The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
It says a lot about Barrie Rutter's relationship with his audience that he was at the theatre entrance to greet them and shake hands as they entered for a performance of Rutherford and Son, Northern Broadsides' latest production.
The play is now on an extended tour but was launched last week at the company's base in Dean Clough Mill in Halifax.
The huge west Yorkshire mill, home to dozens of small businesses as well as the Viaduct Theatre, was a splendid setting for a work which is a damning indictment of capitalism.
Set in the early 1900s, it focuses on the owner of a struggling northern glassworks and his fast-crumbling family.
Remarkably the play was written by a woman - remarkable because Githa Sowerby wrote it in 1912, when women playwrights were so rare as to be almost unknown.
But the power of the play, and the reputation of Barrie Rutter and Northern Broadsides, enticed the veteran Jonathan Miller into the director's chair and Blake Morrison to edit the script.
The latter reveals that Sowerby, herself the daughter of a glassworks owner in the north-east, merits more attention than she has hitherto received.
Her play won a rapturous reception on both sides of the Atlantic but not from New York Times critic Adolph Klauber. Reflecting the attitude of the time, he wrote: "Even with Miss Sowerby as a shining example, we do not feel that the playwriting instinct in young ladies calls for immediate or emphatic encouragement."
In this laudable revival, which deserves every success on its lengthy tour, Rutter plays the aggressive, bullying and intolerant factory owner perfectly.
His victims, two adult sons and a daughter, can do little to stand up to him. His priority in life, his factory, dominates so ruthlessly that the family begins to disintegrate.
The political message is there for all to see. Capitalism destroys.
Tours nationally until June 1. For details, visit: www.northern-broadsides.co.uk.