Big Issue Vendor

Cardboard Citizens premiere new show shining a light on homeless deaths

The homelessness theatre company will use their Fringe stint to explore the real lives of people who have lived and died on UK streets

Homelessness theatre company Cardboard Citizens will hit this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe with a new play dealing with homeless lives – and the scale of largely unrecorded homeless deaths.

Following the success of critically-acclaimed Cathy in 2017 – the company’s revival of Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home – Bystanders will tell the true-life stories of people who died on the streets of the UK.

Audiences can look forward to hearing the “true stories and reasoned speculations” about the lives and deaths of of a Windrush generation boxer, a Polish migrant and a man with a bottle of gin and a television in his shopping trolley.

Writer, director and Cardboard Citizens founder Adrian Jackson said the show will be a “theatrical eulogy, part commemoration, part celebration, part condemnation, part post-mortem, part intra-vitam, around homeless lives and deaths and the causes of both”.

He added: “These stories remind us how much is to be done.”

Last year the Bureau for Investigative Journalism exposed the shocking rate of homeless deaths across the UK. As many as 800 homeless men and women died between October 2017 and March 2019.

Each cast member has their own personal experience of homelessness, though this isn’t used as source material for the play. Every actor performs as multiple characters.

Cardboard Citizens has been producing and touring theatre work for more than 28 years and has collaborated with prestigious industry names like the Royal Shakespeare Company and English National Opera. Its work is based off a collection of theatre techniques designed to push social and political change.

Tickets are now on sale for Bystanders at Summerhall (Tech Cube 0). The show previews on July 31 and August 1, then runs from August 2-25.