'Giant karaoke' to mark Peterloo anniversary in Manchester

Painting of Peterloo Massacre Image copyright Manchester Archives
Image caption At least 11 people were killed and about 400 were injured at Peterloo

A "combination of giant karaoke and autocue" based on witness accounts of Peterloo will mark the massacre's 200th anniversary, it has been revealed.

The event, From The Crowd, will be held on the site of Manchester's St Peter's Field, where 50,000 people gathered for a protest on 16 August 1819.

Organisers said the "immersive" show will have a ticketed audience of 3,000 but "no spectators, only performers".

Director Evie Manning said it would be "a dialogue between 1819 and 2019."

At least 11 people were killed and about 400 were injured when cavalry charged the crowd at St Peter's Field in 1819.


A spokeswoman for the commemorative event said it would also feature poetry, song and a reading of the names of those who died.

"At times, a single voice will be heard; at times, hundreds of voices will amplify the story and charge the atmosphere, all connected to the legacy of Peterloo and what it means today," she said.

"The site of St Peter's Field will be filled with voices, sounds and reflections of the themes of protest, democracy and freedom of speech."

Image copyright Simon Mein
Image caption Several screenings of Mike Leigh's Peterloo will take place over the anniversary weekend

Ticketholders for three 1,000 capacity performances of it on 16 August will be invited to join in with the reading of words and will be led by "Laurels", a group of volunteers which will include direct descendants of people at Peterloo.

They have been named in honour of one set of protesters who marched from Middleton to St Peter's Field in 1819 carrying branches of laurel as a symbol of peace.

Karen Shannon, the chief executive of organisers Manchester Histories, said it would be "a combination of giant karaoke and autocue", but also "poignant", remembering "those that led the way in achieving some of the rights that we have today".

The anniversary weekend will also see screenings of director Mike Leigh's film about the massacre and an unveiling of a blue plaque dedicated to John Knight, who was jailed for his part in the rally.

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