Printed programme for Plant in the Sun

Printed programme for Plant in the Sun

The great American actor and singer Paul Robeson was a pioneer among black performers in the first half of the 20th century. In the 1930s he appeared in Plant in the Sun which was staged by Unity, the workers' theatre.

The story followed a group of teenagers in the shipping department of a New York sweet factory who hold a sit-down strike when one of them is fired for 'talking union'. Robeson played Peewee, the sacked 19 year old and despite his star status he refused special treatment, insisting on taking turns to sweep the stage with the other actors. He had turned down several lucrative offers to play in Plant in the Sun which was unpaid as the rest of the company were amateurs with day jobs.

The play deals with issues of solidarity across divisions of class, race and gender. These issues were important to Robeson who, though he became a star, was determined not to forget his past. He was the son of a slave who had escaped and become a preacher and Robeson remained committed to supporting the struggles of working people and the disenfranchised throughout his life.