The Work: Plays

The Nottingham Captain

1962, 'A Moral for Narrator, Voices and Orchestra'


Speeches by Byron, Castlereagh, and Jeremy Bentham set a scene of industrial unrest and threatening rebellion in the early nineteenth century. The action concerns the government's employment of OLIVER, an agent provocateur, to incite a pathetically ill-organised but potentially effective uprising. Three leaders, including the so-called Nottingham Captain, Jeremiah Brandreth, are hanged for treason.

Two version of this work - one in the jazz idiom (music composed by Dave Lee) and one in the classical idiom (music composed by the late Wilfred Josephs) - were performed at the festivals in a double-bill with Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale', directed by Colin Graham.


"You call these men a mob, desperate, dangerous and ignorant; and seem to think that the only way to quiet them is to lop off a few of their superfluous heads. But even a mob may be better reduced to reason by a mixture of conciliation and firmness than by additional irritation and redoubled penalties. Are we aware of our obligations to a mob? It is the mob that labour in your fields and serve in your houses, that man your navy, and recruit your army, that have enabled you to defy all the world, and can also defy you when neglect and calamity have driven them to despair.."

A documentary prepared at short notice - because the commissioned writer failed to produce a script - for the Centre Fortytwo Festivals in 1962. Opened at the first festival in Wellingborough on 11 September.