At a time of political and social turbulence and amid the bustle and grit of everyday life at Chatham Dockyard in the 19th century, three men of great importance meet in the Commissioners House…’
We made history today by holding our first ever play in the Commissioner’s House ballroom.
The play, “A Chatham Conversation” written by JD Douglas (writer of Black Heroes and JA Story), explores the diverse voices from the Age of Sail and the lesser heard take on the lives of 19th Century Dockyard workers.
It was an eye opening 45 minutes of history that brought the political and social climate of the mid-19th century centre stage. This included highlighting rules and regulations of the time that seem ridiculous and archaic to our modern ears… women having to use separately signed entrances, workers accepting poor conditions and late payment of their wages and employers’ racial discrimination. The characters set these issues out against the backdrop of an industrialising country and a Dockyard that should be at the height of productivity but for workers going on strike.
In the play Charles Bullen – the Commissioner of the Dockyard and the man in charge, is seeking assistance from two significant men of the time – Chartist, local hero and Union Leader William Cuffay and Abolitionist, former slave and latter day writer, Olaudah Equiano. It was great to see the different personalities come to life in the performance and to see the audience chuckling along and acknowledging the struggles the men had dealt with in their lifetime.
There is still time to see this fantastic performance – tomorrow there are two showings – 11:00-11:30 for annual ticket holders free of charge and an evening performance for non annual ticket holders, which is separately ticketed, showing at 18:30-19:00. Tickets cost just £6 – please speak to the team at the welcome desk upon arrival to book your space! *limited numbers!
The play is produced by Robeson Productions and has come to life with the help of The Historic Dockyard Chatham and Medway African Caribbean Association.