After the Miners’ Strike: A39 and Cornish Political Theatre versus Thatcher’s Britain: Volume 1 - cover image


Paul Farmer

Published On





  • English

Print Length

282 pages (xii+270)


Paperback156 x 20 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.79" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 24 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.94" x 9.21")


Paperback537g (18.94oz)
Hardback714g (25.19oz)



OCLC Number





  • AFKP
  • AB
  • NHD
  • NHTB


  • AN
  • AFKP
  • WQH
  • J
  • JP
  • JPR
  • 1DBKE
  • HBJ
  • 3JJP


  • ART060000
  • ART037000
  • HIS015070
  • HIS054000


  • PN3307.G7


  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • A39
  • Cornwall
  • history
  • miners' strike
  • political theatre
  • Thatcherism

After the Miners’ Strike

A39 and Cornish Political Theatre versus Thatcher’s Britain: Volume 1

In this rich memoir, the first of two volumes, Paul Farmer traces the story of A39, the Cornish political theatre group he co-founded and ran from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. Farmer offers a unique insight into A39’s creation, operation, and artistic practice during a period of convulsive political and social change.

The reader is plunged into the national miners’ strike and the collapse of Cornish tin mining, the impact of Thatcherism and ‘Reaganomics’, and the experience of touring Germany on the brink of reunification, alongside the influence on A39 of writers Bertolt Brecht, John McGrath and Keith Johnstone. Farmer, a former bus driver turned artistic director, details the theatre group’s inception and development as it fought to break down social barriers, attract audiences, and survive with little more than a beaten-up Renault 12, a photocopier and two second-hand stage lights at its disposal: the book traces the progress from these raw materials to the development of an integrated community theatre practice for Cornwall.

Farmer’s candour and humour enliven this unique insight into 1980s theatre and politics. It will appeal to anyone with an interest in theatre history, life in Cornwall, and the relationship between performance and society during a turbulent era.


Farmer’s account of A39’s experimental political theatre practice in 1984–92 is an original and valuable contribution to the field of theatre and performance studies, especially political theatre history, agitprop, and working-class, socialist theatre. This is the first substantial work to account for the activities of A39 theatre, and one of the only texts looking in depth at political theatre in and about Cornwall. The book offers important food for thought on popular and effective approaches to making political theatre, while discussions of counterculture and left political organisation will be useful in theatre and labour movement studies for filling in details of a history that is currently underrepresented.

Dr Rebecca Hillman

Senior Lecturer, Department of Communications, Drama and Film, University of Exeter



(pp. 1–6)
  • Rebecca Hillman


(pp. 7–10)
  • Paul Farmer

2. Into A39

(pp. 27–36)
  • Paul Farmer

3. One & All!

(pp. 37–60)
  • Paul Farmer
  • Paul Farmer
  • Paul Farmer
  • Paul Farmer
  • Paul Farmer
  • Paul Farmer
  • Paul Farmer
  • Paul Farmer
  • Mark Kilburn


Paul Farmer


Paul Farmer first worked in Cornish arts as an actor/musician/bus driver with Miracle Theatre, then co-founded A39 Theatre Group, later becoming artistic director. As a freelance playwright he wrote a number of plays for Kneehigh Theatre Company and for Cornish community events and celebrations. During the mid-late 1990s Farmer was one of those who established the Cornish film industry, as a writer, director and producer. An increasingly experimental film practice would lead to a number of projects exploring digital image work in a literary context. He was a founder member and company manager of the live literature collective Scavel An Gow, then one of the three artists who represented Cornwall in the European Regions of Culture initiative, leading into work in a fine art context in performance, moving image and installation. He holds an Honours degree in Theatre from Dartington College of Arts and a Masters in Fine Art: contemporary practice from University College Falmouth. From 2014 to 2022 he was a lecturer in film and theatre at Falmouth University. In 2000 he was made a Bard of Gorsedh Kernow ‘for services to Cornish arts’.

Rebecca Hillman

(preface by)
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communications, Drama and Film at University of Exeter

Rebecca Hillman’s work as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communications, Drama and Film at the University of Exeter is informed by her involvement with trade unions and political campaign groups. She enjoys teaching her module Activism and Performance to examine with students how social and industrial movements use performance and other cultural forms to make change in the world. Her recent publications explore theatre as a political organising tool, working-class theatre, housing and activism, and collaborative efforts to strengthen links between artists and the labour movement. Rebecca is the Principle Investigator on the AHRC Fellowship Performing Resistance: Theatre and Performance in 21st Century Workers’ Movements. She is writing a book based on some of this work, to be published with Bloomsbury in 2025.

Mark Kilburn


Mark Kilburn was born in Birmingham and lived for a number of years in Scandinavia. Between 1996–98 he was writer in residence at the City Open Theatre, Århus, Denmark, and in 2002 he was awarded a Canongate prize for new fiction. In 2012 he won the ABCtales poetry competition. Subsequent prizes include first place in the Cerasus Poetry Olympics, 2020. His first novel, Hawk Island, was originally published by ElectronPress (currently out of print). His poetry collection, Beautiful Fish, is available from Amazon (print) and Cerasus Poetry (digital). His latest novel, The Castle, set in Falmouth during the English Civil Wars, is available from Amazon in paperback, hardback, and digital editions.