An award-winning play, which will be performed in Bradford this week on its tour, will pay homage to the lives lost in the Valley Parade tragedy three decades ago. And the student theatre company behind the show “The 56”, named after the fifty-six spectators who lost their lives in the fire, are hoping to achieve a sell-out when it opens on Thursday night in Bradford.
The FYSA Theatre Company have spent the past year working in both Bradford and Lincoln with survivors of the Bradford City Fire, prolific sporting figures – such as John Hendrie, John Helm and Trevor Cherry – supporters and emergency service representatives to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the disaster by ensuring the memory of the fans who lost their lives is never forgotten. They have interviewed people to take their true account of what happened that day and their stage documentary will retell this to the audience.
The show’s aim is to increase awareness of the disaster while also fundraising for the Burns Unit which saved the lives of so many people that day. The show’s appearance in Bradford will directly tie into the FA’s plans to commemorate the disaster by hosting a one minute silence at the end of every home game. The organisers of the play are donating all profits from the show to the Bradford Burns Unit and the ground-breaking research they continue to do.
The production is based on the events of the Saturday afternoon of 11th May 1985 when a small fire broke out in the main stand at Bradford City’s Valley Parade football ground during the final match of the season. Within four minutes the wooden structure was ablaze. 54 Bradford and 2 Lincoln supporters lost their lives that day. The show sets the scene with the words: “Nobody dies at football matches in fires. It doesn’t happen.”
The show’s director, Matt Stevens-Woodhead, told us; “The show pays homage to the supporters who lost their lives in one of the darkest days in British footballing history and the acts of bravery of those who survived. This project would not have been possible without the support of the families and witnesses who so generously contributed their time and stories.”
This unique theatrical experience will be visiting The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford from the 23rd-25th April. It is recommended for 13+ audiences only. Tickets can be purchased at the Alhambra Box Office on 01274 432000 or online at http://www.bradford-theatres.co.uk and are priced at £11.50 for adult.