Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Higher wages

Higher Wages is the third scene of We Can Dance, We Can Swing. In scene 2 one of the millgirls spoke about how her own experiences of work in the jute industry gave her the strength to speak up and make her voice heard.  In the third scene she raises her voice and relates the millgirls' demands for higher wages to the mill management. This scene opens with a speech choir demanding higher wages, after which the millgirl raises her voice in recitative (this is where the recording starts). The speech choir returns briefly, before the millgirl and mill manager assert their standpoints in a duet.

Speech choir:
Higher wages!
Higher wages!
We are after higher wages.

In your smart suit
You eat salmon 
While you pour yourself another glass of wine.
Your workers
Live five, six in a room
The clothes the Parish gave them full of dust
Eating bread
Neighbours gave them.

Speech choir:
Higher wages!
Higher wages!
We are after higher wages!

We millgirls need better pay
To feed our children
And our husbands
We need, we need better pay.

Mill manager:
Higher wages? Higher wages?
I won't give you higher wages
Payrise? Gates closed!
Remember that.

Copyright text, words and music Petra Vergunst

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