Banner celebrates thirty challenging years!
Banner Theatre - one of the few remaining touring companies specialising
in community and political theatre - is celebrating its thirtieth
birthday this spring. The party kicked off with a two-day event
at the University of Central England and Birmingham Library Theatre,
and is marked by the publication of a songbook Singing
the Changes, and the launch of a CD which includes songs from
the new show, Wild Geese, which had its first performance on 8th
In keeping with the company's long-standing tradition of working
with excluded or disadvantaged communities, Wild Geese is based
on stories of exile and migration - and includes material about
the Chinese cockle-pickers in Morecambe, refugees working in Canary
Wharf and Iranian asylum seekers in the West Midlands.
To organise the birthday event on 8th and 9th April, Banner joined
forces with the University of Central England's Department of Media
and Communication, the Bournemouth University Media School's Centre
for Broadcasting History Research, the Charles
Parker Archive and Birmingham City Archives.
Organisers were delighted that the weekend of debate, discussion,
exhibition and performance, which combines the birthday celebration
for Banner with this year's Charles Parker Day, attracted a broad
range of people with an interest in the role of the arts in supporting
and stimulating social and political change.
" Banner Theatre has spent the last thirty years working with
the trade union and labour movement, with the real-life experience
of working-class people at the heart of all our productions,"
said Dave Rogers, Banner's artistic director and a founder member
of the company. "Over the last three decades we have played
an important part in helping some of society's most disenfranchised
communities to have a voice and it is fantastic to be able to celebrate
that with this exciting event.
Dr Paul Long, Deputy Course Director in the Department of Media
and Education at UCE said they were delighted to support the event
and were looking forward to a lively and successful 48 hours.
"This event will both celebrate Charles Parker's work and
legacy - and the traditions of documentary theatre, film and radio
to which he contributed - and the first 30 years of Banner Theatre.
Charles Parker was a founder member of Banner Theatre and this event
will give us the chance to mark the contribution he made and the
continuing importance of the challenging and entertaining performances
developed by Banner throughout their long and successful history."
Over the years, Banner has attracted support and praise from throughout
the labour and trade union movement, as well as from the worlds
of theatre, music and art. Tony Benn, for example, a longstanding
supporter, has described Banner as " An inspiration to everyone
who believes in social justice and peace," and NATFHE General
Secretary, Paul Mackney, described their performances as "
First class songs and satire rooted in the experience of ordinary