The play of the strikes that stopped the nation


SYDNEY — A key episode of Australian trade union and working-class history, the great strikes of the 1890s, will be brought to life when New Theatre stages Reedy River. 2002 is the New Theatre's 70th anniversary year.

In an attempt to offset falling wool prices — and profits — the wealthy landowners launched an attack on the rights and pay of the shearers. The main blow was aimed at the union. The story is set in the shearing sheds following the shearers' strikes.

"What's new? The attacks on the shearers and their union in the 1890s was echoed in the waterfront dispute of the 1990s. The arena may change but the balaclavas and dogs remain the same", director Marie Armstrong noted.

Reedy River will play at the National Folk Festival in Canberra over the Easter weekend and then return to Sydney's New Theatre from April 2-6, at 8pm. The New Theatre is at 542 King Street, Newtown. Tickets cost $22 or $15 concession and union members. Bookings and enquiries can be made at 9519 3403.

From Green Left Weekly, March 27, 2002.
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