Mitchell & Kenyon made their name by giving ordinary folk their five-teen minutes, or less, of fame.
During the close of the Victorian period and into the Edwardian era, they
set out from Blackburn and travelled widely filming people.
The films consisted of thousands of workers leaving factory gates, seaside holidays and even the earliest known footage of Manchester United. At the time they were promoted as fairground attractions and sideshows whilst years later they provide us with a crystal clear cultural documentation of everyday life in the late 19th Century.
The films would then be shown at fairs, theatres and other venues, where
people could spot themselves, their family and friends on the big screen.
After their heyday, Mitchell & Kenyon’s films were largely forgotten until they were rediscovered, sealed in metal churns in a photographer’s shop, in
They were donated to the British Film Institute which together with the
University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive, restored and
researched the 800 camera negatives.
Now they are the focus of a new play at Oldham’s Coliseum Theatre which begins on the 15th May. It tells the tale of the films which were almost lost to time and the two visionaries responsible for them.
Directed by Blackburn native Amy Leach and written by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Daragh Carville the play brings Mitchell and Kenyon back to life to tell the story of a unique film-making partnership whose collection of ‘local films for local people’ is now regarded as a national treasure.
“Mitchell & Kenyon honoured the people they filmed and gave them a
certain respect and dignity. I want this play to honour Mitchell & Kenyon in
the same way,” said Daragh.
The Life And Times Of Mitchell & Kenyon
Thursday 15 May-Saturday 31 May at Oldham Coliseum
To book tickets for the Oldham Coliseum
run, ring the Coliseum box office on 0161 624 2829 or visit