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Battle of Preston reenactment event The Last Battle to continue despite Paris attacks

Posted on - 15th November, 2015 - 3:47pm | Author - | Posted in - City Centre, Events, History, News, Preston City Centre, Preston Council
Soldiers will be in action in Church Street

Soldiers will be in action in Church Street

An arts group and Preston City Council have defended their decision to continue with a street theatre performance of the Battle of Preston anniversary.

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The Last Battle, a light, sound and performance of the 1715 skirmish between the Jacobites and government forces, takes place throughout the city centre.

In light of the events in Paris on Friday night the city council had discussed cancelling the event.

Councillor Veronica Afrin, executive member for culture and leisure services for Preston City Council said: “What happened in the streets of Preston 300 years ago is incredibly relevant.

“We are incredibly saddened by what took place in Paris on Friday, as well as Beirut on Thursday, but it further emphasises the importance of learning from history to ensure change for our future.

“The dialogue that is encouraged by events such as these is vitally important and we hope that it helps strengthen our community and understanding as we move forward.”​

Related: Preston celebrates the 300th anniversary of last battle in England

The performance, organised by They Eat Culture, will help to ‘make sense’ of the events of Paris according to the arts groups creative director Ruth Heritage.

She said: “The international-scale volatility that has tragically been demonstrated this week, in Paris, and in Beirut and Kenya, has brought the horrors of war to the forefront of discussions.

“We believe that the presentation of an artistic, creative rendering of the historic events of the Jacobite uprising of 1715 echo through to today.

“We think that opening up discussion about ‘how would you feel if a battle happened on your doorstep’ is a timely and crucial conversation to be having in our communities, with our friends and neighbours, those with whom we share beliefs, and those with whom our perspectives differ.

“When we chose to undertake this project, we wanted to open up a dialogue about what happens when war is on our doorstep. We want to openly talk about our diverse communities and the challenges we all face when wandering through the moral maze of contemporary culture.

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“We want to present solidarity with peoples in situations of conflict and crisis. It’s only by talking about it that we can maybe understand how to try and solve issues of cultural difference.

“We’ve used many terms when talking about the Preston events of 1715: war, battle, riot, uprising, militia, army, force. This doesn’t change the fact that people died then and now because of differences in belief, and we need to talk about it to make sense, and try to move beyond together.”

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “The decision to proceed with Sunday’s Last Battle event was not taken lightly, as everyone involved was keenly aware of the sensitive nature and timing of its content. However, it was decided that the recent attack on Paris made remembering the Battle of Preston all the more relevant, as it reminds us that our community has also experienced terror in its centre.

“But also, the Last Battle event, as produced by They Eat Culture, was designed to promote a message of peace; to provide a warning against war; and to initiate thought and discussion about these important issues.”

The Last Battle takes place from 4.30pm on Sunday in Church Street and runs until 6.30pm.

Will you be going to the event? Do you think it should still be going ahead? Let us know in the comments below

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