Terriers – a play by Maurice Bessman

What do you do when you’re fifteen and live on an estate where you get street cred for being in a gang? What do you do when you’ve got the chance of a decent future but the pull of the gang is too strong? And what are you gonna do when one of the gang passes you a gun and tells you, honour is at stake; use the gun to show you’re one of us?

Terriers is a play which deals with these problems. Aldo is bright, witty, and a gifted sportsman. His family has high hopes for him, but he’s having a tough time trying to break away from his mates who want him to be in his local gang, The Terriers. Not that he’s too scared to join, but they are involved in a tit for tat gang war with a crew just across the avenue called The DH Crew.

Terriers explore the immense pressure Aldo, and boys like him, are under from gang mates and his girlfriend. The play throws up the moral dilemmas and life changing decisions that some young boys and girls have to make.

The show was originally commissioned by Merseyside Police in 2008 using partnership funding, and to date over 120,000 young people from secondary and primary schools across Merseyside and the U.K. have seen the play and studied the primary and secondary educational packages. Written by Maurice Bessman and directed by Miriam Mussa, the show has been used by Merseyside Police as a way of reaching young people.

As well as touring secondary and primary schools across Merseyside we have also had partnerships in Croydon, Hampshire, Telford and Manchester

36 thoughts on “Terriers – a play by Maurice Bessman

  1. We showed this play to all of our year 9 students. The play is fast moving and loud from the start which gained their attention. The characters were very believable and ‘real’ and the story line was interesting from start to finish. The issues within the play were relevant to many of our students and made them all think about what they might possibly get involved with and the implications that may come with being involved. Thanks very much for coming all the way to South Wales to deliver this important play.

  2. What a wonderful production from start to finish. Our students (year 10 & 11) where in awe as they watched the show, Students where engaged and I even saw a few get up to move closer to the action! Students who sometimes find it difficult to engage sat totally fixated and fully engrossed in the show which is great. From an organisers point of view communication was outstanding which allowed to complete smooth sailing form start to finish! I know this is going to become an annual event booked on out school calendar every year!!

  3. We were delighted to have secured a performance for our students at Ellesmere Park High in Salford. it was brilliant – we packed the hall and the atmosphere was electric. The performance was moving and at a level that the students could understand. Messages like this delivered in this way are so powerful….Anyone who has the opportunity to host this talented array of actors should make it happen. We are following up with the Teachers’ Toolkit. Many thanks to all involved.
    Heather Aaron

  4. Once again it has been an honour to have the Terriers perform to Year 10 students at The Academy of St. Nicholas. A powerful performance with a hard hitting message. Our students were engaged throughout. I highly recommend the Terriers to any school & it is a fantastic addition to our PSHCE programme.

  5. The Terriers play was a fantastic experience for all our year 9 and 10 students. The story was really well written and entertainingly portrayed, but with a strong and purposeful message,which although not resonating with all of our students, certainly gave food for thought and discussion for all. Students were both engrossed and affected by the play. The characters and their experiences stay with you long afterwards. I’d strongly recommend to other schools, looking at ks3 depending on the catchment and life experiences of students.

  6. An amazing response from all of our year 10 and year 9 students to the Terriers play performed here at Walkden High. A carefully thought out story depicting the life of gang members and realities of the decisions that young people have when face to face with death. A gripping tale where students were hooked from the start. Thanks to all 🙂

  7. I watched this play in a local N.W. prison with a large group of male prisoners. The play was hard hitting, thought provoking, challenging and at times moving. It kept the prisoners engaged and I’m looking forward to hearing their responses and feedback (and from prison staff) over the coming weeks. Looking forward to your future productions.

  8. We were the first audience in the current tour of Terriers and the performance was amazing. Our GCSE drama students were inspired by the hard-hitting themes, outstanding acting, slow-motion movement and realistic characters. The audience were on the edge of their seats throughout the whole performance and are still discussing the world of the DH crew and Terriers days later. Thank you so much for coming to Kirkby High School.

  9. We were lucky enough to be the first audience for this current tour of Terriers. The performance made an instant impact on our Kirkby High School pupils. The hard hitting themes, slow motion movement and outstanding acting contributed to one of the best performances I have seen in a long tome. Thanks so much!

  10. We had ‘Terriers’ perform earlier this year as part of our PSHE programme, to our year 10 cohort. The students responded really well as it was highly engaging, entertaining and gripping from the outset. The production in it’s entirely was extremely professional. It hit a lot of relevant social issues such as gang crime, peer pressure, healthy/unhealthy relationships and moral dilemmas. The actors were amazing not only in their acting but also in the way they engaged and interacted with the students in the Q&A session after the performance. The play was a main discussion point days after the performance for both the students and staff who viewed it. I am extremely excited to welcome Marcus and the actors back next year for another production.

    Many thanks,
    Aileen McParland,
    St Mary’s Catholic College.

  11. Such a fantastic performance from the Terriers project. I cannot recommend them highly enough! Our students loved the performance; performers were talented and professional, lighting was superb and the performance was hard-hitting but thoroughly enjoyable by both students and staff. Well worth a watch!

  12. Absolutely hard hitting play which the students can very much relate to.
    The pressures on the streets were portrayed wondefully by the actors.
    It definitely gets you thinking both as a member of staff as well as the students.
    It is something that should be shown to all students across the counrty

  13. Thank you very much for the performance of Terriers at Knowsley Community College. It was a completely absorbing, thought-provoking and very moving drama which delivered effective and relevant safeguarding messages to our students. Student feedback was extremely positive (for the third year running!) and we hope very much that you’ll be back next year.

    • Hi Trisha,

      Many thanks for your feedback – it is always a pleasure to perform in Knowsley Community College for your students and staff and we are looking forward to getting another date in the diary

  14. Terriers performed to our year 9 and 10 last week. An excellent production which gave students much to discuss. A great addition to our PSHE programme

  15. I cannot express how deeply this play moved me. The performance was superbly delivered and the content was hard hitting, relevant and pertinent. Our particular demographic could be directly involved in gang related issues, or indirectly and obliviously involved. I had my eyes opened to some of the nuances of gang culture and I had gone to the play as someone who considers themselves to be ‘in the know’. This play is invaluable to anyone who would benefit from being advised and guided on such issues. As for our cohort, and for our staff, I feel that this play is a VITAL education in the ripple effect caused by local gang culture.

    I cannot praise the performace and performers enough, it was INCREDIBLE.


  16. A massive thank you and well done from everyone at Ridgeway High School. Our year 8 and 9 students were captivated from the start and really enjoyed finding out how the plot unfolded. I’ve spent the past two days answering questions and speaking to small groups about peer pressure and the dangers of gun and knife crime! Best of luck with the rest of the tour and see you next year. Neil Murphy.

  17. Brilliant performance. Our Key stage 5 students (and staff!) loved the play. Engaging, interesting and relevant. We have seen a variety of productions but this was our favourite. Written in a witty, non patronising and entertaining style; I’d recommend the production to other schools. A must-see.

  18. I thought the play was really engaging and current, the students appeared to enjoy it and it delivered a hard hitting message in an appropriate and memorable way. The use of dark lighting and dance created an atmosphere and hooked the students in to the plot straight away.

    Didn’t think my students would be as taken by this as they were! Having young people give young people messages on positive life-choices is life-changing, and my students definitely showed that there were issues and concerns around these issues raised by the play.

    Terriers was excellent. I am so happy that I went to see it because it dealt with real issues that some of my students have spoken to me about. It opened up discussions and debates in my student group, so now we know what they need support with, and what local services are available to support them through this.

    Hard-hitting. I know it hit home with a lot of my young people. Hopefully they will make good decisions with their lives.

    I never heard of Terriers before then. It is such a good play. So good for all our young people to experience and they all engaged really well.

    Janine Hopewell, Hugh Baird College

  19. I first had the privilege of seeing Terriers at the YJB conference in 2014. It was the most powerful piece of theatre I have ever seen for our client base. It cannot fail to capture your attention within the first few minutes and that includes the attention of the most challenging of our clients. The music and storyline is both current and edgy. Due to the impression the performance left, I and others collaborated to bring the play back to Telford to be seen by PRU’s and schools within our area. The feedback was phenomenal and several schools have continued to use the educational toolkit provided, with great results.

    For those of you who haven’t had a chance to experience the play I cannot stress enough what a fantastic opportunity this is to engage some of our hardest to reach young people. It is also a fantastic tool to enable parents, professionals and teachers alike to gain awareness of the hidden issues which currently face our younger members of society.

  20. Having had the privilege of seeing this play when it first started out, I was delighted to be able to arrange for a performance of the play for young people and staff from Rathbone Training centres across the North West. Terriers was even more powerful than I remember with the perfect blend of powerful, emotional scenes and humour bringing to life the themes of gangs, guns and peer pressure. We received fantastic feedback from all of the young people and staff who attended and look forward to arranging something similar in the future.I don’t think there is a young person (or adult for that matter) in the country who would not benefit from and enjoy seeing this play. Thank again to everyone involved.

  21. A hard hitting storyline supported by a powerful performance. Students at Childwall Sports and Science Academy really enjoyed the show. Students were able to reflect on the main themese of the performance with a Q&A session, with the performers, after the show. Supports our commitment to deliver SMSC education to our students.

  22. ‘Terriers’ has once again performed to students at ESLA. A fantastic performance with a powerful message that had our students on the edge of their seats. Will certainly be inviting the ‘Terriers’ back again next year.

  23. I teach at Kings leadership Academy in the Dingle, the old Shorefields school. We would like to book the Terriers for a performance, in the near future

    Kind regards

    Sherlon Atkins

  24. Performed at HMP Liverpool today to 100 prisoners. Fantastic production actors were great put their heart and soul in to the performance. A lot of men who have lived or are living that life style commented how it really hit home seeing how destructive gang life can be. It is exciting, dramatic and thought provoking. This performance should be shown to people of all ages for not only to raise awareness of gun and gang issues but for their enjoyment also. The whole team were extremely nice people and are doing this to make a difference. A big thank you from Paul Murray and Ali Bell from HMP Liverpool.

  25. I saw this at the yjb conference last year and would love to see you again! Can you please update your tour dates on here so I can spread the word! Thanks

    • Hi Wendy,

      Thanks for leaving a reply. We have now updated our new tour dates page. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like further information. Spread the word far and wide

  26. ‘Terriers’ was performed today at Upton Hall School to pupils in Years 9 and 10. They loved it! A powerful storyline, a fantastic cast, music, drama and dance – all combined into a performance that crackled and sparked. This was a Theatre in Education piece that transcended the genre. It was theatre at its best – funny, tragic, wise and shocking. The young, dynamic cast had the audience gripped with the intensity of their performance. ‘Terriers’ should be shown in every school in the country.

  27. I have just had the privelage of experiencing this play. To say it was fantastic would be an understatment. Teachers, parents and youth workers need to see this. Young people should see this. If you get the chance make time to see it. Well done.

  28. Hi I work in a high school I have seen your performance and think it would be beneficial to our students, I would like to know if there is a charge to perform at a Liverpool school? Please advise Thank you.

  29. Fantastic performance superbly written and performed, really touching and engaging from the opening minute. A big well done to all involved. 😀

  30. I was fortunate and honored to watch this production today at the DW Stadium. The artists are very talented. The performance and story line is very powerful and hard hitting. I would highly recommend that young people and adults alike watch ‘Terriers ‘if they get the opportunity too. Well done to everybody involved 😀

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