Glasgow knife-culture play inspired by Homer’s Iliad

Fleeto: Illiad based play about Glasgow knife-culture. Picture: Complimentary
Fleeto: Illiad based play about Glasgow knife-culture. Picture: Complimentary
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A play about Glasgow’s “knife culture” inspired by the Greek drama the Iliad, which contains a warning about strong language and its challenging content, is one of the highlights of Scotland’s international theatre festival for children and young people starting next week.

• The play will be performed as part of the Imaginate Festival in Edinburgh

• Festival director said the play is “an important discussion to be having with the audience.”

Fleeto, written and directed by Paddy Cunneen, is to be shown at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, was written for an adult audience but is to be performed for the first time for those aged 13 upwards as part of the Imaginate Festival which runs from 6-13 May.

It tells the tale of Mackie, a teenager, brought face-to-face with the mother of a student he stabbed to death in Glasgow city centre after returning a notebook to her containing the young man’s private thoughts.

Mr Cunneen, said his award-winning play was entirely suitable for youngsters.

“It is certainly appropriate. It is an opportunity to vicariously experience something you wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s not offering any great solution and has no answer to promulgate,” he said.

The play, whose title “Fleeto” is slang for a gang looking for violence, mirrors part of Homer’s the Iliad, the ancient Greek poem set during the ten-year Trojan War, where King Priam pleads with Achilles to return the body of his son Hector, killed in battle.

“I don’t think there is any great contrast between knife culture and the Iliad. Sometimes there has been a glorification of the ideals of the warrior passed down the years with little criticism. But in many ways it could be seen as a petty dispute resolved through violence,” Mr Cunneen said.

“In Fleeto, Mackie - who has never owned up to the stabbing - meets his victim’s mother who asks him to help her find the gang to see if her son had said something at the end of his life, she’s trying to find out what her son’s last words were. By giving the mother a moleskin notebook in which her son had written about his life, Mackie was “connecting” with her and, in a way, returning her son.”

The award-winning play, written in 2008 has been performed in venues ranging from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution as well as touring overseas.

Tony Reekie, director of the Imaginate festival, supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council, said Fleeto was the sort of work youngsters could “get to grips with”.

“It’s a play about serious things, a play about consequences and a play about what happens when you do certain things. Sometimes plays which are shown to young people can be a bit too neat. But this is a play about how messy things can be and is an important discussion to be having with the audience.”

Tina Woolnough, Edinburgh representative of the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said: “There is a massive gap in the market for teenagers around 13-17 year olds. It’s absolutely right they see challenging things so long as it is made clear in the advertising for tickets what is involved. One thirteen year old is different from another. If they know what’s involved they can make an informed decision and if they don’t like it they can get up and leave.”

• Tickets for Fleeto, 7, 8, 9 May 2013, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, from www.traverse.co.uk or 0131 228 1404.