Loading Events
  • This event has passed.
Performance

04 Apr 20247:00 pm – 9:30 pm

The Trial of William Merrilees

James Arnott Theatre

The Trial of William Merrilees

7:00–9:30pm, 4 April 2024
James Arnott Theatre, Gilmorehill Halls, 9 University Avenue G12 8QQ

The Trial of William Merrilees is a one-night-only, unscripted performance, where you get to decide the verdict.

You are invited to act as jury, hear both parties of the case, ask questions of the witnesses, and decide the fate of controversial figures from Scotland’s hidden queer history.

All performers are students from the University of Glasgow, studying and researching theatre, social and political sciences, and law.

PERFORMANCE DESCRIPTION

When law and desire clash, which side do you choose?

Edinburgh, 1934. In a city plagued by illicit acts, detective inspector William Merrilees wages a four-year war against deviants committing sexual offences in public places such as urinals, bathhouses, parks, clubs, and hotels. He dedicates himself to investigation, under-cover work, surveillance and raids, all in efforts to procure evidence, secure convictions and clear the streets of such deviance.

At that time, homosexuality is illegal. Merrilees’s law enforcement campaign targets queer men who are forced to use such alternative, clandestine spaces to express their desires, find companionship, and fall in love. For their actions, they are persecuted by the authorities, face criminal charges, and incarcerated.

90 years later, Glasgow, 2024. In a performance of Judicial Theatre, detective inspector William Merrilees will be charged with Misconduct in Public Office for the alleged abuse of power in his campaign against homosexuality. To resolve the conflict, the audience is invited to act as jury, hear both parties of the case, ask questions of the witnesses, and decide the fate of a controversial figure from Scotland’s hidden queer history.

Content advisory: The performance will include explicit references to sex and sexuality, and police abuse of power.

This event is based on a collaboration with Dr. Jeff Meek from University of Glasgow’s School of Social and Political Sciences and his book Queer Trades, Sex and Society: Male Prostitution and the War on Homosexuality in Interwar Scotland.

This project is supported by Thinking Culture funding 2023-24, awarded to PhD student Kfir Lapid.

Accessibility

Information on the James Arnott Theatre can be found on Accessable.