PLAYS 15 -16 years

One and Eight a Day

This play, commissioned by Ringmer Community College, formed part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. Entitled 'One and Eight A Day' the play is set in 1830 and centres round events known as 'The Swing Riots' - uprisings in the south by labouring men, protesting against poor pay and working conditions.

Their main technique of revolt was to set fire to hayricks and barns and destroy threshing machines. Before such actions were undertaken, a letter would be sent to the farmer or landowner, demanding better wages and an end to threshing machines. Mayhem would ensue if these demands were not met. Such letters were signed 'Captain Swing' - supposedly after the action of men threshing the corn with their flails.

I have titled the play 'One and Eight A Day' as this is the daily rate which labourers in Ringmer in East Sussex were paid and about which they were incensed. They demanded 2/6 a day. Some historians believe this dissatisfaction with their pay to be the underlying and main reason for all the revolts.

My play starts in Jamaica. A private in the army is accused and found guilty of cowardice. He is flogged and drummed out of the regiment. He vows revenge on the sergeant he believes is responsible for his punishment.

Once the sergeant has left the army, he goes back to Sussex to find work on the land. There he is followed by Private Ford who sets about plotting Sergeant Wells's downfall.

Towards the end of the play, Mr Wells has been 'set up' and accused of intended arson. The song 'Send Him Down' deals with the whole court scene in one go. As each accuser levels his charge against our hero, he responds by pleading his innocence.

In Sussex alone, 9 men were sentenced to death, and over three hundred sentenced to deportation following the 'Swing Riots', yet this violent and fairly recent part of our history is not widely known. The play received its premiere on 9th July 2008.

Age Range: 15-16 years

Duration: Approx 90 minutes

Cast: 30+

Number of Songs: 7


Please enquire Copy of the script

Please enquire CD of songs

Please enquire Piano score


Send him Down (mp3) The Court Scene