International Brigaders

Oct 2 2016 | By More
Dare Devil Rides to Jamara for NEA

By Thom Dibdin

North Edinburgh Arts will mark the 80th anniversary of the formation of the International Brigades this week, with a new play, Dare Devil Rides to Jamara, touring to the venue on Wednesday 6 October 2016.

The play, from the makers of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and We Will Be Free, looks at the lives and deaths of two members of the Brigade, who went out to Spain to help defend democracy against Franco’s fascist army.

A scene from Dare Devil Rides to Jamara. Photo Townsend Productions

A scene from Dare Devil Rides to Jamara. Photo Townsend Productions

Formed in October 1936, the International Brigades were made up of volunteers from all over the world, who travelled to Spain in order to fight for the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War. Some 2,500 went from Britain and Ireland.

Neil Gore’s new play for Townsend Productions uses the contrasting lives of two brigaders, Clem Beckett and Christopher Cauldwell, to look at the creation of the brigades and the reasons people went to Spain to fight.

Beckett was the most colourful of the two. He was known as Dare Devil for his great daring, courage and skill on the Speedway track and the Wall of Death. But he was a true man of the people, too, who fought against money-sharks and corruption in his sport. It was this tenacity that took him to Spain in an attempt to defend democracy against Franco’s rising fascist army.

In Spain, he developed an unlikely friendship with literary critic, writer and poet Christopher Cauldwell. They died together at their machine gun post covering their battalion’s retreat at the Battle of Jarama in February 1937.

unprecedented example

Speaking of the importance of the brigades, playwright Neil Gore says: “The Spanish Civil War is regarded by historians as a prelude to the Second World War, the most important conflict of the 20th century. An understanding of the circumstances around which the war began are critical in any analysis of potential points of conflict now.

“It is a major example of unity on an international scale, that serves as an example to generations to come. The volunteers who went from the British Isles and other countries set an unprecedented example of international solidarity.

“They fought against fascism and on the side of a democratically elected government that stood for social justice in areas such as health and education, for new rights for women, for free trade unions and for respect towards differing national identities. These are values that endure today.”

Telling their story and doing the volunteers justice is the biggest challenge Gore faces in writing this script he says. But he is no stranger to such responsibility, with his account of the Tolpuddle Martyrs We Will Be Free being a “Heartfelt, intelligent and entertaining” four star hit of the 2013 Fringe according to Æ’s review.

He adds: “Because there so many facets to the story, a major challenge will be tell the story clearly and make sure all the vital elements are included and given necessary weight.

“The volunteers who went to Spain were an exceptional group of individuals. Several of them afterwards became great soldiers, leading trade union and political figures and well-known writers and poets.

“The courage and self-sacrifice of the International Brigades in Spain continue to be an inspiration to people around the world.”

Commissioned by The International Brigades Memorial Trust, Dare Devil Rides To Jarama is touring the UK through to early December.

Listing and links

Dare Devil Rides to Jarama
North Edinburgh Arts, 15a Pennywell Court, EH4 4TZ Box Office: 0131 315 2151
Wednesday 5 October
Evening: 7pm
Tickets and details:

Townsend Productions Website:

The only other Scottish date is:

Loganlea Miners Welfare (Box office: The Pitstop, 01501-763354)
Tuesday 4 October, 2016.

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  1. Listings Oct 3 – 9 : All Edinburgh | Oct 3 2016
  1. North Edinburgh Arts address is 15a Pennywell COURT, EH4 4TZ…despite what Google maps keep telling us, and everyone else. Have a look at the find us page on our website, or ring 0131 315 2151.

    looking forward to the performance on Wednesday.