Our COP26 events

The Trial of William Merilees

The Trial of William Merilees

Thinking Culture | Theatre Studies | School of Culture & Creative Arts | College of Arts & Humanities
Date: Thursday 04 April 2024
Time: 19:00 - 21:30
Venue: James Arnott Theatre
Category: Academic events, Student events
Website: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-trial-of-william-merilees-tickets-779563364007?aff=oddtdtcreator

The Trial of William Merrilees is a one-night-only, unscripted performance, providing a unique, live experience for the audience. The performance creates a space of alternative justice, placing the audience in the heart of it. All performers are students from the University of Glasgow, studying and researching theatre, social and political sciences, and law.


When law and desire clash, which side do you choose?

Edinburgh, 1934. In a city plagued by illicit acts, detective inspector William Merrilees wages a four-year war against deviants committing sexual offences in public places such as urinals, bathhouses, parks, clubs, and hotels. He dedicates himself to investigation, under-cover work, surveillance and raids, all in efforts to procure evidence, secure convictions and clear the streets of such deviance.

At that time, homosexuality is illegal. Merrilees’s law enforcement campaign targets queer men who are forced to use such alternative, clandestine spaces to express their desires, find companionship, and fall in love. For their actions, they are persecuted by the authorities, face criminal charges, and incarcerated.

90 years later, Glasgow, 2024. In a performance of Judicial Theatre, detective inspector William Merrilees will be charged with Misconduct in Public Office for the alleged abuse of power in his campaign against homosexuality. To resolve the conflict, the audience is invited to act as jury, hear both parties of the case, ask questions of the witnesses, and decide the fate of a controversial figure from Scotland’s hidden queer history.

This event is presented by Thinking Culture, a cultural programme supported by the School of Culture & Creative Arts, University of Glasgow.

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