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Carran’s Working Diary 10: The House That Jack Built



The clock at Gressenhall Workhouse

Bell and Clock Gressenhall

When I booked the African Drummer through the Commonwealth Institute for my drama classes in 1987, it didn’t cost anything. It was paid for by the common wealth. When I booked the Belgrade Theatre-In-Education company for my drama classes in 1988, it didn’t cost anything. It was paid for by Coventry City Council who paid the wages of the theatre group through a grant they gave to the theatre that was dished out to the company every year. It was paid for by public money. When I began making theatre in 1989 and I toured my piece around secondary and primary schools in Coventry and Birmingham, I paid for it myself out of my savings from the wages I had earned teaching drama that was paid for by Coventry City Council who raised revenue from the government and the council tax. It was paid for by public money. When I toured that work it was paid for by some department in the school who persuaded the head of their department to take the money from a budget that was fixed by the head of the school who was given money by the council who had raised the revenue from the government according to the number of people who were in the schools which was paid for by the income tax that working people including me had paid from the wages they had earned doing the tasks they were paid to do. It was paid for by public money.

What goes around comes around and the money changes hands like in Monopoly or in Game of Life. Some people buy the cheap streets and flood them with hotels while others buy Park Lane and Mayfair and manage a green house or two. It took a while to learn that the best profit would come by putting hotels on Park Lane and Mayfair and murdering the poor unsuspecting players who landed there and couldn’t pay,  like with the bedroom tax today maybe.

Version of Snakes and Ladders

Game of Life


10.41 – battery runs out on computer and I have promised myself not to plug in but to work physically while it charges so that I don’t procrastinate with the making theatre bit. You see it’s hard doing this project on your own without the riches of a writer, a designer, a director and so on. Like it was…..in the old days.

Yoga and try to integrate with voice


Stretch and strength




A song comes to mind

What can I give him?

And The Dig version

Then I move in collaboration with the chair

I worry the chair

The worrying song begins

I record it

I find

To be a Pilgrim

Then Sing a Rainbow

Then back to Pilgrim

Then it’s the Bleak Mid Winter

I sing as the duchess like Margaret suggested.

I record it.

Words like poor as I am, master, sustain, hold,

I cannot sing the words “give my heart”

I try it with she instead of he for the pilgrim

I think of a woman and a poor person doing what a master says.

I think of Jesus the master and the destitute one born in a stable:  an example for us all to follow. So what about the ones who don’t live in stables?

12.15pm Drink water and write up

Learn some songs from Poverty Knock

knocker ups, nailers, carpet makers and collier lasses

1.20pm break Soup pea and ham and bread and water.

Check student feedback forms for devising module

Check emails

2.20pm Finnegan beginagain

Note to self – don’t forget the Engels quote

Singing again

Read intro to Working Songs.

3.30 back to writing from the yellow markers in Glimpses into the Abyss (1906) by Mary Higgs

4.45 photocopy the large bits

5pm pack away and plan for tomorrow:

Word list

Must review all material

Must collate text including songs and singsongs I am getting to know

Start to kneed in disparate materials e.g. the testimony of the collier lass with personal poverty testimony I wrote  today

Must review accompanying tracks in list

Must edit Tattingstone, Stowmarket, Bentley visit

Check work plan as follows in extract:

Use as a basis for work the rest of this week

Working on the Show

  • Transcribe DAY 1 AND 2 √
  • Day 3 movement Working With Building Plans, √
  • Thresholds (Day Three) √
  • Write come on it’s on the house song and Public Money and the song from DAY 5 √
  • Get songs to sing (collection – Christmas in the workhouse and also the working songs book)
  • Transcribe DAY 4 the concert
  • Day 5
  • Learn Christmas in the Workhouse
  • Etymology of poor and pauper and common
  • Ensure you know the other names of the porter helpers for the box office/admin person
  1. edit tattingstone, Bentley, Stowmarket note only pics of Bentley
  1. edit film on walking abstract that footage of my feet
  1. make photo slide show of pics from research
  1. get lexden and winstree workhouse book

    Courtyard of Gressenhall Workhouse

    Gressenhall Workhouse, Norfolk

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