In June 2012 Don Walls’ son Peter died at the St. Leonards Hospice in York. Peter suffered from schizophrenia and in spite of having a home in his father’s house, he was often more comfortable living on the streets of York where he made a life for himself and developed many friendships. Thousands of residents and visitors would have walked past Peter as he made a corner for himself in a sheltered place. Don is a teacher and educator and worked with young people with learning differences. He listened and learned about Peter’s life and how he and his friends were treated both by passers-by, and more importantly, by officialdom.
In The Beggars of York Don Walls gives personality and distinction to a group of people who live on the margins. Our politicians want to demonise them as failures in our society but in truth it is our society that has failed a group of people who no more want to be living on the streets as you or I but who are there due to circumstance and misfortune. The Beggars of York is a story of everyday people dealing with officialdom while there is yet another crisis in their lives. The only difference here is that these folks are homeless and destitute.
First performed as part of the York Theatre Royal’s Takeover Festival.
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