By Nahella Ashraf
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The Condition of the Working Class

This article is over 8 years, 8 months old
So often working class people are told what their lives are like and, in most cases, what's wrong with their lives. Here is a film that shows working class people telling their stories as you rarely see them.
Issue 380

This documentary, The Condition of the Working Class, covers the making of the play of the same name that was shown at Salford Arts Theatre almost a year ago. But this film is more than just a behind the scenes look at how to produce a play. The film shows how a group of people of all ages, many with no acting experience whatsoever, came together to tell the story of their lives in their own words.

The aim of the play was to draw parallels between the lives of working class people in 1844, when Engels wrote The Condition of the Working Class, and working class people today.

The first screening of this documentary coincided with the BBC’s release of the Great British Class Calculator. This film shows the complete disjoin between this establishment attempt to obscure the issue of class and people’s understanding of what it is to be working class today. From the outset the group, talking about their experiences of growing up and living in Salford today, clearly shows how wrong the BBC have got it yet again.

Ken Loach’s film The Spirit of ’45 felt like a story of a bygone age and failed to capture the sense of class consciousness and resistance working class people feel today. In this film, however, the film makers manage to capture not only the anger but also the mood for resistance that exists in Britain today. While watching the film you go from laughing out loud at the wonderful relationships that develop within the group, to tears for the woman talking out trying to keep her shop in Moss Side open for her children against the backdrop of the Asda nearby.

On the opening night everyone left Salford Arts Theatre with a sense of solidarity and understanding of the need to continue the fightback against the ruling class assault. This documentary is not just a look into how a production was brought together, but a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people.

The Condition of the Working Class is directed by Mike Wayne and Deirdre O’Neill and there are screenings throughout May and June, see details at

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