The spirit of Ian Dury is alive and well. Not only is the musical using his songs back out on a national tour, but his old band The Blockheads have written a song exclusively for the show with one of the cast.
Pioneering disabled-led theatre company Graeae has been proud standard-bearers for protest and disability rights for many years.
In conjunction with the final tour of their smash-hit musical Reasons To Be Cheerful, set in 1979 Thatcher’s Britain, Blockheads Chaz Jankel, Derek Hussey and cast member John Kelly have written a protest song for 2017, If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong.
The song is a rallying cry against the current government cuts, specifically the austerity and cuts directed at the deaf and disabled community in the UK and the systematic disintegration of the NHS and the welfare state.
The lyrics reflect back to the era Reasons to be Cheerful is set, when Ian Dury and The Blockheads were dominating the charts.
Chaz says: ‘This is one of the most timely and relevant songs I’ve ever been involved in. The funding cuts are atrocious. The lyrics Derek Hussey has written-with additional input from John Kelly frame the current crisis perfectly. It goes beyond being a pleasure to be part of this project, it’s vital!’
If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong is the fight back towards a society that respects equality, difference, human rights and that celebrates that we actually want to support each other through lifeJohn Kelly
And Derek says: ‘These issues should be at the top of the agenda in any fair-minded democratic society. Allowing individuals to achieve and maintain independence, an element of self-esteem and dignity without suffering the ignominy of having to resort to a humiliating begging bowl mentality. If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong highlights some of those points and, I hope, reminds us all that with the right kind of assistance anything is possible.’
Graeae’s John Kelly adds: ‘If It Can’t Be Right Then It Must Be Wrong is the fight back towards a society that respects equality, difference, human rights and that celebrates that we actually want to support each other through life.
‘I hope that people come along to the show and join in the fun, anarchy and energy of it all, so we can have a right old singalong every night during the tour.’
The song will be available as a free download to everyone who buys a ticket and will be performed at each show on the tour by the cast and band.
As part of Graeae’s Reasons to be Cheerful community engagement programme, it is inviting all members of the community – regardless of their songwriting experience – to create original protest songs with an accompanying video in any format accessible to them. These are available to view and listen to at graeae.org/protest-song-hub. A selection of the songs will be given their first airings to the public on the tour.
First seen in 2010, Reasons to be Cheerful has gone on to play at theatres and festivals across the UK, and in stadiums around the world.
Spasticus Autisticus, the Ian Dury-penned disability rights anthem which features in the show, was performed by the cast at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony and, despite being banned by the BBC in 1981, broadcast worldwide in front of an audience of more than 1bn.
All performances of Reasons to be Cheerful seamlessly include British Sign Language, audio description and creative captioning.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
Nuffield Southampton Theatre