Five: A play by Footlights Theatre about Hate Crime


My colleague Hannah Barton and I were invited to attend a play at the Yemeni Community Association during Greater Manchester Hate Crime Week.  The play was presented by Footlights Theatre and was called “The Five”.  It chartered 5 true stories of victims of Hate Crime spanning almost 100 years and was portrayed in a contemporary and hard hitting style by five actors.

The play is currently touring schools to be performed for year 9 pupils.  Following the play pupils participate in interactive workshops to raise awareness and address questions around racism, homophobia and gender.

The play starts in 1919 with the story of Charles Wooten a black ships fireman who was murdered by a white mob in Liverpool, and ended with the story of Aaron Doherty, who at 17 years of age was the victim of a substantial homophobic attack by 12 Asian youths in Rochdale in 2010.

The play was superbly delivered by the actors and was at times particularly uncomfortable to watch as it demonstrated the reality of Hate Crime in a very brave, daring, and gritty way.

I was particularly touched by Aaron’s story partly because it happened in Rochdale where I was brought up and worked for 21 years, but also because I experienced a similar incident with my friend in Liverpool.

Following the play, the actors invited the audience to participate in a question and answer session it was during this session that the director disclosed that he was Aaron and the last story was his own. 

Aaron’s recollection of that night and the affect it had on him was incredibly moving.  He recounted how his family and friends predicted that his experience would lead him to hate others. But Aaron’s take away message was to the bystanders he recalled there being 80-100 witnesses to his attack and yet nobody came to help, nobody rang the police and no witnesses we available to identify any of the people who attacked him.  It admitted it is difficult for him to forgive the lack of intervention from those bystanders who stood by and did nothing.  Whilst he would not have liked anyone to put themselves in danger he felt very strongly that it is not acceptable for us to do nothing in these situations.  As a result of this he was motivated to write “The Five” performance to raise awareness of the personal effects of Hate Crime and educate people on how to deal with it.  

I would like to finish with a big thankyou to the Yemeni Community Association, who took the time to apply for the Hate Crime grant administered by Salford CVS to raise awareness of Hate Crime in such a brave and daring way.

Salford CVS
Michelle Warburton, Voice and Influence Manager

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