One of Britain’s most successful dramatists has written a play about the aftermath of the miners’ strike that hits very close to home.
John Godber’s play Shafted! comes to Doncaster next week. It tells the story of a couple still trying to put their lives back together 30 years on.
John said: “I’d not seen anything written about what happened after the strike. You could find lots about the strike like Billy Elliot, Brassed Off and several Red Ladder theatre company shows.
“Nobody seemed to be bothered about what happened to those people since 1985. That included my dad’s, sister’s and uncle’s family. I thought it was time to address the corollary of the strike.”
John, who is from the West Yorkshire pit village of Upton, wanted to write about how people in mining areas are still struggling with the economic and personal impact.
“The question of the Northern Powerhouse comes to mind. I’m convinced that we’re still shaking from the tremors of the end of the miners’ strike and that’s what inspired this story.”
Shafted! looks at a miner, Harry, and his wife, Dot, who have daughter and a son and take on various jobs in the years after the strike.
Their marriage teetering on the edge, they move to Bridlington to open a bed and breakfast and are just starting to make it work with Dot’s determined efforts when family dramas force them to move back home.
John said: “There are echoes of how the strike reverberates in their story, like hundreds of thousands of stories.”
He often comes to Sheffield because his daughter’s boyfriend is at Hallam University. “For all the great regeneration that the city has seen, you can’t help but notice the empty shops.
“To me that’s the same all over the North. I guess that’s the same outside the Westminster bubble.”
He added: “The hope is within the spirit of the people. Although they were defeated, despite their conviction that the miners united will never be defeated, they were only defeated on one level.
“They still have that determination and strength and ability to turn their hand to anything. You can’t take that away from them.”
John decided to take on the role beside his wife Jane Thornton because they both felt the story to be so close to home: “I’ll never play Hamlet but I’m a pretty good Yorkshire miner!”
He was so convincing that someone asked his dad which pit John had worked at!
Shafted! is at Cast in Doncaster next Thursday to Saturday. Tickets: Cast in Doncaster or 01302 303959.