A THEATRE company in Ramsbottom has made it to the big time after winning a prestigious award for a challenging new play.

I Am George Massey, by Out of Context Theatre was shortlisted for the ‘best play’ award at the Edinburgh Fringe Awards while Stephen Dee won the ‘best actor’ award for his starring role.

A cautionary tale, I Am George Massey tells the story of a Prestwich man who becomes radicalised by online messaging during a dark moment in his life.

Out of Context is a non-profit theatre company which aims to use local artists and actors to tell stories specific to local areas, run by director and producer Jon Walker.

Stephen said: “I think the play was important because there are many stereotypes about radicalisation and we want to challenge that.

“What happens to the main character in this play can happen to anyone and it’s important we see the signs of someone being radicalised and for people around them to do something. We need to get that message out there because it’s a very real problem and it’s not highlighted enough.

“Getting into the headspace of George Massey was quite hard because I had to use hate speech, which was challenging to write, but you have to do the research so that you can build a bridge between yourself and the character.

“Me and Jon have both been overwhelmed by the response because this was our first major show as a company and it was great for us to see audiences respond to it and seeing people moved gave us a sense of accomplishment.

“I was lucky enough to have Jon around because he keeps things calm and light because we were constantly dealing with hard-hitting subject matter that plays with your emotions. We always took it seriously but Jon made sure it didn’t get too dour in rehearsals.

“As an actor, you know that you’re going to be going up there in front of so many people and it was a great feeling to me to see that it resonated with people.”

I am George Massey debuted at the Greater Manchester Fringe in the Anthony Burgess Foundation in mid September.