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Faces in the Street by Errol O’Neill



THEMES: Union Strikes, Working Class Values, Government Repression
LENGTH: 135 Minutes

A story of the 1912 Brisbane General Strike.


Errol O’Neill‘s Faces in the Street is based on the events of the 1912 Brisbane General Strike. With a mixture of historical and composite fictional characters, it presents the stark contrast between the aspirations of labour and those of the capital. Faces in the Street also explores the more enduring and complex divisions within the labour camp itself and traces the effect of the labour movement experience on the lives of individuals.

Faces in the Street is one of the many plays that Errol wrote about the history of the Queensland labour movement. The other plays include Playlab Theatre’s New Vintage publication Popular Front and On the Whipping Side.


It is two years before the Great War; three years before the Labour Party was to begin almost a 40 year Queensland dynasty; five years before the Russian Revolution; and eight years before the formation of the Australian Communist Party. Over 150,000 people call Brisbane home and, when the strike is called, ten per cent of the population walks of the job. This was the first general strike in Australian history and was to form attitudes that would typify industrial relations in this country up to the present day.


Faces in the Street was commissioned by La Boite Theatre, Brisbane for the 1983 Warana Festival, through generous support of the Festival Committee. The play was directed by Andrew Ross with original music by Donald Hall and was first produced at La Boite Theatre on 16 September 1983.

ISBN: 978-1-76161-004-2

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