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School drama studio hosts play about the killing of Sophie Lancaster

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School drama studio hosts play about the killing of Sophie Lancaster

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Published by KDavison for New Charter Housing Trust Group in Communities and also in Education, Housing

Julie Hesmondhalgh performing ‘Black Roses’. Julie Hesmondhalgh performing ‘Black Roses’.

A school dance and drama studio was transformed into a mini-theatre for a day to welcome actress Julie Hesmondhalgh and a special tour of a poignant play about the death of gap-year student Sophie Lancaster.

Students at the New Charter Academy and the surrounding community of Ashton were invited to an intimate showing of the Royal Exchange Theatre’s Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster.

In August 2007, Sophie Lancaster was beaten unconscious in Stubbeylee Park, Bacup and later died from her injuries in hospital. She was 20 years old, had just passed her A-Levels and was working out what to do with her life. She was killed because she dressed differently.

Written as an elegy to Sophie by poet Simon Armitage - alongside the words of Sophie's mother Sylvia Lancaster, Black Roses visited the New Charter Academy as the first stop on its new North West tour.

The show, originally produced just for radio, is now touring community centres and schools across the region after a sell-out run at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester in September 2012.

Students and the community were treated to the show as part of work the academy is doing with the theatre under a three-year partnership set up by its sponsor New Charter Homes.

This also included homeless people, members of a women’s refuge and local residents.

The Royal Exchange project looks to give people new opportunities to raise their aspirations and develop new skills to help them back into work, further education and training or volunteering.

The students attended a matinee performance with residents attending a second show in the evening.

The play is supported by the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and was produced to raise awareness of hate crime. After seeing the show, the students are now going to raise further awareness of the issue through lessons.

Some of the comments from students and residents:

“No words can describe how heart felt I was by the performance and the subject. Sophie was a beautiful young woman who will be sadly missed by all. The subject was a strong emotional point to watch. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to watch this performance.” Casey Alexander, Year 10.

“This performance was quite heart-breaking seeing everything they had been through from both sides of the story and then how she was apologising to her mum. But obviously her mum couldn’t hear her. I’m very glad I got to watch it.” Alicia Crossland, Year 10

“A fantastic performance, excellent something everyone should see. Highlighting hate crime, which in the past would have been brushed under the carpets. The poetry was easy to follow and the acting was outstanding. Thanks to the academy for letting local people engage in a powerful event.” Vera Anderton – Assheton House Residents’ Group and New Charter tenant.

Arati Patel-Mistry, Community Director at New Charter Academy said: “The show was a fantastic piece of drama that reflected our diverse communities. It’s empowered staff, students and local people and everyone has said it was such a worthwhile performance.”

Tony Powell, Executive Director of Neighbourhoods at New Charter Housing Trust Group added: “The show was incredibly powerful and I think everyone who watched it has taken something away from it.

“Being able to bring a show like this into a local academy has benefits for all the community and it’s this type of work we want to continue with the Royal Exchange under our partnership.”

 More about Black Roses at http://www.royalexchange.co.uk/event.aspx?id=784&utm_source=studio&utm_medium=friendlyurl&utm_content=print&utm_campaign=blackroses#

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