Like ‘Blue Blouses’, the name ‘Red Megaphone’ was murmured with hushed reverence by members of the British WTM. 67 At their worst, these exchanges highlighted the limitations of the British WTM – in 1933, for example, a delegation from the British WTM took part in the Moscow International Workers’ Theatre Olympiad and came last.
BBC work had dried up, so she moved into 37 Coburg Street. It was a difficult time. Her own grandparents were warm and easy-going people; the atmosphere at Coburg Street was cold and stiff. Will Miller was prematurely aged, wheezy with asthma and now suffered from bouts of deep depression. 67 Betsy’s body was covered in painful psoriasis, making her moods volatile and her tongue even sharper than usual. 68 The Millers were radical politically but morally conservative; Lower Broughton neighbours were gossipy, and Betsy wanted her son and Joan to do the decent thing and get married.
53 What Jimmie sensed intuitively, Thomas was able to articulate: that a production like Still Talking could give voice to those looking for a shift from formal and stagey Labour theatre to a more mobile form befitting the urgency of Class Against Class politics. 55 Bob Goodman, who lived near the Millers, joined up. A clever lad, Bob was a quiet Young Communist and a promising amateur boxer who became a favourite with Betsy. 58 Four teenage girls were also committed to the venture. 60 MacColl later recalled the frustrations of early meetings, held either in the damp cellar of the Workers’ Arts Club or in the Millers’ kitchen.