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Protest Song writer speaks about the ‘wonderful’ Occupy camp

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Issue 2384
Rhys Ifans as Danny

Rhys Ifans as Danny (Pic: Kwame Lestrade)

Two years after the Occupy camp at St Paul’s cathedral, playwright Tim Price is taking it to the stage in Protest Song.

Tim told Socialist Worker, “I just thought 2011 was an extraordinary year, with Wikileaks, the Arab Spring, the Occupy protests. It was proving that not only could manufacturing and finance be globalised, but morality too.

“I was inspired to see dictators being toppled and vested interests being exposed.”

At the time Tim was writing his popular play The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, about the US whistleblower.

“Through that I met activists who were involved in Occupy so I decided to go down to the camp at St Paul’s,” he said. “I went to the general assemblies and some of the lectures in tents.”

Protest Song is a monologue from Danny, a homeless man played by actor Rhys Ifans. 

“Danny is fictional, but based on a number of true stories,” said Tim. “There are lots of rough sleepers in the Square Mile financial area—it’s a non-residential area, so it’s quite peaceful at night.

“And when the camp turned up something wonderful happened. These people who had been marginalised found themselves treated as equals.”

The last two years have been more difficult for the movements that blossomed in 2011. But Tim is optimistic.

“As a storyteller I build worlds where you can see the relationship between cause and effect. We’re living in this story, so it’s harder to see what will happen,” he said.

“But I am absolutely sure that Occupy has laid the basis for bigger things to come.”

Protest Song, written by Tim Price. Until 11 January, The Shed, National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

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