Stage play inspired by Sheku Bayoh to examine Scotland’s racist underbelly

Sheku Bayoh & Family
Sheku Bayoh & Family

source: The Scotsman
published: 7 August 2019

A powerful new play inspired by the case of a father-of-two who died in police custody in Scotland and intended to explore how racist the country really is, is being developed by one of its leading theatres.

The Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh is working with an acclaimed poet and writer on Lament for Sheku, which will examine how much prejudice exists in Scotland’s institu­tions and in our wider society.

Hannah Lavery, who has already created a spoken word show recalling her experiences of growing up in a mixed-race family in Edinburgh, said the play was aimed at revealing the human tragedy behind the Sheku Bayoh case, which triggered accusations of racism within Police Scotland.

She has drawn from the previous testimonies of relatives, lawyers, police officers and politicians for her script.

The play, which is being staged in workshop form at the Edinburgh International Festival, recalls the long-running campaign to secure justice for Mr Bayoh, who died after being restrained by police officers in Kirkcaldy in Fife, in 2015. His family were told there would be no criminal charges against any police officers. They are still waiting to be told whether there will be a fatal accident inquiry.

Lavery was approached by David Greig, artistic director of Royal Lyceum, with the idea for a play inspired by the Bayoh case, after reading the script of The Drift, which examined her own complex relationship with Scotland.

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