Mann Charlie

Charlie Mann

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 1930sThe 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):


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