The mission statement of ‘The 56’ is to preserve the memories of survivors and witnesses of the Bradford City Stadium Disaster on the 11th of May 1985. We hope to achieve this by introducing a younger generation to this cornerstone in northern history. Born and bred in Yorkshire, the team at FYSA Theatre wanted to take this opportunity to share a story that represents the spirit of the place they grew up.

The piece is written in a verbatim style. The term verbatim refers to the origins of the text spoken in the play. The words of real people are recorded or transcribed by a dramatist during an interview or research process, or are appropriated from existing records such as the transcripts of an official enquiry. They are then arranged into a form of dramatic presentation that preserves the integrity of the testimony. All of the testimonies we receive will be presented in their original form. Nothing will be fictionalised.

The reason that we have decided to approach ‘The 56’ in the verbatim style is because we believe that the testimonies speak for themselves. After conducting several interviews from witnesses of the day, the intention of this piece is to give these people a voice. FYSA has specifically interviewed survivors across the country to collect a diverse range of narratives and experiences from the 11th of May. The text will be formed solely from their testimonies; there will be no embellishments. The role of the actors is to act as a mouthpiece for these people and honestly represent their experiences. Unlike a normal play, our aim is not to dramatise, but recreate.

Representing the stories of the survivors is not an undertaking that we take lightly. Throughout our research, we have always consulted our interviewees and ensured that any information they disclose is treated with the utmost integrity.

The aim of this piece is to create an environment in which the audience can gain a greater understanding of the experiences of the people we have interviewed. We hope that in recounting the stories of The Bradford City Fire, we can pass on the legacy it left onto a younger generation. Another angle ‘The 56’ will explore is Yorkshire spirit. A recurring theme in our research has been how, in times of adversity, the Football Club and the local community came together. We will do this by looking at the aftermath of the fire and how – 30 years later – this community is still thriving.

Born and bred in Yorkshire, we want to take this opportunity to share a story that represents the spirit of the place we grew up. Furthermore, in the 30th anniversary of the disaster, we want take this opportunity to ensure the legacy of the 56.