In 1910 the women chain makers of Cradley Heath focussed the world’s attention on the plight of Britain’s low-paid women workers involved in the ‘home-working sweated industries’, as they hammered out chain-links in sheds in the backyards of their homes with their babies and children for 5 shillings (25p) for a 50-hour week.
Led by the charismatic union organiser and campaigner Mary Reid Macarthur, hundreds of women laid down their tools to strike for a living wage. The success of the ten-week strike more than doubled their earnings and helped to make the principle of a national minimum wage a reality.
Through rousing traditional songs and moving ballads, Townsend Theatre Productions' powerful folk opera Rouse, Ye Women tells the story of Macarthur’s stunning national campaign, the sympathy she inspired for the workers, and the events that led to a final victory.
Clare Brennan at the Observer called the show "a powerful story, powerfully told."