“Factories may no longer be the masters and men the means. Let the factories be servants of decent living; And let the soul of man conquer factories.”
The Machine Wreckers was Toller’s third play and was first produced by Max Reinhardt in 1922 during the politically volatile days of the Weimar republic. It received its first professional stage production in Britain in 1923 in a production which included Raymond Massey in the cast. It was staged in Russia, Poland, France and the United States and became a favourite piece for the British Workers Theatre Movement.
The play dealt with automation and the introduction of new industrial machinery with the redundancy of men and women and with child labour. It was set in 1815 during the Luddite rebellion in Nottingham. It spoke the passionate rhetoric of left-wing propaganda of the 1930s, and was still a potent image for our industrial society of the time.
The Machine Wreckers was presented in conjunction with the Goethe-Institut as part of their Seventies Meet the Twenties Festival.
Dave Hill was involved with Half Moon from the age of ten. He first helped out with stage management but was later given an opportunity to act in their production of The Machine Wreckers. Here he talks to Alexia-Pyrrha Ashford about the play and how he was helped by the actor Denis Lawson. Interviewed by Alexia-Pyrrha Ashford.
Loesje Sanders, the Half Moon Theatre Administrator, recalls the set design of The Machine Wreckers. Interviewed by Rosie Vincent.
Actor, Maggie Steed talks about performing in The Machine Wreckers at Half Moon Theatre on Alie Street. She recalls the amazing set designed by Mick Bearwish. She recalls having to start the play hiding in a net which hung above the stage and worrying she might fall asleep. Interviewed by Kavana Joyett.
Mick Bearwish is a theatre designer who worked on many productions for Half Moon Theatre at Alie Street and on the Mile End Road. He talks about designing and building The Machine Wreckers, which had such a large set that it took 30 people, working in shifts, to build it. Interviewed by Rosie Vincent.