The Precarious Creative Workers of the World Little Red Songbook is a re-working of the infamous Industrial Workers of the World Little Red Songbook, a small publication with over 36 editions published over the past 100 years that mobilized union support and solidarity between workers in the 20th century.
Throughout the original songbook’s creation, workers borrowed old melodies from folk tunes and hymns, the popular songs of the day, re-writing the lyrics to stand up for their rights as labourers against capitalist exploitation. The songbooks were cheaply produced and distributed, and were used by workers to sing together at meetings, strikes and rallies. The songbook’s tag line, “to fan the flames of discontent”, shows that the songs were intended to refigure, in the hearts and imaginations of the workers, their rights as workers and their power in collective action.
In ACT 1, of the Precarious Creative Workers of the World Little Red Song Book, I meet with precarious creative workers to re-write these old folk tunes and hymns to reflect contemporary, precarious, insecure and immaterial labour conditions typical of our ‘gig’ economy, in which so many of us live and work. In the words of the songs, we position our place in wifi zones at cafes as the new assembly line, and call for collective action against insecure labour conditions. The songbook itself will be printed and launched with a sing along on May 1st, 2016 at the Company House as part of the Mayworks festival (confirmed).
In Act 2, just as labour organizers in the 20th century borrowed from popular song, we borrow from contemporary(ish) pop songs using the participatory form of karaoke. Again, we rewrite lyrics but I will also make karaoke videos that are shown in a karaoke party that ends the event on May 1st.