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Unity Youth Theatre Toxteth project and performance

7 October 2011 by Sam

people talking by park railings and a 'Selborne Street' sign

Courtesy of Clapperboard

Here’s a report from Eilish Clarke from the Unity Youth Theatre, on a project she has been involved in connected to the current Toxteth 1981 exhibition, which is building towards a new perfomance on 28 October, as part of the Black History Month events.


“For the past few months the International Slavery Museum has been working with the Unity Youth Theatre and Clapperboard film project, to help give us a better understanding of the 1981 Toxteth Uprising. As a member of the Unity Youth Theatre, I think it is fair to say we all had very little knowledge of the topic when we first started. However, as the project has progressed we have all become very interested in learning about how the Uprising came about and how it affected the people of Toxteth and Liverpool.

During this project we have been given the opportunity to meet a wide range of fascinating people who have told us their real life stories from the events that took place in July 1981. The first person we met with was Leroy Cooper who used music, dance and photography to show us his interpretation from the Toxteth Uprising. It was brilliant to hear what Leroy Cooper had to say as he was present when the Uprisings started. The next person we met with was John, who was a fire fighter from Toxteth in 1981. He told us what it felt like to be there at the time, especially as he could understand why people were so angry, yet it was important that he was doing his job correctly. This was a really interesting account to listen to.

As well as meeting people who were involved in the Toxteth Uprising, the group also visited the area of Liverpool 8 affected and the Toxteth 1981 exhibition in the museum. Historian Laurence Westgaph took us around Toxteth and told us about the buildings that used to be there before the Uprisings. Laurence also told us accounts he had heard from people he has spoken with through his research. Everyone in the Unity Youth Theatre agreed this was a brilliant session as we were able to put images in our head from the place we have been studying. It was also interesting to learn the history of an area we have all travelled through so many times. Visiting the International Slavery Museum to see the exhibition was also a good session as we were able to read more accounts from people who were involved in the Uprising as well as seeing pictures and newspaper clippings.

Over the next few months we will use the information we have collected to create a performance, which we will show at the International Slavery Museum on 28 October, 7pm. This will hopefully be used to give more people an insight into what happened in Toxteth in July 1981, and also why it happened.”

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