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Coronation Street's Julie Hesmondhalgh bringing Black Roses to London

Julie Hesmondhalgh

Preview by Jack Foley

SOON to be departing Coronation Street legend Julie Hesmondhalgh is to bring acclaimed play Black Roses to London’s Southbank Centre in March 2014.

Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster will be playing at the Foyer Spaces as part of the Literature Spring Season 2014. It runs from Monday, March 24 until Friday, March 28, 2014.

Simon Armitage’s play is described as an elegy to Sophie Lancaster who, on August 11, 2007, was beaten unconscious in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, and later died from her injuries in hospital.

She was 20-years-old, had just passed her A-Levels and was working out what to do with her life. She was killed because she dressed differently.

The production stars Rachel Austin as Sophie and Hesmondhalgh (best known as Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street) as Sylvia.

Indeed, it was appearing in the play and the subsequent response that it generated that convinced Hesmondhalgh the time was right to depart the long-running soap and concentrate on theatre.

Her Street character has become one of the soap’s best-loved characters since debuting 16 years ago and will almost certainly provoke a tearful response when she departs after a battle with cancer next month.

But Hesmondhalgh recently told the BBC that despite being extremely nervous of appearing in Black Roses at Manchester’s Royal Exchange studio initially, the experience proved really rewarding.

“When I started to do the play and saw the effect it had, that was quite mindblowing for me,” she said. “People were really affected by it and that really shifted something in me – that immediacy.”

It was a few months after completing the Manchester run of the play that she decided to hand in her notice on Corrie. And she’s diving into theatre.

Prior to taking Black Roses on tour and bringing it to London, she will appear in another play at the Royal Exchange – on this occasion the drama Blindsided, by acclaimed playwright Simon Stephens, which follows the story of a young woman whose life is devastated after falling in love with a man in Stockport in the 1970s.

Don’t bet against that one winging its way to London at some point too.

To find out more about Black Roses, visit the Southbank Centre website