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What Is the Story of The Pitmen Painters?
Lee Hall’s new drama tells the true story of a group of miners in Newcastle, England, in the 1930s who discover a passion for painting and become celebrated artists in their own right. The play begins as the miners, who’ve already spent 12 hours underground in the “pit,” gather for an art appreciation class taught by a visiting professor. Stymied by an attempt to engage his pupils with photos of famous paintings none of them have ever heard of, the teacher gets the bright idea to let the miners learn by doing. The results are spectacular: The so-called Ashington Group becomes the toast of London, attracting patrons and gallery shows. Conflict looms when the most talented artist, Oliver Kilbourn, is offered a weekly stipend by a wealthy collector. Will he leave the mines and pursue his passion full-time?