Bringing the dark ghosts of Glasgow’s runaway slaves to life

Ghosts / National Theatre of Scotland
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

The National Theatre of Scotland is bringing the story of Glasgow’s slavery past to life in lockdown.

Audiences are invited to download a bespoke app and immerse themselves in Ghosts.

The digital package tells the story of a young man in 18th Century Glasgow and 500 years of resistance through the streets of Merchant City to the River Clyde.

Using visuals and sound design, Ghosts will lead audiences on a physical and emotional journey through the heart of modern Glasgow. 

The story was  inspired by research at University of Glasgow to uncover the plight of runaway slaves. 

In the 17th and 18th centuries, adverts were placed in newspapers for the capture of escaped enslaved people in Glasgow.

Lead artist Adura Onashile has worked with researcher Adebusola Ramsay, composer Niroshini Thambar, historian Dr Peggy Brunache.

Developers at immersive design outfit Bright Side Studios helped explore the legacies of Glasgow’s past through augmented reality to tell the story.

Ghosts
Adverts were placed in newspapers for the capture of escaped enslaved people.

Adura Onashile said: “The young man that audiences will follow is our attempt to make real, over 500 years of history, rebellion, resistance and protest. 

“When enslaved Africans liberated themselves from their masters, they started a process that continues today.

“We don’t know what happened to him, and history hasn’t afforded him a name or presence, but this is our attempt at saying that he existed, and though we can’t be sure whether he ever found the refuge he was seeking, this is our attempt to put his ghost to rest.”

‘The young man that audiences will follow is our attempt to make real, over 500 years of history, rebellion, resistance and protest’

Adura Onashile

Glasgow has begun to acknowledge its former ties to the slave trade. 

Last year the University of Glasgow became one of the first educational institutions in the United Kingdom to attempt to openly atone for its historical links to the slave trade, announcing that it would pay £20 million as part of a restorative justice scheme.

Adura Onashile, an award-winning Glasgow based writer, actor and director, has been developing the idea for Ghosts for about seven years. 

Ghosts
The story was inspired by research at University of Glasgow to uncover the plight of runaway slaves. 

  • How to access Ghosts: The app can be downloaded from either the App Store for Apple or Google Play for Android devices between April 12 and 25. Price: £4.99 Details of accessible versions will be available on nationaltheatrescotland.com in April.
From our Twitter page