'TOAST' drama for schools to highlight the dangers of fireworks

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An informative play about the dangers of misusing fireworks will be performed to around 1,500 pupils in schools across Edinburgh during the run up to Bonfire Night.

TOAST shows pupils how dangerous fireworks can be, as well as airing issues such as peer pressure, bullying and managing aggression.

The production involves two actors playing 11 different characters, with the scene shifting between a hospital, a home, a school and a housing estate. The principal character is drawn into an ill-fated escapade with stolen fireworks, with ultimately tragic consequences.

The play, originally commissioned by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in Northern Ireland, has been adapted for Edinburgh and is being staged by the Strange Theatre Company. It lasts for 30 minutes and has been organised by staff working in the City of Edinburgh Council’s West Neighbourhood Office.

It will run until Friday 1st November and will be performed to all S2 pupils in sixteen Edinburgh schools including one special school, that is approximately 1,500 young people aged 12 to 13 years old.

The weeks leading up to Bonfire Night are usually a time of increased complaints to police and councillors about excessive fireworks noise. Elderly people, the very young and domestic pets are often left particularly distressed by fireworks noise.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Environment Leader, said: "Bonfire Night is great fun and families enjoy the spectacle of fireworks as the nights get darker. However, fireworks can be extremely dangerous if handled improperly.

“The play ‘Toast’ is an excellent way of helping young people understand the risks and dangers of misusing fireworks. We will be carrying out test purchasing in shops where fireworks are on sale to make sure that retailers are adhering to the legislation.”

William MacDonald, Group Commander for The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Bonfire Night is the busiest time of year for the fire service and we are urging parents and carers to be mindful of the potential risks from fireworks and the need to heed fire safety advice to ensure this year’s Guy Fawkes celebrations stay safe.

"We work closely with partners agencies including the City of Edinburgh Council to raise awareness of the risks and dangers associated with bonfires and fireworks as well as delivering fire safety advice to schoolchildren across the area.  Toast, which highlights the dangers associated with fireworks, is an excellent example of this type of initiative.

“Every year, hundreds of people in the UK are injured by fires and misusing fireworks which are very similar to explosives. Most at risk are unsupervised children, particularly those who play with fire or who get too close to bonfires. We want everyone to enjoy this time of year but to stay safe and advise they stick to supervised bonfires and firework displays.”

'TOAST' is being performed at the following secondary schools: Drummond High School, Portobello High School, Castlebrae High School, Craigmount High School, Craigroyston High School, Queensferry High School, Liberton High School, Gorgie Mills School, Currie High School, Gracemount High School, Leith Academy, Holyrood High School, St Augustine’s High School, Firrhill High School, Tynecastle High School and Wester Hailes Education Centre. The play has been adapted for use in Edinburgh schools and is aimed at a target audience of S2 pupils (12 and 13-year-olds).