Tom Cain, from Southport, achieved First Class Honours in 2021 in Drama. His play, called 97+, is centered around the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and aims to educate audiences and dispel any untruths.
The festival aims to champion new writing talent and will take place at the iconic St Luke’s (Bombed Out Church) in Liverpool, with the adapted version of Tom’s play being performed on Sunday 8th May.
Tom has known since an early age that he wanted to write a play about the Hillsborough disaster and wanted the focus to be on the survivors of the tragedy. Tom took his inspiration for this play from his Grandad who, as a survivor of the Hillsborough disaster, watched the events unfold in 1989 and didn’t attend another football game until his grandkids were born 20 years later. Teaming up with the Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance, Tom interviewed many survivors whose shocking accounts of the day formed the basis for the storyline and characters.
Tom said: “I knew I wanted the basis of the play to be about the survivors and the effect the day had on people. At first, I wanted it to be present day but when I looked at key timelines, I thought 2012 was a good place for it to be set as this was when Operation Resolve uncovered that many survivors’ statements had been altered by the police. The play focuses on two main characters, John and Steve, who both struggle with their mental health due to the trauma they witnessed at Hillsborough and looks at the different ways they deal with this”.
Tom attended an open day at Edge Hill and was so impressed by the beautiful surroundings and campus that he cancelled his appointments with his other university options. Talking about the Drama course he said: “The teachers themselves have all been professionals in the field in the past, all with different skill sets such as acting, directing and playwriting. A lot of them had been trained in different methods of acting so it was really useful to have access to the different combinations of knowledge. I particularly liked that you could choose what you get assessed on for your dissertation you could do anything from a research paper to a performance or writing a play like I did. The course was intellectually stimulating, practical and I enjoyed working with people from a variety of backgrounds. A highlight has been casting one of my Edge Hill lecturers in the play”.
Providing advice for current Drama students, Tom said: “Take everything in while you’re at Edge Hill and explore all the different possibilities. Give everything a go; if you want to be an actor that’s great but still try out directing, writing, costume and prop design, try it all as there are so many avenues. It’s important to make use of the Careers team while at Edge Hill as I found them very useful in tailoring my CV for different roles. Finally, get your name out there and make use of social media groups as it’s a great networking tool as I have found a lot work there.”
Tom has gone on to do a myriad of roles within the field including children’s entertainer, teaching workshops in schools on drama and violence reduction, along with running his own drama club in Southport. Looking to the future, Tom wants to see how far he can take the full version of his play 97+ as well as following his passions for directing and education.
Buy your tickets to Tom’s play here
Visit Edge Hill University’s website to find out more about our BA (Hons) in Drama.
You can follow Tom’s Facebook page for more information @TomCainTheatre