King Real and the Hoodlums

Company Name: Welfare State International
Location: Barrow-in-Furness
Year: 1983

In 1983 Welfare State, working with Sheffield Polytechnic Film school, created King Real and the Hoodlums over 3 months in Barrow-in-Furness. It was written by Adrian Mitchell with musical direction by Pete Moser.  The community film is a Mad Max version of Shakespeare’s King Lear. The film had a budget of £25,000 and was premiered in a local cinema where all the cast were awarded home-made Oscars.

John Fox, New Theatre Quarterly  August, 1988:

‘The film combines the razzmatazz of Punch and Judy with the sad blue-grey of Goya. In its punk-operatic excesses, icebergs of welded-together fridges float by under the shipyard cranes and Lear/Real’s daughters totter up thrones of junk to preside over the last rites of consumerdom in a spirit of holo-caustic humour.’

John Fox, Eyes on Stalks:

‘The film has been shown a couple of times in Barrow, but maybe the whole process was more significant than the product. It was a confrontational interpretation of Art and War and a different method of creativity and participation for the community. We were valued for keeping kids off the streets, for engaging a few disorientated or angry young men who otherwise would have been standing about in the betting shop, for drawing excellent performances out of a few committed amateur drama performers, and we produced a long energetic if rough, film, with some hard hitting poetry. Nevertheless, it took four years to ingratiate ourselves again, because our street style street style and Mad Max costumes were too arty and too confrontational and the film’s message was too outspoken and critical for a town dependent on building nuclear submarines.’

Back to Welfare State International