In 2014, the Rotherham Child Sexual Exploitation scandal erupted with the publishing of the Alexis Jay report. Rotherham – where Andy was living at the time – erupted, with emergency meetings at local mosques, social workers talking late into the night, racist protests by the EDL, Sky News outside the local naan shop, racist attacks in the street, and career of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner publicly ripped apart.
What came out of the Jay report was a saga of desperate social workers trying to get the attention of a disinterested Police Force and senior Council members.
Did You Call the Police didn’t pull punches. It aimed to level accusations of institutional sexism, misogyny and classism at the police, who could have stopped these crimes for years, but for whom the brutalisation of young people was widely known to be thought of as just ‘scum on scum’ crime.
Our performers guided he audience into a holding room, hung with tarpaulin, before leading them directly into our main space: a pitch black void with a centre space cordoned off by tape a few feet from the walls.
They enter, and the performance is all around them, appearing as fleeting flashes in the dark. We used interpretive movements, sounds, and actions, as well as some dialogue and a roaring surround-sound soundscape, forcing the audience to look around them, into the darkness itself.
At the end all three performers us leave the room and turn on the lights, revealing the space as an evidence locker containing items from a childhood. The voice of Shaun Wright is then played – the Police Commissioner at the time – and the information on the information sheet is read aloud.
THE STAGE: – “Forest Sounds … break spine-bristling new ground … demonstrating that immersive theatre still retains the power to shock your socks off”
NOW THEN: – “It was an intense experience that combined lighting effects, recordings, live action and brilliant audience control to produce a work that was tense and exciting to be a part of whilst making and inviting intelligent political and social comment. If you see a police officer wandering around the building, follow him.”
HORROR BOX: – “a devastatingly powerful performance piece made in response to the Rotherham child abuse scandal. It utilised total darkness and a distressing mixture of warped sounds, including sound-bites taken directly from the report, the shrill sound of a paper shredder, and an ominous, steady beat. Intimidating, frightening and provocative, the real impact of this show came at the end, when the lights were turned on to reveal a child’s bedroom scene.”
SHEFFIELD STAR: – “Thought-provoking and clever