Film ID:
NEFA 22423



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This documentary by Ian Krause documents the women of Easington during and after the 1984 miners strike as they work with playwright Margaret Pine to help write the play "The Last Coal of Spring" about their experiences during the dispute. The film follows them as they work with a theatre director and includes footage of the miners' strike in Easington, Arthur Scargill speaking, women working in food kitchens and the parade at Durham Miners Gala.

Title: Not By Bread Alone – A video by Ian Krause

Title: In November 1984, a playwright moved into strike-bound Easington.

This is the story of the next twelve months….

Speaking at a women’s meeting the chair asks for order. She explains that the group meeting is to discuss the establishment of a theatre company. The speaker is Margaret Pine and she goes on to explain that she is a professional writer who will produce a script for the theatre project and professional director Nobby Diamond will also be involved. Various close-ups of the women’s faces, as Pine goes on to explain the project further. Piles of plastic carrier bags are set aside at each side of a large room laid out with chairs and tables. The women carry on with their meeting in one corner.

The women who are now wearing aprons prepare vegetables in kitchens.

Margaret Pine speaks on camera. The women serve cooked meals to striking miners standing in a queue. A close-up shows the food being put on the plates the men are holding. Margaret Pine continues in voiceover speaking about her relationship with the local people involved with the project. She continues on camera explaining how she got to know the women providing the emergency food, by helping them in the kitchen. She says it provided a valuable source of material for the new play.

National Union of Miners leader Arthur Scargill standing in front of a trade union banner giving a speech. He speaks of the hardships families are facing, stressing the enduring support of women during the strike. The audience in the meeting hall applaud.

A woman speaks on camera about a meeting of local women who, three weeks into the miners’ strike, came to the decision to provide meals for the striking miners. Another woman on camera takes up the story, of how the demand for meals grew.

The view changes to women working in a kitchen to prepare food for striking miners.

Margaret Pine on camera continues her narrative regarding the women involved with the kitchen, outlining that many of the women are also involved in local political meetings and have attended demonstrations.

Over a view of miners marching on Gala day with a union banner down a street in Durham City, Margaret Pine continues with her story. Closer views of the marchers show some of the women involved with the kitchen participating in the parade. They walk past the County Hotel where political leaders from the Labour party applaud the passing crowd. The marchers continue down the street.

On the old racecourse where the traditional speeches will be given, three of the women from the kitchen group chat to labour MP for Sedgefield Tony Blair who writes down notes in a small book.

On camera, Margaret Pine outlines how the personal interests of the women have expanded to include political interests and how aspects of the strike are reported by the media.

The film cuts to the front cover of ‘The Last Coals of Spring’ – Poems, Stories & Songs by the women of Easington Colliery. A group of women look through the pages of the book.

Margaret Pine continues on screen with her assessment of the theatre project with the women’s group.

One of the women continues with her views. She outlines how the idea of providing food to the community has expanded to something more political.

The scene changes to Easington on a rather dull, murky day and a view of the winding wheels of a pit head in the distance beyond some terraced housing. Two policeman are walking along a street. The camera picks out graffiti on a wall which reads ‘Scargill Rules’: a vandalised telephone box stands nearby. In voiceover a woman describes how the relationship with local police has deteriorated.

Footage of the miners dispute in Easington follows. A group of men gather in a street. A group of about a dozen policemen march along a street towards the camera. A man walks his dog past some men gathering at a street corner. The film cuts back to the large group of policemen.The police form a line as a coach appears in the distance, the windscreen is protected by a metal screen and in front a police transit van escorts the coach. Both vehicles drive along the street towards the camera. Another escort vehicle follows the coach bussing in strikebreakers and all three vehicles pass the gathering of men and police. The men shout at the coach as it passes by.

A woman describes an event involving police and workers, which she tried to report to a national newspaper, but with no success.

At night policemen are standing behind perspex shields, and wearing protective headgear. An escorted coach arrives at Easington pit and is greeted by angry shouts of protest from the men on the picket line as the coach enters the colliery gates. The picket line and police cordon disperse.

The film cuts to another coach, and the women associated with the emergency kitchen, and Margaret Pine the writer join in with chants of protest on the coach as it goes through the Tyne Tunnel.

General view of the busy foyer of Newcastle City Hall.

Title: Newcastle, Jan. 1985.

On stage, a woman at a microphone introduces the main speaker, a leading figure in the Miners’ Wives Support Group, Mrs Betty Heathfield.

Betty Heathfield addresses the audience, outlining the current state and successes of the strike. She adds her support for the strike and urges the union members and mining communities not to weaken in their resolve.  An enthusiastic round of applause follows her speech.

On stage a woman sings a song. Still photographs showing aspects of the miner’s strike appear between views of the audience listening to the song. Other members of the theatre group sing some other songs. The camera pulls back to show the stage set. The audience start clapping along with the singers. The singers join hands on stage and sing along with the audience. The audience gets to its feet as they sing and clap ‘We Will Win’.

One of the group involved with the miners’ wives kitchen ponders on the length of time they can keep going. Another woman supports her colleague’s comments. The group of women talk about the peaks and troughs they feel in themselves in order to continue and how they support each other.

The film cuts to Arthur Scargill and his speech.

Title: ’The end of the strike March 1985’

A banner for the Easington lodge of the National Union of Mineworkers is held aloft. A group mineworkers look down from a wall on the proceedings. A close-up follows showing a baby asleep in a pram. Copies of the newspaper ‘Militant’ lie on the pram's cover. The women associated with the miners’ kitchen sing outside Easington Colliery. Workmen arrive by coach to go into the colliery. They are greeted by applause by the women and others standing near the colliery entrance.

In the street a woman has her photograph taken holding her baby. The Easington Lodge banner is taken down. A close-up shows the Tyne Tees Television logo on a camera as they film the group of women being interviewed.

Inside a working men’s club, a man ( director Nobby Diamond?) speaks to the women involved with the theatre group. He is proposing a meeting to start on the new project, by getting together in an informal way and doing some acting exercises.

The director instructs the women in particular roles and exercises. One of the first is an exercise in exploring the structure of each other’s faces by touch. They then have to try and identify each other based on what they have remembered by touch. Another exercise involves members of the group standing face to face and following each other’s movements as if looking in a mirror. He then talks to the group about acting and how to work towards a more naturalistic way of performing, as the camera picks out different faces within the group.

Margaret Pine the writer is also attending the group exercise, and she describes the sort of script she will be working on. The film cuts to a broader view of the group sitting in the club lounge listening to Pine.

Outside, a brass band is playing in a street. A group of people stand around and listen. Some others pass by holding aloft the Easington Lodge NUM banner.

A group of miner’ cross Elvet Bridge in Durham holding another plain white banner which has the words ‘ Easington’s Victimised Miners’ printed on it.

On the balcony of the County Hotel, the leaders of the Labour Party including Neil Kinnock stand watching the miner’s gala parade. The women from the theatre group dance on the street outside. The crowds in the parade wait to move on, they pass the County Hotel and wave to the Labour Party leaders. The women march along the street with the crowds. The crowds make their way to the old race course. Amongst the crowds, banners are held aloft.

Back in Durham city centre women hold aloft a banner which reads ‘Durham Miners Support Groups – The More They Suppress Us; The More United They’ll Find Us’. They stand in the centre of other groups with banners as they prepare to march. The women move off accompanied by applause from the crowd.

A group of four women from the Easington support group approach a large three storey building. They are seen climbing some stairs and entering a room. The women are shown some loose pages from a book and pages of sheet music. A pile of the items show the cover of the book or script which is ‘The Last Coals of Spring – Poems, Stories & Songs by the women of Easington Colliery.’The group start cutting items from the pages laid out before them and then glue them onto card. They sit at a table, and one of them begins reading out loud from one of the cards. The other women listen intently, as the text, shown in close-up, outlines stories of hardship miners families have endured.

The film cuts to a view of a street in Easington with terraced houses at either side. A young boy plays with a tennis racket in the road. Next a view of some common land in front of a row of terraced houses. A solitary horse stands on the grass. Inside the working men's club, the director of the theatre group is talking to the members. Margaret Pine gathers some sheets of printed paper: this is her script for the group. Members of the group pick up completed copies of the script from a nearby table. Every member of the group is given a script as the director explains that they should not feel intimidated by the words on the page as many professional actors struggle with the presentation of a new script. They should take their time in reading it. The working title is ‘Land of Hope’. The director outlines the setting of the production as outlined in the script. The director instructs members of the group to read different parts.

The film cuts to a street scene with cars parked near terraced houses. The theatre group enter a community hall. The director has gathered everyone together for a rehearsal. However, he begins by asking the group the whereabouts of some key members who haven’t appeared. He then talks to the group about voice projection.

The group stand in a circle and one woman steps forward to deliver her lines. The director instructs the others in their roles, as the girl continues reciting her lines from memory.

The theatre group bring props into a building taking the items up some stairs. Margaret Pine the scriptwriter is in attendance at this dress rehearsal at a hall. The members of the group prepare themselves for the rehearsal, some copying down notes, others getting into costume. The director explains to the group that they have just over a week until their opening night and rehearsal time is tight. They will have to rehearse without the script at hand but they will be prompted if they need to be.

The group begin their rehearsal. A woman delivers her lines in front of a line of other actors who hold up placards which reflect the grievances of the miners. The script is timed by someone holding a stopwatch, other members of the group watch the rehearsal.

The community hall is set out with chairs for the audience. People arrive and hand over tickets which have the final name of the production printed on them, ‘Not by Bread Alone’.

The director goes through some final points with the performers. The performers try to calm each other down and give each other support. The audience settle in their seats. The play begins with a banner being paraded onto the stage, and other cast members carrying placards and singing the ‘Red Flag’. Then the dialogue begins.

Title: The play successfully toured the North, as well as London and Germany. The placement was run by the Artist’s Agency.

Title: Supported By Northern Arts