Pitmen paint a moving picture

Mary MacDonald (Helen Sutherland) and Rod Wilkinson (George Brown)
Mary MacDonald (Helen Sutherland) and Rod Wilkinson (George Brown)

The funny and moving tale of a group of coal miners who learned about art by taking up painting is the subject of the Loft Theatre’s next production.

The Pitmen Painters tells the story of The Ashington Group, largely made up of coal miners, who first came together in 1934 through the Workers’ Educational Association to study ‘something different’ - art appreciation.

In an effort to understand what it was all about, their tutor Robert Lyon encouraged them to learn by actually producing their own paintings. The outcome was fascinating, capturing every aspect of life in and around their mining community, and receiving national recognition.

Inspired by William Feaver’s book about the group, Lee Hall has produced a funny yet moving play that brings to life this group of blunt, outspoken Geordie miners.

Director William Wilkinson, himself a Geordie, has bought together a cast of experienced Loft actors that includes Gus MacDonald, Rod Wilkinson, Tom O’Connor, Phil Reynolds and Mary MacDonald. They are joined by Connor Bailey and newcomers Danny Loveridge and Lydia Brickland.

William said: “The story of miners discovering art may not at first sound promising, but not only is it exceedingly promising, it is truly inspirational, whilst at the same time hitting us repeatedly with laugh after laugh.

“This is a play about people I grew up amongst, worked amongst, have a fellow feeling for, and it is one of the finest, richest, most enjoyable pieces of writing I have encountered in decades.”

The Pitmen Painters runs at The Loft, Victoria Colonnade, Leamington from Wednesday May 27 to Saturday June 6, with a performance each evening at 7.30pm (except Sunday). Visit www.loft-theatre.co.uk or call ling 0844 493 4938.