RAY Castleton's post-war mining family drama, On Behalf Of The People, is touring Yorkshire theatres, community halls and former mining villages, next stop York Theatre Royal Studio tonight (June 8).

Staged by Sheffield playwright and performer Castleton and Yorkshire actor and producer David Chafer's South Yorkshire company The Melting Shop, it also visits Pocklington Arts Centre on June 13; The Carriageworks, Leeds, June 22, and Selby Town Hall, June 30.

Revealing the struggle that affected millions from mining communities in the face of enormous political and social change, Castleton's play is filled with warmth, humour and realism.

Set in a Yorkshire mining town, it follows George Mason, his wife Connie, their son, returning soldier Tom, and Tom’s fiancée Liz from the immediate aftermath of the Second World War to Coronation year, 1953.

As Tom returns to the arms of his grateful mother and fiancée and to the bosom of the pit, George fights his own battles and an election. Connie mourns, loves and unites as Liz sees a new world brim-full of opportunity, but in a new Britain, will their hopes and dreams be reconciled?

"On Behalf Of The People is based on extensive research about the people who lived in mining communities just after the war and how the aftermath of the war and the massive change – the election of the post-war Labour government, nationalisation, the new health service and the development of social housing – impacted on their lives," says Castleton.

"I was keen to write a story about real people and how their lives and relationships changed; the audience reaction we received last year confirms that this story touches people with its authenticity and honesty."

York Press:

Ray Ashcroft as miner George Mason in The Melting Shop's On Behalf Of The People. Picture: Tom Jackson. 

The play was commissioned by the National Coal Mining Museum as part of its programme of activities to mark 70 years since the nationalisation of the British coal mining industry. A premiere at the museum and short Yorkshire and Derbyshire tour last year is now followed by 34 performances across 28 venues, with Charlie Kenber's cast being led by Sheffield actor Ray Ashcroft as George, joined by Kate Wood as Connie, Rotherham-born Danny Mellor as Tom and Doncaster's Lizzie Frain as Liz.

"My brief was to write a play about nationalisation to mark the 70th anniversary, but just to write about that, everyone would fall asleep! Instead I wrote about the cause of nationalisation and the effect it had on the mining community through the story of four people, so we see it through their eyes, their perspective," says Castleton, who gave them a Left-leaning viewpoint.

"One story, for example, is based on my father's story, coming back from the war in 1945, when his best friend didn't, and his friend's parents blamed him because they didn't need to go as they worked in a reserved occupation at the steelworks.

"For this play, I've turned it into a story of two brothers joining up; the younger one joining up first and coming back; the older brother joining up later and not returning."

Castleton says his play is not about politics, so much as the impact that politics has on people, and with that in mind, he believes it has resonance in this age of Brexit and the Windrush generation debacle.

"We are the fifth richest country in the world but we don't have an energy strategy," says Castleton. "Contrast that with the strong men and women we portray in this play, fighting for what they believed in. A 'pit' is not a hole in the ground, it's a coal mine that required engineering skills to mine.

"The Government talks of a northern powerhouse. Well, they had that already but they dismantled it. Miners were proud of what they did and they wanted to continue it and I think that is a noble aim."

The Melting Shop presents On Behalf Of The People at York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.45pm (box office, 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk); Pocklington Arts Centre, June 13, 7.30pm (01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk); The Carriageworks, Leeds, June 22, 7.30pm (0113 376 0318 or carriageworkstheatre.co.uk; Selby Town Hall, June 30, 8pm (01757 708449 or selbytownhall.co.uk).