The 56

Written By Matt Woodhead & Gemma Wilson

Developed with The Lowry and The Civic in Barnsely

‘Nobody Dies in Football Matches in Fires. It Doesn’t Happen’

At 3.40pm on May 11th 1985, a small fire broke out in the main stand at Valley Parade football ground during the last game of the season.  Within four minutes, the wooden structure was ablaze.

Adapted solely from over sixty real-life testimonies, this bold and pertinent piece of documentary theatre pays homage to the supporters who lost their lives in one of the darkest days in British footballing history.

On the 30th anniversary of the disaster, ‘The 56’ examines the solidarity, strength and community in the face of overwhelming tragedy.

Shortlisted for ‘Best Drama’ in the BBC Radio Drama Awards 2017
North East Theatre Guide’s Runner up for ‘Best Drama of 2016’
Directors Guild Award for Best Newcomer
Spotlight Award for Most Promising Actress
Judges Award for Best Ensemble (NSDF)

This is a challenging piece, certainly not entertainment in the precise sense of the word. It sets out to remind, to enlighten and to pay tribute both to the dead and to those without whom that death toll would inevitably have been much higher. It tells of how individuals, a football club, a city and a county were struck by disaster, of how they conducted themselves so courageously on the day and of how they gradually recovered in the years ahead. In this, it is totally successful – a theatrical experience not to be missed.

The Reviews Hub

The complete absence of movement is a strong directorial choice from Matthew Woodhead and it makes the piece exceptionally powerful, forcing the audience to meet the unflinching eyes of the performers as they share such traumatic accounts. Poignant and utterly haunting.

A Younger Theatre

The 56 is made with sensitivity and intelligence, and it’s eloquent about both community and the act of commemoration. This is definitely a company to watch.

The Stage

Intensely funny... a small gem of a play from a writer to watch"

The Telegraph

The 56 packs raw emotional power

The Sunday Times