Power of the Unemployed


“Power of the Unemployed”, is a play about the poor underclass rising up during Newfoundland’s darkest years in the 1930s. It is a great labour history of St. John’s, NL.

The Great Depression of the 1930s was a time of desperation for millions of people in North America. In Newfoundland, where a democratic government was replaced by a British-controlled commission, the thousands of people living on the dole had no where to turn. As the situation worsened, a voice arose amongst the poor. Pierce Power, a firebrand leader of unemployed workers in St. John’s, led a challenge against Newfoundland’s business and political elite.

This play, by Chris Brookes and Kathryn Welbourn, portrays the suspension of responsible government in 1934 as the means through which a tyrannical ruling elite oppressed working-class Newfoundlanders. It was first directed by David Ferry, “Power of the Unemployed” was performed in St. John’s by the Resource Centre for the Arts Theatre Company in May 2001. St. John’s actor Aiden Flynn portrayed Pierce Power. The book was published in 2011.

Chris Brookes is an author, storyteller and independent radio producer whose documentary features have won over forty international awards including the Peabody Award  and the Prix Italia, and have been broadcast around the world. Producer of Battery Radio.

Kathryn Welbourn is a journalist and publisher of The Northeast Avalon Times. She was the editor of Ray Guy: The Smallwood Years.

Boulder’s presentation of Power of the Unemployed is most welcome. Power, which premiered at the Resource Centre for the Arts in 2000, was a good play, and here, makes a good read. The text also includes cast lists, stage directions, descriptions of stagecraft, and appendices of explanatory historical documents, art, song sheets in aid of furthering its production lifespan and outreach.

VOLUME 1 04 NUMBER 1 2011


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