Exactly 200 years later communities from across Manchester and beyond are invited to gather on the site of St Peter’s Field Manchester for a cultural event to commemorate those who were killed or injured at The Peterloo Massacre in 1819.
The day-long Peterloo 2019 anniversary event takes place on Friday 16 August and will feature music, song, choirs, and more with a specially created immersive experience From the Crowd at its centre, as a hopeful and moving reflection of where the story of Peterloo began.
Throughout the day there will be a gathering of people in performance, voice and spirit. From the Crowd will see members of the public invited to join in and play their part in the immersive experience that will take place at different times throughout the day.
The eyewitness accounts of those present at Peterloo in 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. At times a single voice will be heard; at times hundreds of voices will amplify the story and charge the atmosphere, all connected to the legacy of Peterloo and what it means today.
The soundscape will be set against a musical score composed and directed by Robin Richards (Dutch Uncles) and will include guest pieces by MC Zani (performed by the Beatbox Collective), Oliver Vibrans and Katie Chatburn.
Helping to lead From the Crowd participants will be 100 people who have volunteered to be ‘Laurels’. The Laurels are a reminder that Peterloo was a peaceful protest, with one group of marchers that made their way to St Peter’s Field from Middleton carrying branches of laurel as a symbol of peace along with their banners that told of their purpose, including 'Liberty and Fraternity' and 'Suffrage Universal'. Amongst those taking on the role of being a Laurel are a number of direct descendants of the 60,000 people present in 1819.
Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Manchester City Council, From the Crowd is directed by Evie Manning (Common Wealth) and musically directed by Robin Richards (Dutch Uncles) who have worked with communities and contributors including the Peterloo Ambassadors, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, These Walls Must Fall, Young Identity and Linda Brogan (playwright and artist).
Evie Manning, From The Crowd’s Creative Director, said: “From the Crowd is a dialogue between 1819 and 2019. 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.”
From the Crowd performances are just one part of the Peterloo 2019 Anniversary Event which will see the site of St Peter’s Field filled with voices, sounds and reflections on the themes of protest, democracy and freedom of speech.
From the Crowd performances take place at 12:30, 5:30 and 8 pm. They will punctuate a day filled with song, poetry, choirs and more in the form of Rebel Karaoke. Streetwise Opera, Aziz Ibrahim, Commoners Choir and hip hop artists from Brighter Sound’s recent DISRUPT residency will be amongst those making Rebel Karaoke performances with more to be announced.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Manchester City Council, said: "The city looks to artists to help us understand the past and to help vision our future.
"The Peterloo Massacre was an important event in Manchester's history and should not be forgotten.
"I hope everyone can join us on the 200th anniversary to take part in the activities planned and to find out more about this watershed moment in Manchester's past."
Karen Shannon, CEO of Manchester Histories, said: “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.”
From the Crowd performances are free of charge but tickets must be booked at https://fromthecrowd.
All of the events taking place on the site of St Peter’s Field on 16 August 2019, including From the Crowd, are being co-produced by Manchester Histories, Manchester City Council, Walk the Plank and Brighter Sound.
For further information on how the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre is being marked across Greater Manchester as part of Peterloo 2019 visit www.Peterloo1819.co.uk