Watch acclaimed poet Degna Stone, poet and playwright Inua Ellams and emerging writers Jodie Russian-Red and Shaun Wilson – both contributors to Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers – respond to Arena’s film about Tony Harrison, Them and Uz, which was first broadcast 35 years ago. Harrison’s story and poetry still resonate clearly in twenty-first century Britain, with widening social inequality and the ever-present north–south divide, themes reflected on in this accompanying new response film.
Award-winning poet Tony Harrison, speaks about sex, love, politics, class warfare, death, all the rituals and performances of our lives. His writing is direct, witty, often angry, expressed in the language and idioms of his northern roots. Above all, his poetry celebrates the working class whilst simultaneously mourning its demise. Arena’s documentary Them and Uz, highlights Harrison’s 1985 adaptation of the medieval English Mystery plays based on the York and Wakefield cycles. The poems are intensely private meditations on his own family life and relationships, and the performance at the Royal National Theatre that year was hailed as ‘the most moving, solemn and joyful theatrical event in London’.
For five days only, New Writing North brings you this thoughtful Arena film from the BBC archives, directed by Nigel Williams. Watch the film here from Sunday 18 October. You can also learn how to start your own personal writing journey with a masterclass from acclaimed non-fiction author Colin Grant.
Your Local Arena is a Lucy Hannah & Speaking Volumes co-production featuring BBC Arena’s film archive. Funded by Arts Council England.