A Musical Play by Les Emmans. © 2002 Les Emmans
Scene 1. (The cast dressed as 19th century workers is arranged in small groups placed at various points around the sides of the acting area. Centre stage there is a small cottage table set for a simple meal. Brandreth and his wife are seated at the table. They stay frozen and unlit for the opening.)
At the end of the overture the worker groups are lit in silhouette and sing:
THE SONG OF THE OPPRESSSED
My heavy load and burden dread will bear m down until I’m dead.
Where comes release? What shaft of light can reach to cheer my darkest night?
The need to eat, the need to sleep, fill all my mind and being.
My voice is weak, the oppressor's strong.
Together with this sorry throng my hopes will go unheeded and unsung.
Silhouette lighting fades. Brandreth and wife are brightly illuminated. Groups remain perfectly still.
Brandreth. Just a bite of cheese and bread with half a cup of ale to wash it down!
Not much to sustain a man on his way to battle. I wager Wellington fared better than this before Waterloo!
(Ann looks concerned and, pushes her plate towards him.)
Ann. Take mine, my love.
B. (Pushing it back) Nay, you must take care of yourself and the unborn child.
(Straightening himself fiercely.) We may have little to eat today, but soon
we will dine on Newcastle's venison and drink from the best of his cellar!
Ann. Jerry! I fear for you. Brave words won't make it happen.
B. Our cause is just and our plans well set. We cannot fall!
A. But why must you go to Pentrich? You don't know them there.
B. I know Thomas Bacon well enough and he is a fine man. He has led them well!
A. Then why doesn't he lead them into battle?
B. We have orders that no man may lead his own so that there will be no favouritism.
Besides, he is under threat of arrest.
A. But you said that Mr Wain was to lead the Pentrich group.
Why have you been chosen at this late time to take his place?
B. Wain is very sick, and cannot be relied upon to see the enterprise successfully completed.
A. I would feel safer if you marched with your friends here In Nottingham.
Who knows how those villagers will treat you.
B. They are a fine group of men, well dedicated to The Cause.
A. But what about the soldiers at the Nottingham Garrison? You cannot fight them.
B. Ha! That bunch of rabble who needs be kept shut in their barracks
for fear they might embarrass their officers with their bad behaviour.
They had their fill of battle at Waterloo and will soon back away when they see us armed and determined.
A. That may be so, but I hear that constables are being sworn In at Ripley
and will take you before you can get your band together.
B. Half of them are our own men and the rest will stand aside
when faced with cold steel and the muzzle of a musket!
A. You talk away the perils very easily, but you cannot talk away my fear for your safety.
What is to become of our dear children and me if you are taken?
B. Ann, my love, our life was hard enough when we had the loom and could weave ourselves a living.
Now that the broadlooms have taken away our livelihood,
you know very well that we can barely scratch along on the paltry charity the parish gives us.
(Fiercely) We cannot lead our lives like this any longer. The time is right!
We have fine leaders in London ready with a new government.
We are well organised throughout the land and many thousands will join us in our march on London.
The King's Army is weak after Waterloo.
Lord Liverpool's Government is corrupt, and His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, is a disgrace to the land.
We cannot fail! My love, our cause is just. We cannot and will not fail!
Take heart! You will soon walk proudly on my arm with a full stomach and money in your purse!
A. A fine speech! I can see that no pleas of mine will change your purpose.
I can only hope and pray that you are right and beg God's blessing on your enterprise.
B. Thank you my love. Amen to that!
(He stirs himself.) I'm afraid we must soon say our farewells.
The sun has been up some tine now and it is a good five hours walk to Pentrich.
I must not be late for our first meeting.
A. I can see that you are set in your purpose.
I will pack you food and drink for the Journey.
(She takes a bag, places items in it and hands it to B. who takes it without enthusiasm.)
A. (Taking up a scarf.) See here! Take my scarf to keep out the chill breeze that blows over my heart.
(She lovingly wraps it round his neck and embraces him in the process.)
Take care, my love. Come safely home to me
B. (He pulls away as soon as would be consistent with a man preoccupied with a great enterprise.)
Thank you, my love.
Do not fret. I shall be home again in a few days with great news for us all.
Goodbye! (He kisses her.) Farewell! God bless you and the children. (He hurries off stage.)
Farewell my love, God’s will be done.
God keep thee safe ‘till battle’s done.
The oppressor’s sword must not prevail.
The righteous cause must win the day, must win the day.
Farewell my love, my own dear love.
Our hopes, our dreams, rest safe with thee.
My fears, my tears, I hide away.
My will is strong, my heart is true, my heart is true.
End of scene.
Click here for scene 2