Charles Benjamin Mann (or Charley as his father usually wrote it) was born on 11th July 1905, in Australia, a son of Tom Mann (see separate entry), the famous trade union leader and Communist. Charlie was himself a life-long Party member.
He was one of the Rebel Players group, which won a trip to the Soviet Union in a competition. One of the outcomes of Charlie Mann's experiences was 'Propaganda in Pictures', an 'agitprop' film-showing whence, by means of a car borrowed from a comrade, sections of 'Soviet Russia Past and Present’ were actually shown in the streets of the East End. The car carried a box-type projector containing its own screen, powered by a generator connected to the car’s accumulator.
These showings were so popular that crowds gathered in the streets but the police accused the organisers of obstruction. They also held a Shoreditch Town Hall event, packed to its two thousand seat capacity> A Workers' Theatre Movement sketch was staged, using voices strategically placed on the floor of the hall, whilst a projector in the gallery showed enlarged pictures of the Hunger Marchers relating to the sketch being performed.
With Jack Loveman and Jimmy Jones he founded the Lewisham Red Players radical theatre group, one of some ten or so such groups in London in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The Lewisham Red Players performed in Lewisham High Street and elsewhere, with their group chorus going:
“There is a word you mustn’t sat – revo-lution
All the same it’s on the way – the workers’ revolution
Every day the world turns round – revo-lution
A few more turns, it will resound – revo-lution
It’s coming here, it’s coming there – revo-lution
The ground is tumbling everywhere – the workers’ revolution”.
Mann also produced `Speed-Up! Speed-Up!’ for the South London Red Players.
During the 1930s, he was National Secretary of the Workers' Theatre Movement, founded in 1926.
For a time he was also editor of the journal Red Stage.
Charlie returned to the Soviet Union in 1937.
In the 1980s, he was still involved with the Party, especially with regard to history projects concerning Lewisham.
He died in Taunton Deane in 1989.
A recording of him speaking about film screenings can be heard at:
Sources: D Bradley (ed) `Aspects of Popular Entertainment in Theatre, Film and Television, 1800–1976’ (1980); Matthew Worley “Class against class: the Communist Party in Britain Between the Wars” (2002):