Sophie's story: Simon Armitage stage play is latest elegy to murdered goth

 

Sophie Lancaster, the young woman killed in a Lancashire park in 2007 for being a goth, has inspired a series of artistic tributes, the latest of which is a stage play about her tragically short life.

An award-winning radio drama about the murdered 20-year-old written by poet Simon Armitage will be staged at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.

Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh will play Sophie’s mother Sylvia in the production, Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster, and Sophie will be played by Rachel Austin who voiced her in the radio version.

The radio play, which was written by Armitage after he spent three days talking to Sylvia, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 last March.

Multiple prize-winning poet and author Armitage told the BBC that the reaction to the radio play “was greater than for any other project I’ve ever been involved with”.

He said: “People were phoning in to the BBC switchboard on the day, writing in, emailing, getting messages to me afterwards about how much they’d been affected by the whole thing.”

Five teenage boys attacked Sophie's boyfriend Robert Maltby,21, in Bacup park on a Friday night. Sophie intervened during the unprovoked attack, cradling Robert in her arms and begging them to stop, before two of the attackers kicked and stamped on her.

Both Sophie and Robert were taken to hospital badly injured, but Sophie died two weeks later.

Ryan Herbert, 16, and Brendan Harris, 15, were convicted of murdering Sophie in April 2008 and sentenced to 16 and 18-year minimum jail terms respectively.

Robert was the first to pay tribute to Sophie artistically when in 2010 he exhibited a collection of his paintings titled ‘Crimson Iris: The Art of Sophie’ to raise money for an anti-hatred foundation set up in her name.

He told The Independent at the time: “Even though the iris is a symbol of faith, hope and wisdom, the unnatural colour [red] symbolises violence, anger and danger."

Armitage got in touch with Sophie’s mother after reading about the trial. After several days of speaking to her he decided to give Sophie a voice “because she could no longer speak for herself” .

Actress Hesmondhalgh, who plays transsexual character Hayley Cropper in the ITV soap Coronation Street, says the stage retelling of Armitage’s play will present Sophie’s life in a new way.

"[It] gives you a very three dimensional look into what she was like as a baby and a child and a teenager and about their relationship," she told the BBC. "I think because of that, you feel the loss even more strongly. She's a fully rounded person and you lose her too."

Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster, 19-29 September, Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester; www.sophielancasterfoundation.com

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam