After the SDL threatened to march in Edinburgh during the Festival, the writer of one of the darkest productions at this year’s Fringe has called for a new wave of anti-racist activism in the Scottish theatre.
Graham Main’s play Blood Orange, at Summerhall from , was written in response to a march and attempted mobilisation by the far right group in Dumfries last year.
His work, and his call to oppose extremism, have received backing from senior figures in the SNP and the Labour Party. The play has powerful echoes of A Clockwork Orange with smartly dressed, violent gang members seduced into a world of hatred and loathing.
Main has a deep commitment to political action and social justice – in recent years he swapped a career as a Holyrood political researcher to a life developing performing arts in Dumfries and Galloway
Blood Orange is set in the drug-fuelled, sexualised and sometimes vicious contemporary club scene and exposes attempts to radicalise a vulnerable young man and turn him into a racist killer.
“Political theatre has a proud tradition in Scottish culture. And with the rise of the far right and the level of hate crime we now face, there is a job to be done by writers and performers to confront this as one of the nastiest threats to society.
“There are some great examples of anti-racist action around, but it is clear that more needs to happen. The arts are ideally placed to reach out to communities and individuals and to push back against extremism.
Among those who turned out to oppose the SDL was Dumfries and Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown who said “I was encouraged by the large turnout of local people, and those who came a distance to support us, that we were able to show that our local area was not prepared to accept the vile views of the Scottish Defence League.
“As individuals, families and communities, we stood together to show our strength of purpose and determination that we have in rural south west Scotland, that we will not allow their poison to spread. I applaud anything that we are able to do, in whatever form it is presented, to show that these people will not win over those of us who want to live in a tolerant society.”
Main set up his company, The Electric Theatre Workshop, after leaving his role as a researcher for Joan McAlpine MSP and says he “swapped the theatre of politics for political theatre”.
The cast of Blood Orange are young, up-and-coming actors from Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh and Ireland. The play has already been well-received across southern Scotland and at this year’s Prague Fringe.
The cast are now relishing the chance to perform in a prestigious venue at the world’s largest fringe festival.
To book seats go to festival14.summerhall.co.uk/