The schools play, ‘Balisong’, produced in partnership with Fast Forward and Strange Town Theatre, has been shortlisted for a Herald Society Award under the Partnership Award category.

The play, written by playwright Jennifer Adam, charts the journey of three friends through the final weeks of school. They are facing a dilemma. What should they do now that one of their friends has started carrying a knife? Should they tell someone? What will happen if they do? What will happen if they don’t? Their conversation is a powerful examination of the risks and consequences of carrying a knife and the challenge of speaking up in situations where other people might be at risk.

“I enjoyed the performance because this showed how people’s lives can be changed by telling the truth.” Young person

“If I knew someone was carrying a knife I would now tell someone immediately.” Young person

“Amazing, couldn’t take my eyes off it.” Young person

The play was created using a peer theatre approach. The approach engages directly with young people’s ideas, opinions and experiences of knife crime and uses their daily experience as the catalyst and inspiration for the story. This means the project is led by young people, for young people.

In 2017/18 the tour played 62 performances, 58 in schools and 4 showcases across 17 local authorities in Scotland to an audience of around 12,200 young people.

“In the 13 years that I have delivered sessions to classes and groups at this school, that is the most engaged I have ever seen the pupils in any input.” Staff member

“To keep 200 S2s engaged and focused for the whole period last thing in the day is no mean feat…this play did that.” Staff member

“Pupils were still talking about the play the next day.” Staff member

Emily Beever from the No Knives, Better Lives team at YouthLink Scotland said, “Working together with Fast Forward and Strange Town Theatre gave us the opportunity to try out a different creative method to reach young people across Scotland. From the very first performance it was clear that ‘Balisong’ would have a significant impact and the feedback to date has backed that up. As a result of watching ‘Balisong’, more than 12,000 young people in Scotland will think twice before picking up a knife.”

Kai Peacock, Fast Forward’s Arts Project Director and ‘Balisong’ Project Coordinator said, “The ‘Balisong’ project is a testament to partnership working. Young people were involved in developing the script alongside Strange Town Theatre. So far over 12,000 young people have seen the play performed in local schools across Scotland. The ‘Balisong’ project of 2017 has proved that this type of theatre is relevant, engaging and works in posing questions and empowering young people to be active in issues and areas that affect them today. It is a pleasure and honour to be involved in this project from the beginning and seeing the impact and potential change it has and continues to make.”

The popularity of ‘Balisong’ led us to grow the initiative for this year. In 2018/19, the play will perform in every local authority in Scotland reaching an estimated 25,000 young people. In addition, we have produced a new resource for secondary schools on the role and reality of the bystander. The resource uses a series of videos inspired by ‘Balisong’ to make the session more interactive.

The Herald Socety Awards ceremony takes place on Thursday 1st November. Tickets to the ceremony can be purchased here

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