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Being Arthur

21 November 14 words: James Walker
The first ever live 24 hour Twitter presentation of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning happens this weekend as part of the Being Human humanities festival
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If you’ve not read or heard of Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning before here’s the digested read: Factory worker Arthur Seaton grafts his nuts off at a lathe, gets hammered at the weekend, knocks off a pair of sisters, gets a hiding from a couple of Squaddies at Goose Fair, contemplates his life while fishing, before finally settling down with a woman called Doreen. The novel was published in 1958 and would go on to become Pan’s first paperback to sell a million copies before being turned into a film in 1960 staring Albert Finney.

This weekend will see the first ever live 24 hour Twitter presentation of the seminal novel by James Walker and Paul Fillingham. The commission is for Being Human, the first national festival of the humanities.

In 2012/3 James and Paul were commissioned for BBC/Arts Council multimedia platform The Space where they produced The Sillitoe Trail which explored the enduring relevance of SNASM through a series of essays, videos, photography and music. Since then the project has seen Arthur Seaton brought back to life in support of Pussy Riot (see the video above - voice of Seaton is by Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods). @BeingArthur is billed as The Sillitoe Trail II, but played entirely through one medium.

The novel itself is spread over a couple of years and so it is impossible to cover everything, instead they will present a condensed version set over seven key themes and locations: Factory, Home, Square, Drink, Midnight, Embankment, Suburbia.

Arthur Seaton will be using the Twitter handle @BeingArthur and will interact with other characters from the novel. These will be retweeted to reproduce one authentic conversation. However, Twitter users are encouraged to join in the role-play conversation, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or respond to tweets. But be aware that Seaton is belligerent, fiercely individualistic, subversive and rebellious. He has an opinion and an answer for everything; so if you start gobbing off, be prepared to feel the full venom of his caustic wit.

There will also be a modern day Arthur Seaton played by @TheSpaceLathe who will be responding to the seven themes and bringing the novel into 2014. These will be shown on the website timeline through a split screen so that readers can compare Seaton’s life, then and now.  

James Walker said, ‘in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning we see Arthur Seaton downing eleven pints and six small gins before collapsing down the stairs of the White Horse pub. Pubs in 1958 were absolutely rammed, with Radford a city in its own right. But things are very different now. Since the novel was published pubs that Arthur may have drunk in have been converted into coffee shops, a Karaoke Bar, a Primark, Tescos, a gambling arcade and a noodle bar. People no longer have the same disposable income to waste in pubs and so the novel would be very different, which is what makes it so much fun to rewrite: For it was Saturday Night, the bingiest gladtime of the week, but everyone was at home downing cans and watching Netflix.’  

So if you’re feeling gobby this weekend and can’t be arsed to leave your house to vent off at stag nights, have a pop at Arthur instead. 

Being Arthur website

Sillitoe Trail website

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