Ahead of appearing at Trinity Theatre in Tunbridge Wells on March 23, seasoned stand-up Mark Thomas tells the Times all about his latest show The Red Shed
ANYONE who has seen my shows Bravo Figaro or Cuckooed will know that they are a mix of theatre and stand-up. The Red Shed, which is the final part of this trilogy, is set in the actual Red Shed – a Socialist shed in Wakefield – and is about how my mates try and help me find a memory.
It was the place where I came of age politically as a student involved with the miners’ strike. It is a place I have always gone back to, and I still have friends and comrades there. It is, in many ways, a talisman for me. So this story is about the mining communities and the Left – Labour, and what happened to those communities. It is a play or a monologue – depending on your point of view – but it is funny and original.
Being a socialist club, and being in the politically-charged environment and community at the time, it was only natural I would get involved. It was odd because one day I’d be at college in a leotard representing the wind in The Tempest, and the next I’d be taking part in a march.
Labour clubs like the Red Shed have always been important to communities that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of.
I hope I’ve created something people have not seen before, which is original in the telling of working-class stories and their importance.
The thing I enjoyed most in creating this performance was hanging out with friends, and talking to people I was on nodding terms with, about their amazing stories. Everyone in the club has done something remarkable. The chap who
collects pots, and always turns up to help move chairs, told me about his involvement in the 1972 builders’ strike, amazing.
People often ask what made me want to become a comedian, and I reply it was the only thing I could think of doing that didn’t involve physical labour or extensive study!
In terms of how I describe my comedy, I would say it’s a mix between stand-up, theatre, journalism and activism. You will not see stuff like this on TV any more.
Comedy is one of the few places where freedom of speech allows us to say what we want, indeed it encourages us and expects us to do that.
Mark Thomas is performing at Trinity Theatre on Thursday March 23 at 8pm. Tickets cost from £16 and can be bought at www.trinitytheatre.net