Stephen Brailsford drew on his time as a young Nottinghamshire pitman to write a juke box musical set in the run-up to the 1984-85 miners’ strike, the most divisive industrial struggle of modern times.
He was a Butlin’s Redcoat and became a self-employed magician. But it was his experience of an earlier career that inspired his latest venture in showbiz.
Punctuated by 1980s hits from Spandau Ballet, The Human League and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Coal: The Musical describes life in “a northern mining town” as the colliery workforce faces up to a decline in production.
Stephen said: “My father and grandfather were miners and I grew up in Rainworth. I worked at Rufford Colliery in the 1980s but later it struck me that my children knew nothing of my mining heritage.
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“The portrayal of miners always seemed to be negative. It was always about strikes, or a disaster. But you don’t often hear about the miners’ sense of humour, which helps drive my storyline. The storyline goes up to 1984 and the beginning of the strike. That was the end of an era.”
Stephen 54, a divorced father of three children aged 16 to 20, now lives in Scarborough.
The idea for Coal: The Musical came when Stephen saw photographs of the final shift at Kellingley Colliery, which was Britain’s last deep mine when it closed in 2015.
A friend suggested that Stephen’s initial jottings on the theme could be the basis of a film, which eventually became a stage musical.
Then the 1980s hits were added to the mix.
The finished piece was created with Shadowmancer and Wormwood author GP Taylor, also from Scarborough.