AutoHoodening: The Rise of Captain Swing

In time for the holidays, Captain Swing returns from past worker uprisings in a consciousness-raising custom for the age of A.I. Capitalism. A folk opera, based on worker testimonies and interviews with union organisers, written and produced collectively by Post Workers Theatre and Infinite Opera, with costumes from James Frost and Lottie Wood. 

The full film is available to watch online until January 10th (Plough Monday):

Captain Swing, the fictional face of worker dissent in the great English agricultural uprising of 1830, is resurrected to confront the horrors of working as a seasonal associate in an Amazon fulfilment centre. Will Swing help the workers to overcome Alexis the evil scanner, a symbol of Amazon’s regime of technological discipline?

As part of the wider AutoHoodening project begun in 2019, this is a collaborative response to a midwinter custom dating back over 200 years. Hoodening was originally performed by farm labourers in East Kent who paraded with a horse effigy in a carnivalesque satire of their working reality during the fallow season of winter. 

AutoHoodening reimagines this custom for the age of automation, updating its design, delivery and social commentary and asks how might the singing, dancing and physical humour parody and draw attention to the horrifying working conditions hidden behind consumer-facing infrastructure and the ease of ‘one-click’ delivery? 

Filmed on location at Vivid Projects by Andy Willsher & Iain Armstrong.  

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