Learning from Cotton Panic
Manchester International Festival 2017 presents “Cotton Panic,” a story about the connection between the indentured workers of Lancashire’s cotton industry and the slaves of the American South. Music by Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder and performance by Ab Fab’s Jane Horrocks (yes, Ab Fab, the BBC satire of the PR industry).
Manchester is reclaiming its central role as an industrial culture that ignited a social revolution: Workers fighting for rights and trade redefining a region within the great ebbs and flows of global commerce. Lancashire workers were willing to suffer for the rights of American slaves. And suffer they did, “The Cotton Panic” is also known historically as “The Cotton Famine“. It is a story from the very early days of globalization. The cotton picked by the slaves was made into fabric by the workers in Lancashire. “Would that happen today?” asks Stephen Mallinder, whose drones and electronics frame up this performance. Sadly he thinks not, but this old story seems very relevant in a modern context.
The industrial age was initiated in Manchester and the surrounding region. As the era fades a reenergized Manchester once again demonstrates its role as a powerful creative node in a global cultural network.
This is the place.