Dumfries stages Scottish premiere of play Black Roses

The Bunbury Banter Theatre Company is offering young people from Dumfries and Galloway the chance to take the lead in a play exploring prejudice and hate crime.

Young people in Dumfries and Galloway are being invited to take the lead in an exciting theatre initiative to stage the Scottish premiere of Black Roses.

The poetic work, by Simon Armitage, explores the murder of Sophie Lancaster in 2007.

Sophie and her boyfriend Robert Maltbywere attacked while walking through a park by a mob of teenage boys because they were Goths. She died 13 days later of her injuries.

Five teenage boys were charged with murder, two of them were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The play looks at prejudice, and will be presented alongside young people’s own experiences.

Ali Anderson-Dyer, Director and co-founder of Bunbury Banter, said:“Black Roses is a powerful and important piece of work, which we are really excited to be working on as it has only ever been staged once previously, back in 2014 by the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.

“This is a chance for young people to take the lead in creating the production which will be a Scottish premiere and to present it at the Theatre Royal. We are currently looking for local young aspiring actors to get in touch to be a part of the cast.

“Just as important is that Simon Armitage’s work will be heard alongside the experiences of young people in Dumfries and Galloway – and the challenges they face growing up in the region today.”

Black Roses was praised by Sophie’s mother Sylvia who said:“Simon Armitage’s poems give back to Sophie the voice she lost when she was brutally murdered in 2007.”

The work was described by The Daily Telegraph as “A searingly beautiful elegy to a real life horribly cut short and a gut-wrenching illustration of the horrors of mindless violence,” while What’s on Stagesaid: “Audiences are unlikely to see anything so powerful or moving this year”.

Support for the project has come from the police. Sandy Currie, Dumfries Police Youth Engagement Officer, said:“Hate crime of any sort has no place in today’s society, awareness raising events like this are important to challenge misplaced preconceptions and create a more tolerant and understanding community.”

Bunbury Banter are specialists in new and experimental theatre. They have recently produced Blackout and the A Play, A Poet and A Pastry series in Dumfries to much acclaim.
They plan three theatrical projects for Dumfries and Galloway in 2019, Black Roses being the first.

Lyndsay Walker, Marketing and Communications Officer for the Theatre Royal, said: “Theatre Royal Dumfries is once again delighted to be working with Bunbury Banter Theatre Company and we are thrilled to be able to host their production of Black Roses this July.

“With this project, this is a great opportunity to engage with young people across the region, and demonstrate that prejudice is still as prevalent in today’s society, twelve years after the murder of Sophie Lancaster.”

Black Roses is being supported by The Holywood Trust and D&G Arts Live.

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