A Monumental Task

Bristol made history in 2020 when, as part of a Black Lives Matter march, protestors toppled a controversial statue of Merchant, Philanthropist and Slave Trader, Edward Colston. 

The event rippled across the world, bringing a longstanding contention over historical monuments into the public consciousness and sparking a current of divided opinions.

Bristol Old Vic Heritage Department, in collaboration with Mango Riot Theatre, took the debate to Bristol's secondary schools through a series of drama-based workshops.

AMT is a Theatre in Education project that engages young people and their wider communities in discussion around our shared colonial history. Each school group is tasked with creating their own town and devising characters to populate it. Two sessions in, they learn the uncomfortable truth that their town’s founder made his money through the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Not only that, but a statue of him has been present in their town the whole time and no one has acknowledged it. In the remaining sessions, it is up to the young people to decide what to do with the statue. And then they get to do it…

The exhibition, situated in the Theatre’s Pit passageway displays their various responses. 

Photography by Chelsey Cliff

This exhibition was made possible thanks to a generous contribution from Ernie Cuss. All our heritage work is made possible thanks to National Lottery players