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Cardboard Citizens premiere new show raising awareness of homeless deaths


Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

BYSTANDERS by the UK’s leading homelessness theatre company, Cardboard Citizens, premieres at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019.

Inspired by true stories of people who have lived or died on the streets, it runs at Summerhall (Tech Cube 0) from August 2 to August 25 (not 12 or 19).

Written and directed by Adrian Jackson, this new production is based entirely on personal accounts, court reports, newspaper articles and imagination.

A Windrush generation boxer, a Polish migrant marked with a tattoo and a man with a bottle of gin and a television in his shopping trolley. These are just some of the true stories and reasoned speculations about the lives and deaths of homeless people explored in Bystanders.

Bystanders follows the success of Cathy in 2017 which drew significant acclaim from audiences and critics alike.

After last year’s revelations by The Bureau for Investigative Journalism on the largely unreported and unrecorded scale of homeless deaths in the UK – with the staggering reality of 800 homeless men and women having died between October 2017 and March 2019 – Bystanders gives those unheard voices the stage in true-life stories told with authenticity, wit and sadness.

All of the cast have different personal experiences of homelessness – though these are not the subject of the play. Each actor portrays multiple characters in the performance of these diverse histories, laying bare a callousness which may shock.

Cardboard Citizens has been producing and touring theatre work for over 28 years, collaborating with theatres and theatre companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company and English National Opera. The company is the UK’s leading practitioner of Theatre of the Oppressed, a collection of techniques created originally by Augusto Boal in which theatre is used as an instrument for social and political change.

Adrian Jackson, Writer, Director and Founder of Cardboard Citizens says: “Bystanders 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. These stories remind us how much is to be done.”

Bystanders has set and costume design by Carla Goodman, lighting and video design by Sarah Readman and sound design by Arun Ghosh.

Bystanders is suitable for ages 12+.

Tickets are now on sale at