Culture, On Stage, Struggles, Workers

Theatre of working class inspiration

A new version of the theatrical work “The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists” will be performed this coming 27th November. The book is considered to be a classic of working class literature.


inspiración obrera 3Robert Tressell, born in the year 1870 and who died in 1911, is the pen name of Robert Croker, an Irish writer famous for being the author of “The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists”, a classic work of theatrical comedy of the Edwardian period.

Tressell, the illegitimate son of Samuel Croker, a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, was baptised and brought up as a Roman Catholic by his mother but when he was 16 he left his family and began to develop revolutionary, Marxist and socialist ideas.

These ideas are reflected in his most well-known book “The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists”, a manuscript of 1600 pages, which was rejected by three publishing houses before being published in 1914, three years after his death from tuberculosis.

The plot of the text focuses on a socialist society where work is carried out to satisfy the needs of all rather than generating profits for the few.

inspiración obrera 1It tells the story of a group of painters and decorators who are joined by the artist Owen and deals with themes such as the dishonesty of capitalism, the socialist vision, exploitation in the workplace and inequality in society.

A hundred years later, a new version of this classic of working-class literature, directed by Louise Townsend, will be performed in London on Wednesday 27th November in the Bussey building/CLF Art Cafe.

UK - Stephen Lowe's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists directed by Louise Townsend at Assembly as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.With some critics being very positive and qualified by the Times Review as “Tremendous … with brio, humour and some great songs” and “A strong and robust show that brings the characters, humour and inspirational ideas of this great book to life. It is needed now more than ever. You’ll leave the theatre and join the struggle” by Ken Loach. The play is being sponsored by the RMT, Wales TUC, Unite, GMB, NASUWT, TUC, PCS, UCATT and ACCORD.

Date and venue: Wednesday, 27 November. 7:30pm in the Bussey building/CLF Art Cafe, 133 Rye Lane, London SE15 4ST, United Kingdom

For more information visit the website.


(Translated by Martin Relph – Email:

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