Play hopes to bring curtain down on sectarianism

The play has received a cash boost and will be performed at the Citizens. Picture: Richard Campbell
The play has received a cash boost and will be performed at the Citizens. Picture: Richard Campbell
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A PLAY performed by youngsters that explores religious tension in Scotland through a tale about two Glaswegian boys on different side of the Rangers and Celtic divide is among the anti-sectarianism projects to receive a share of a £3 million government fund.

Dozens of projects aimed at tackling the problem of sectarian attitudes and behaviours have been handed the cash, with housing associations, youth and football groups among those benefiting.

However, in one of the main awards announced, the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow is receiving more than £150,000 towards the staging of the musical Divided City that features a cast of young people drawn from schools in the area.

Set against the tense backdrop of the Orange Order marching season, two boys on different sides of the Old Firm divide, Graham and Joe, make a secret pact to help a young asylum seeker and his Glaswegian girlfriend when all they really want to do is play football together.

The Citizens Theatre describes the production as a “gripping tale about two boys, one Celtic fan, one Rangers fan, who must find their own answers in a divided world”.

Funding announced by the Scottish Government yesterday will be used to keep the production running and ensure more schools get the chance to see the play, which is based on an award-winning book by Theresa Breslin. Earlier this year, a study suggested a large majority of Scots believe sectarianism is still a problem for the country and that football is the biggest factor deemed to be contributing to the tension.

In the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, the sport was the factor most commonly referred to for fuelling sectarianism, with 88 per cent of people mentioning it and 55 per cent saying it was the main contributor.

The finding emerged as 88 per cent also said sectarianism is a problem for Scotland, although two-thirds (69 per cent believe it is only problem in specific areas, such as Glasgow and the west.

Anti-sectarian awareness campaign groups such as Sense Over Sectarianism and Nil By Mouth also received grants of £170,000 and £75,000 respectively from the £2.3m fund allocated for this year so far, with a further £700,000 still to be handed out.

It follows funding of £9m that has been granted to groups over the last three years.

Nil by Mouth campaign director Dave Scott called on the government to introduce a policy of strict liability, where football clubs are held responsible for the sectarian behaviour of their fans, as well as making funds available to tackle the problem.

He added: “This good work will only go so far however, and we still need to see attitude changes in key areas of society.

“For example, we also want to see the government put pressure on Scottish football to introduce strict liability at matches as recommended by its own advisory group on sectarianism.”

Announcing the latest funding, community safety minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “No one should have to face discrimination or prejudice in any form in 21st-century Scotland. It is never acceptable.”