studioSTRIKE

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BBC writers call

(Left to right) Joseph Caruso, Joseph Ettor, and Arturo Giovannitti. If you look closely you'll notice that the three men are handcuffed to each other. This photo was taken while they were still in custody on the charges of murder and inciting a riot. Ettor's characteristic grin can be found in almost every photo of him, including this one. Caruso was a very active Italian-American striker. Ettor and Giovannitti were chief organisers for the I.W.W. and rushed to Lawrence at the onset of the strike. Image courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographic Division. Caption courtesy of http://brc.breadandrosescentennial.org/

An opportunity for writers of film, stage and radio! Click here to find out what we are looking for and how to apply

studioSTRIKE in association with the BBC Writersroom have  launched a call out for new writing exploring the themes of the Bread and Roses Centennial.

Shortlisted scripts will be read by Palm D’Or winning screenwriter Paul Laverty (Looking for Eric, The Wind That Shakes the BarleyBread and RosesMy Name Is Joe) and members of his production company Sixteen Films as well as Kate Rowland (BBC Creative Director New Writing).

To find out more about the narratives, characters and key events of the 1912 Bread and Roses, read our easy to follow guide below.

A hundred years ago, women and immigrant textile workers went on strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts for better pay and working conditions. These became known as the “Bread and Roses” strikes, named after a James Oppenheim poem. Over the course of two months, 20,000 workers from over 20 nations and speaking 45 languages faced daily police violence, hired militiamen and political intimidation.

The City responded to the strike by ringing the city’s alarm bell for the first time in its history. A company of the local militia patrolled the streets. The strikers engaged in mass picketing. Mill security turned fire hoses on the picketers gathered in front of the mills. During the strike there were nearly 300 arrests and strikers Anna LoPizzo and John Rami lost their lives. Image courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographic Division. Caption courtesy of http://brc.breadandrosescentennial.org/

“We, the 20,000 textile workers of Lawrence, are out on strike for the right to live free from slavery and starvation; free from overwork and underpay; free from a state of affairs that had become so unbearable and beyond our control, that we were compelled to march out of the slave pens of Lawrence in united resistance against the wrongs and injustice of years and years of wage slavery.” Proclamation of the Striking Textile Workers of Lawrence

They developed an innovative and impressive system of strike techniques and organisation including one of the first ever moving picket lines to avoid police attacks and bans on loitering outside mills. The mill owners gave in, the strikers won an initial 15% pay hike which eventually translated into a pay rise for 150,000 New England textile workers.

The Bread and Roses strikes were momentarily lost to history, and yet it is hard to overemphasise their significance. They tackled misrepresentations surrounding women, immigrants and unskilled workers by proving that they were fully able to organize and mobilize themselves into the labour movement. To celebrate their centenary, studioSTRIKE are organising the Bread and Roses Film Festival, supported by Film London’s Community Pilot Fund through National Lottery Funding on behalf of the BFI.

Screened films encompass shorts, documentaries, fiction and archive footage from all continents and spanning the last ninety years. These will be accompanied by a series of associated events running throughout 2012 including exhibitions, talks, live music, community outreach workshops, comedy, panel discussions with activists, academics, film makers and people directly involved by these themes.

The film festival aims to highlight the historical and contemporary significance of the Bread and Roses strike; its centenary marks a window of opportunity to interrogate through film the narratives, histories and debates surrounding capitalism, workers’ rights, particularly female worker’s rights, strikes, protests, riots, social activism and immigration. A film festival, pegged to the centenary of the strikes, offers today’s’ audiences a rare opportunity to reflect on their own working lives from a fresh perspective; adding a new historical as well as international context.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was a labor leader, activist, and feminist who played a leading role in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Born in Concord, New Hampshire in 1890, her family moved to New York in 1900, and she was educated at the local public schools. Her parents introduced her to socialism. When she was 16 she gave her first speech, "What Socialism Will Do for Women", at the Harlem Socialist Club. Flynn was expelled from high school for her political activities. Author Theodore Dreiser described her as "an East Side Joan of Arc". Image courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographic Division. Caption courtesy of http://brc.breadandrosescentennial.org/