Tony Allen

Tony Allen arrived at speaking via anarchist politics and the West London Theatre Workshop; an agitprop group. He was already aware of Speakers’ Corner as “a way of educating yourself” and heckled there throughout the `70s. Heckling determines a controversial style of debate, he says, but it can also simplify the argument and lead speakers into repetition. In his first speech in 1978, as “an anarcho-feminist,” he was arrested for swearing. The difference between acting and performing is crucial; on the soapbox you perform but you are in a version of yourself, not a character. He started the Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency for Squatters with author Heathcote Williams and devoted much of his early speaking to defending his alternative lifestyle. Over the years he has cut down on rhetoric and now goes to chat and learn from his audience. He believes the crowds have dwindled because of noisy rock concerts in Hyde Park and is disappointed that Speakers’ Corner does not have “the vitality it promises.” Tony also talks about “advocate heckling” on behalf of people who were “too shy or lazy” to heckle themselves.

Audio of Tony

“Hosting snipers”

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“Anti dependence”

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Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London.

About the project

Sounds from the Park is a unique oral and visual history of Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park: the UK’s last great open air oratory site.

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© Chris Kennett

Exhibition

Our exhibition can be seen online here or read our booklet about Speakers' Corner.

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© Philip Wolmuth

Radio show

Our radio show can be listened to here.

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Young man talking at Speakers' Corner, 2013 © Sophie Polyviou

Education resources

History and Citizenship resources for Key Stage 3 and 4. Complete with a timeline of events at Speakers' Corner and other resources.

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