Rap gig theatre coming to Washington
16 August 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan
A rap retelling of the last Luddite uprising comes to Arts Centre Washington on 6 September.
Jack Dean’s Jeremiah tells the story of Jeremiah Brandreth, an out of work stocking maker from Nottinghamshire who led the Luddites’ final act, the Pentrich Rising, and was the last man to be beheaded in the history of Britain.
The Luddite movement spanned the whole North of England, had more British soldiers fighting it than fought against Napoleon and made the destruction of machinery a capital offence. Dean tells the story through the life of Brandreth and the parallel tale of the government spy who betrayed him, William J Oliver.
Jack Dean and a three-piece band bring this little remembered story to life as a live music gig. A cellist, violinist and guitarist work with loop pedals to create an original score that mixes hip-hop, shoe gaze and cinematic composition styles, while Dean delivers a true tale exploring lots of characters in rap verse. An AV design is projected onto the stage, alongside creative captioning to help both all audience members access the show’s fast-paced delivery of 13,000 words.
“When I started researching the Luddite Rebellion and the Pentrich Rising,” Dean said, “I couldn’t believe that such a tumultuous moment in British history goes relatively un-talked-about.
“Here was a time when a government was fighting a wholesale revolt against capitalism itself, deploying battalions of troops and a small army of spies and informers to quash it. We tend to think of the constitutional and political structure of England as something very solid (at least until recently), but here was a time when an enormous field of ideas of how we might live together were being considered, and many were ready to take enormous personal risks to try and make them reality.
“The medium of hip-hop for the music of the show came more naturally than might be thought—these revolts and revolutions were built on a bedrock of contemporary folk song, so a modern retelling sits perfectly within the folk music of the modern age."