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 Telegrap has “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 Stage said: “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.

To get involved email [email protected] 

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Listings Details

  • Venue: Theatre Royal, 66-68, Shakespeare St, Dumfries, DG1 2JH.
  • Dates: Thursday, 25th July 2019; Friday, 26th July 2019; Saturday, 27th July 2019
  • Performance time: 7.30pm
  • Tickets: £6
  • Approximate Length: one hour
  • Book online at, and at Midsteeple Box Office on 01387 253383.

About the Director

Ali Anderson-Dyer has directed all four of the A Play, A Poet and A Pastry series (Theatre Royal, Dumfries), Blackout(Theatre Royal, Dumfries), Ego et Al (Hidden Door Festival 2017), Freedoms Cut (National Theatre of Scotland’s five Minute Festival), Moon On A Stick & Fancy Meeting You Here by Lisa Fulthorpe (Bunbury Banter), Rain Stops Play  (Bunbury Banter, starring Timothy West and Prunella Scales) The Bonk (Bunbury Banter, starring Nichola McAuliffe), Handmaidens of Death (University of Hertfordshire), Memories of Loss (Riverside Studios), The Fastest Clock in the Universe by Philip Ridley (Battersea Arts Centre), Stiff (Rosemary Branch Theatre), Settled (Rosemary Branch Theatre) and Gaelic Storytelling; The Bravery of Love (St Mary’s University College).

About Bunbury Banter

Bunbury Banter are an award-winning theatre company based in Dumfries and Galloway, producing imaginative, immersive and engaging theatre of all kinds. Formed in 2006, Bunbury Banter make stories into accessible, shared experiences, with a sprinkling of magic. Their artistic projects often involve working with new writing but the company also experiments with other forms of theatrical performance and storytelling, outside the realms of the traditional theatre space. To date they have produced over eighty individual pieces of audio drama, several site-specific installations and staged many theatrical works. Recent work includes Blackout, by Davey Anderson, Freedoms’ Cut, a verbatim theatre piece for the National Theatre of Scotland Five Minute Festival; Mortar, a web-based audio experience which peaks behind the curtains of a shared townhouse in modern day Britain and shines a light on each inhabitant’s existence, starring Timothy West, Prunella Scales and Nichola McAuliffe; The Dark Outside, a site-specific transmission of select pieces of their past audio work in the UK’s first dark sky forest.

About Simon Armitage

Simon Robert Armitage, CBE, is an English poet, playwright and novelist. He has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year, the Ivor Novello Award for song-writing, BBC Radio Best Speech Programme, Television Society Award for Documentary and Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry. Armitage won the 2017 PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation and was awarded The Queens Gold Medal for Poetry 2018. Armitage is set to be the next Poet Laureate.

Media information: Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or at [email protected]