The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is to stage a very special and emotive production aimed at spreading awareness of the Hillsborough disaster.
‘Beyond Hillsborough’ is a new play that will be performed by Wirral students next week at the world’s largest arts festival.
It dramatises original interviews with survivors, bereaved family members, politicians, police and journalists to ask ‘Is there hope after Hillsborough?’
Directed by West Kirby drama teachers Jo Halliday and Layla Dowie, ‘Beyond Hillsborough’ is set in the present day and is performed by sixth-form drama students from three Wirral schools. Through many interviews with those directly involved in the tragedy, the play explores the consequences of living with the disaster.
Ms Halliday said: “The Hillsborough disaster has had a far-reaching effect on our local community; for some there is still an enormous feeling of pain and injustice more than 20 years on. We therefore felt compelled to create a piece of theatre to inform younger generations of what happened and provide a voice for those still dealing with the consequences of Hillsborough.
“I’ve always been interested in the subject and angry at the conduct of the media, police and the government in relation to the disaster. A good friend from university lost his cousin that day and I have strong memories of my shock when he told me how his aunt and uncle had been treated.”
Speaking of her intentions for the play, Ms Halliday said: “Most of the students knew nothing of Hillsborough at the start of the project. I got them doing research as we made contact with the various interviewees. One of the first things we did was to get the support of families and survivors – we’ve tried to be sensitive throughout and listen carefully to any concerns.
“Our main aim is to give the family members, survivors and supporters a voice to express their feelings and in turn reach a new audience of young people. The feedback we’ve had from those involved and our audiences has been very encouraging and positive.”
‘Beyond Hillsborough’ is an example of verbatim theatre in which plays are constructed from the precise words spoken by people interviewed about a particular topic. It’s a form of drama that Ms Halliday believes is especially potent.
She added: “I strongly believe in the power and potential of theatre to bring issues to an audience – verbatim theatre is excellent for this.”
In order to meet the £15,000 costs of putting on the production at the fringe, the students themselves launched a series of fundraising initiatives.
One of these was a ‘Celebrity Gift and Promise’ scheme, which saw Wirral-born James Bond actor Daniel Craig donate a signed leather flying jacket from his role as Bond in ‘Quantum of Solace’.
‘Weakest Link’ host Anne Robinson, The Zutons and pop diva Jessie J were among other celebrities to help the young actors’ dreams come true, with the bright lights of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival now the next stop.
‘Beyond Hillsborough’ is showing at the Edinburgh Quaker Meeting House, Venue 40, and runs from August 6-11, between 11.40am and 12.40pm each day.
You can also follow Zipped Up Theatre on Twitter @zippedUpTheatre.