Exactly 200 years – almost to the minute – after the 15th Hussars, sabres drawn, charged a crowd of 60,000 men women and children gathered in Manchester’s St Peter’s Field, the names of the victims will be read close to the spot where they died.
The story of the Peterloo Massacre, which unfolded on 16th August 1819, will be embraced and remembered on Friday, 16th August 2019 when communities from Greater Manchester and far beyond gather on the site of St Peter’s Field for a major anniversary event.
Highlights of the day’s programme will be three performances of From the Crowd, a moving, interactive production reflecting the events of two centuries ago and their legacy, not just in Manchester but around the world.
Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Manchester City Council, it is directed by Evie Manning and musically directed by Robin Richards.
The eyewitness accounts of those present at Peterloo 1819 and the words of contemporary protestors and poets have been woven together to create a powerful piece that, with no spectators, only participants, will come ‘from the crowd’.
Collectively they will voice a picture of what happened on 16 August 1819 and the change people want to happen in 2019.
“From the Crowd is a dialogue between 1819 and 2019,” says creative director Evie.
“In it the words will journey between solo voices, 200 people speaking together and 800 voices strong in unison.
“The piece explores the power of the crowd, the sense of the unexpected and the galvanising solidarity that manifests when people are together as one. We’ll be remembering those that protested and lost their lives at Peterloo and those whose lives today are affected by different oppressions.”
Karen Shannon, CEO of organisers Manchester Histories, says, “The Peterloo Massacre is a globally significant milestone in the history of democracy that also set Manchester’s path as a radical city of progress, change and where equality is championed.
“In From the Crowd we’ll see echoes of the themes that continue to see Manchester’s voice leading conversations on the global issues of today. But most importantly it will be a poignant occasion in remembrance of those that led the way in achieving some of the rights that we have today, a reminder that change and progress take time, but can be achieved.”
The three performances, each an hour long, will be staged at 12.30pm, 5.30pm and 8pm on the forecourt of the Manchester Central exhibition centre between the former station and the Midland Hotel.
Tickets for From the Crowd are free and available via fromthecrowd.eventbrite.co.uk, though tickets for the 12.30 performance – after which the names of the Peterloo dead will be read as 18 bells ring out across the city – are already sold out.
The day will also be punctuated with song, poetry, choirs and more in the form of Rebel Karaoke. No tickets are required.
Also on the Friday, a Peterloo Picnic is taking place at HOME from 2pm. It will be a free event for all the family featuring food, music and a line up of performances.
In the evening, Art Battle Mcr features a Peterloo special, as painters, illustrators, tattooists and street artists go head to head in an art spectacular at Manchester Art Gallery from 7pm. Tickets are £15.
Saturday 17th August will see a march to the site of St Peter’s Field from surrounding towns.
On Sunday 18th August, as well as film screenings of Peterloo taking place at HOME with a Mike Leigh Q&A, a Peterloo Picnic in the Park will be held at Tandle Hill Country Park in Oldham from midday.
For further information on the full programme for the Peterloo 2019 Anniversary Weekend, click below.