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Edward Bond sweats blood over play for school

EDWARD BOND, the playwright whose work was once described as "nothing short of propaganda for sadism and sexual perversion," has agreed to write a play for pupils at a Cambridge comprehensive.

The drama is inspired by Euripides's Medea, a bloody tale of revenge and child killing. Sixteen Year 10 students from Manor community college will take part alongside professional actors.

English teacher Alison New said: "We were walking through the school when Edward suggested it to me. I nearly passed out. As an English teacher, it really was like Beethoven saying, 'I think I'll write you a piece of music.'

"I think he was enchanted by the straightforwardness of the pupils. They are natural performers."

Provisionally called The Children, the play will be premiered at Manor in December. It will then be taken on tour by Classworks, a professional drama group based at the college, one of whose trustees is Mr Bond.

Mr Bond came to prominence in 1965 with Saved, which was famously banned by the Lord Chamberlain and became notorious for its depiction of a baby being stoned to death in its pram.

Subsequent highpoints of his career include Narrow Road to the Deep North ( labelled in the Independent on Sunday as "the one with five dead babies and a disembowelling" ) and Early Morning ( "The one where Queen Victoria is a cannibal and has a lesbian affair with Florence Nightingale" ).

Mr Bond said his new play would break the silence of the children in Medea - slaughtered by their mother to take revenge on her husband.

"The adults' text will be written, but the young people will create most of their text themselves," he said.

"The play will put them into fundamental searching situations which, in one way or another, at some time, everyone must face.

"Our humanity depends on how we act in those situations and the way we answer the questions they provoke."

Mr Bond is currently ensconced on a boat at a secret location writing the play.

Manor community college, which draws on the large council estates in north Cambridge, is near the bottom of the city's league tables but is building a reputation as a centre of excellence in drama.

An application for specialist colleg status in the performing arts is in the pipeline, as is a request for lottery funds to improve its drama facilities.

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