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Clare Gray, Anna Kiakowski , Neil Leiper, Khumbo Misanjo and Bruce Morton

New comedy celebrates Paisley’s radical past

Paisley’s radical past is coming back to life through a brand new comedy play that tells the story behind one of the oldest workers’ festival – Sma’ Shot Day.

Silver Threads is a quick-fire comedy of the political battle between the Paisley weavers – who made the Paisley Pattern shawls – and their employers in the 19th century.

It centres on the lives of David and Hannah as they are pushed to the brink through long hours and poor pay, ultimately leading them to join the weavers’ protest for rightful compensation.

The Sma’ Shot was a hidden cotton thread that held the shawls together which the weavers were not being paid for.

Silver Threads has an all Scottish cast and is written by Paisley-born stand-up comedian, Bruce Morton, who also stars in the production alongside Clare Gray.

The first live performance of Silver Threads takes place during the town’s Sma’ Shot festival (2 – 3 July) as part of the build up to Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

Council Leader Mark Macmillan, Chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, said: “Paisley is proud of its weaving history and heritage and the Sma’ Shot story had a significant impact on the town.

“Silver Threads brings to life the struggles of the Paisley weavers to gain rightful compensation for the Sma’ Shot – a small piece of cotton thread that held together the Paisley Pattern shawls together – and their eventual victory that resulted in the annual celebration we know today.

“Paisley has strong links with radicalism – having been a hotbed of early trade unionism at the centre of the Radical War of 1820 that lead the then Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to comment: ‘Keep your eye on Paisley’.

“This new comedy is a great way to showcase Paisley’s  cultural offering and a huge boost as momentum builds on our bid for UK City of Culture 2021.”

From the Calton to Catalonia is also part of the town’s Sma’ Shot celebrations. Written in the 1990s, it is a story of family, sacrifice, loss and idealism and Scotland’s part in the Spanish civil war.

Around one-third of all British volunteers who went to fight Franco’s rule came from Glasgow. Many did not return.

Both performances are produced by FairPley - on behalf of Renfrewshire Council - and feature members of the Equity and Musicians’ Union.

Tickets are on sale at for Silver Threads (8/10) on Sunday 3 July, 7.30pm and From the Calton to Catalonia (10/12) on Saturday 2 July, 7.30pm – both at Paisley Arts Centre.

Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is taking place as part of a wider push to transform the town’s future using its unique cultural and heritage offering as the home of the Paisley Pattern and the one-time centre of the global textile industry.

Bids are expected to be lodged with the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport in spring 2017.

For more information on Sma’ Shot Day, visit, like /Paisley2021 on Facebook or follow @Paisley2021 on Twitter and Instagram.