Rise Up

by Lisa Evans

Age advice: 13+

"Rise Up cuts like a knife... [Lisa] Evans' inspired script... Natalie Wilson's production moves at a breakneck speed... ★★★★★"

The Morning Star review, "Rise Up"

"Rise Up stands firmly in line with Theatre Centre’s mission to empower youth activism through the arts, as it asks us to think about segregation in relation to the present."

A Younger Theatre review, "Rise Up"

A new play from the writer and director of the Writers Guild of Great Britain Best New Play for Young Audiences 2011

The tide was turning – though local governments disagreed, it would soon be illegal to segregate black Americans from white Americans on public buses, in waiting rooms or in restaurants.

And yet – in the early 1960s, many states across the south of America kept discriminating against African-Americans…

In modern day Britain, four actor-storytellers tell the stories of the Freedom Riders – principled citizens riding buses across Alabama and Mississippi, drawing attention to this illegal discrimination, and facing up to terrifying violence with peaceful resistance.

The story of the Freedom Riders is one of ordinary people becoming a civil rights movement, taking on the establishment and changing the world. In a time of Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin, and Mark Duggan, what does it mean for people to come together and rise up?

Take a look at what people have been saying about Rise Up:

Suitability: Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 | Ages 13+ | Years 8 to 13

Potential subject links: Drama and Performing Arts, English and History at GCSE and A-Level, and PSHE/Citizenship. Click here for more details.


Emma Dennis-Edwards
Sam Kacher
Kimisha Lewis
Edward Nkom

Creative Team

Director Natalie Wilson
Writer Lisa Evans
Dramaturg Gwenda Hughes
Designer Emma Donovan
Sound Designer Dan Steele
Lighting Designer Charlie Lucas
Voice Coach Joel Trill
Movement Director Frank WIlson
Company Stage Manager Victoria Heathcock

Theatre Centre is thrilled to be working with Lisa Evans to produce Rise Up, a play about Freedom Riders - a group of black and white students who rode buses across the southern states of America, breaking the rules of segregation.

Lisa has previously written other plays for Theatre Centre, including the incredibly successful The Day the Waters Came. A previous version of Rise Up was developed in 2013 as part of Theatre Centre's Tomorrow's World programme in partnership with Rose Bruford College.

Lisa Evans trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Speech and Drama after which she worked in radio, stage and TV. She performed with the National Theatre, in the West End and in theatre in the USA before becoming a playwright. She was Resident Writer at Theatre Centre in 1983/4 and at Temba Theatre Company in 1986/7. From 2009-11 she was Associate Writer at Theatre by the Lake Keswick. She is currently Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Brunel University.

Arts Award and Artsmark

Theatre Centre is an Arts Award Supporter organisation: our programme of work provides young people with opportunities to achieve objectives of the Explorer, Bronze, Silver or Gold Arts Award.

A Theatre Centre production is an opportunity for young people to review a piece of live performance. We can also offer Q&A sessions with actors after performances to allow young people the opportunity to find out about artists. Alongside our productions we also offer workshops (an additional fee applies).

If you work for a school that has achieved its Artsmark status, or is working towards this, we can help. Artsmark criteria state that at least one opportunity should be "provided for all students in every year group to work with or visit an arts organisation or artist... An opportunity could be a one-off workshop or visit". Contact us for more information.

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User comments (7)

  • 'Rise-Up' came to my school theatre and performed their inspiring piece for us. I learnt a lot from the performance and am now using it for part of my Performing arts GCSE. Thanks!!

    Comment left by: Shannon - 15.11.2015 16:46

  • fabulous performance x

    Comment left by: Bonquisha - 11.11.2015 11:37

  • I thought this play was phenomenal, as there was only four of them it involved a lot of carefully timed character changes. All of these were done very slick and seamlessly. It was a variety of genres including physical theatre and spoken verse. This, for me, made it a much more interesting and diverse. I really enjoyed it, especially the rhythmic spoken verse, it created a sense of community. This play was really insightful and I particularly enjoyed the part when the hardened fighter was reduced to a small child wanted his mother after being beaten and wounded by the segregationists. I found this scene really moving and felt really connected to each character. If you haven't seen this play you should as it is a really sensational performance carried out by extremely talented actors.

    Comment left by: Kate Crawley - 18.10.2015 14:33

  • Thanks for coming to our school willow bank i thought all of yous was brilliant and it was amazing how u changed ur voices to diffrent characters and i think the story grate because we shall all have our say in life.

    Comment left by: angel - 14.10.2015 14:15

  • **************************************
    thanks for coming to are school...
    the acting was good...
    come back son :)

    Comment left by: jessey - 14.10.2015 14:13

  • i thought that it was really intresting, it was really good how you changed your voices. It was the first show that I've ever seen and I'd definately see another one - especially if Sam was in it x

    Comment left by: kiera - 14.10.2015 13:22

  • I thought this play was really fantastic. The multi-roling was excellent and I loved the use of narrative speech which had an almost spoken word/slam poetry feel about it with the style of the rhymes. The repetition of lines like 'it's how you move the air before you' (that was one of my favourite monologues!) was really amazing. The set was simple but clever, and the acting brought tears to my eyes several times- in particular the section with the little white Southern girl and the boy with the head injury. I also really liked the static bursts of clapping for the President speeches and the use of accents to switch characters. The simple hat costumes were clever and the interaction with the audience was super. The bursts of song were also beautiful and overall it was an empowering, thought-provoking and thoroughly interesting and educational piece of theatre. Thank you for this wonderful experience.

    Comment left by: Kate Whittington - 28.09.2015 20:28

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