Mark Thomas brings the Red Shed to the Theatre Royal

Mark Thomas outside The Red Shed.
Mark Thomas outside The Red Shed.

Comedian and activist Mark Thomas brings his story of strikes, fights, dinner ladies, beer and pickets back to Wakefield later this year.

The show, which premiered last year, was inspired by the 50th anniversary of Wakefield Labour Club. Fondly referred to as The Red Shed, (it’s an old red-painted army hut) it has stood in Vicarage Street, a little-known backwater in the centre of the city, for half a century.

In that time it has played its part in any number of historic political battles – not least the year-long miners’ strike of 1984-85.

It was also where the young Mark Thomas, a student at nearby Bretton Hall college, sharpened his wit and developed his political conscience. It was also where he came across the Labour Club for the first time.

“Sitting on the Trades Council we came across real people talking about real struggles that affected ordinary, everyday people’s lives.

“It became a social club for me, as well as a political club and was the first place I performed in public, the first place where anyone paid to hear me do stand-up.

“We’d write sketches during the day about what was going on politically and then perform them that night. We had one in particular, Jack Smart’s Flying Circus, which was named after the leader of Wakefield council who was responsible for forcing through swingeing cuts to social care, that went down a storm.

“The Red Shed is fantastic. By its very nature it should only have been a temporary structure, yet it has stood in the same place for 50 years – largely unchanged.”

Part theatre, stand up, journalism and activism, The Red Shed is the story of the battle for hope and the survival of a community in a small wooden shed.

The Red Shed, Theatre Royal Wakefield, September 23. For tickets call the box office on 01924 311211 or online at www.theatreroyalwakefield.co.uk